Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Christy Shaw is a young man who came back from the Napoleonic wars to find his father dead, and his mother remarried to an abusive drunkard. Jobs were hard to come by, and it sounds like Christy was pretty much homeless when he found a cosy little bookshop in which to come in out of the cold. The proprietor of the bookshop, Lawrence Fenton, offered him a job, and over the following months – maybe about a year? – Christy made himself indispensable. He found ways to make the shop more inviting, which led to more profits, and eventually he was there full time, and usually for a few hours before opening, just to enjoy spending time with Mr. Fenton.
Lawrence Fenton was a widower who had pretty much given up on happiness, and was just existing from day to day when Christy started coming into his shop. There was something about Christy that just drew him, and although he tried to remain somewhat distant and aloof, he started looking forward to spending time with Christy, and anticipating his needs. Little by little he learned more about Christy, and offered more of himself, until the working relationship within the store was a joy to both of them. They both also secretly pined after the other, but didn’t dare let that interest show.
The Christmas season in this version of Victorian London was just as busy for retailers as our modern Christmas shopping season is, and just as much in need of appropriate decoration. Christy was the man to take care of that – charming, vivacious, and energetic, to Lawrence’s shy, protective, and businesslike attitude, and when the decorations included a bit of mistletoe, why, it felt natural for Christy to give Lawrence a swift peck on the cheek. But that little peck changed everything…
The secondary characters of Christy’s mother, her abusive husband, and the kind elderly widow who became a regular of the shop allowed a little side plot to develop – that of how family and neighbors react to violence against women and children, and that, I think, was handled a little bit more realistically to the era – i.e. husbands could basically do what they wanted without fear of reprisal. The transformation of the bookshop into a little Barnes and Noble clone, not so much. The characterization was a little inconsistent – Christy exhibiting some alpha male behaviors, and Lawrence getting ready to use his ninja fighting skills – but it wasn’t too hard to overlook and just enjoy the general sweetness of the story.
Cover art by Written Ink Designs was OK, nothing inspired, and the models certainly don’t seem to be like either of the MCs.
ebook, 89 pages
Published December 9th 2017 by JMS Books LLC