Rating: 4.75 stars
Jude Bloch is sitting at his usual table at the coffee shop in Chicago, far away from his family in LA. He has done his shopping for Hannukah, mailed his presents and is now free to work on his dissertation but is having little progress. Until the door opens up and the wind blows in handsome chef Mac Appel to share his table in the crowded shop. A casual conversation slides into a one-night stand that turns into a series of meetings each man starts to anticipate and treasure. At the end of eight days, a miraculous change has occurred in Jude’s holiday outlook and love has found it’s way into his heart.
I am still thinking about this story days later, amazed at how the story affected me by the end of Jude and Mac’s tale. When Kim Fielding’s story opens upon a grouchy Jude sitting by his lonesome at a table, I was not prepared for what a charming gem of a story this turned out to be. I loved Jude Bloch, and it’s from his POV that the story is told, so we get a very clear vision or so we think of Jude and his feelings of the holidays and relationships. Mac Appel is so full of life and joy that he pulls the reader in at the same time he is having the same effect on Jude. He quickly endeared himself to me as well.
But Fielding is such a gifted writer that she crafts a story that slowly peals back the layers Jude has built around himself by allowing Mac to do the skillful filleting of Jude’s barriers, the perfect occupation for a chef. And little by little, we start to see Jude as Mac does, a person who needs people but has been so disappointed by them, especially his family. As Mac surreptitiously starts courting Jude, we see the lonely doctoral student start to reconnect with all around him. By the time the story has come to its conclusion, it is humming with joy and the promise of a wonderful future for them both.
I can’t recommend this story enough. Heartwarming, gentle, a true gem of this season and every year after.