Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
RV resort security chief Ringo never believed in love at first sight . . . until he saw Gavin playing his sax on the beach for the tourists. But their on-again, off-again affair—even counting all the great makeup sex—doesn’t come close to the relationship he wants. All he really wants for Christmas is a commitment from Gavin.
Instead he discovers that Gavin has had surgery without telling him, so he lays down a relationship ultimatum while Gavin recuperates. Complicating matters even more, Gavin’s beloved dog Bird runs away, and Gavin blames Ringo for the disappearance.
While Ringo throws every resource he has into finding Bird, he learns deeper truths about Gavin—how hard it is for him to trust and how little faith he has in love. Maybe if Ringo can find Bird, he can salvage Gavin’s faith. Maybe this Christmas, they can all find each other.
(20% of all proceeds are donated to the Ali Forney Center in New York, whose mission “is to protect lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning (LGBTQ) youth from the harm of homelessness, and to support them in becoming safe and independent as they move from adolescence to adulthood.)
I loved this story for so many reasons, and it could have been a five star read for me. First, the setting in a Southern California RV resort was both unique and perfect. It not only shows a lot about the main character Gavin’s personality, but is a rather unique profession for the other MC to work there. And as someone who lives in SoCal and has a family member who actually lives in one of those down in near the beach. SCORE!
Adored both of the characters. They were original, flawed, a bit broken… they felt like real, ordinary guys just trying to make it. Ringo, with his big ethnic family and kind heart, was just so sweet. The way he kept giving Gavin chances rather than giving up on him, the way he looked inside to try and see why he was doing the things he did, the way he saw that the was hurting himself even when he was lashing out at Ringo. I adored how he thought things through and tried over and over rather than giving up on something, and the story of how that came to be a part of his personality from a childhood event felt right.
Gavin, also from an ethnic background but rather than growing up in a close and supportive big family, he’d been neglected and had a hard childhood. Now on his own except for his dog, Bird, he finds it hard to trust that someone can really care for him enough to stick with him and often pushed people away. Yes, he was a badly flawed character with anger management and trust issues that caused himself and others around him hurt. But that was only a part of him, and Ringo saw behind that to all the good and beautiful parts that he hid behind that. Well, these two together just worked for me. The unusual dynamic between them blew me away. The ending was beautiful, but still I would love to read more about them.
The one thing that kept the story from being a five for me was the way Bird was handled. I’m a complete dog person, I own quite a few, and I’d really wished that Bird had been more of a character from the start. Unfortunately, it wasn’t until close to the end that he actually came alive as a character on his own. Before that, he was just Gavin’s dog. In fact it was pretty far into the story before we are even told his breed, which is a chocolate lab, or given any real description of him. In the end, he does get to come alive, but it could have been so much more of a rich and emotional story if we’d been given more about him closer to the beginning. If he’d been a real character from the start.
I love the cover by L.C. Chase! It has the perfect feel for the story…capturing the California beach feel with the Hispanic character and his sax, even his attire is perfect as described. Cover scores a five out of five stars for me.