Rating: 3 stars out of 5
One kiss under the mistletoe destroyed a friendship. Will another Christmas kiss remake it into something better?
Eli hasn’t been home since he left at eighteen with a heart aching from his best friend’s rejection and his father’s intolerance. But when his father reaches out, Eli figures it’s time to make peace with his family. He doesn’t expect to come face-to-face with Turner too — or to learn that the straight friend he’d foolishly loved is actually bisexual — but once the shock wears off, he knows exactly what he wants for Christmas.
Turner’s life isn’t everything he’d once planned, but he’s happy to be the shoulder his loved ones lean on. They keep him busy, which is just as well since none of his dates have really clicked. He hasn’t been able to connect with anyone the way he did with his former best friend. When Eli shows up for the holidays after years away, Turner doesn’t know what hit him. But he knows one thing: This time, he wants to give Eli a reason to stay.
I was super excited about this book because two of my favorite things, second chances and holidays, were here. Eli and Turner have been best friends since they were little, Eli navigating the close-mindedness of their small town of Juniper, Oregon and Turner standing by him. Until a kiss under the mistletoe shows Eli Turner wants no part of him and it changes their friendship. They limp along for a while but eventually Eli’s unrequited love is too much and he unfriends Turner. Eli’s dad, the Coach, was homophobic and nasty so when Eli leaves for college he’s done with Juniper and he doesn’t return. For eight years, at least, when he finds out he’s losing his job right before the holidays and with some encouragement from his co-worker, Barb, decides to give the family a chance.
Much has changed since Eli left – Coach had knee surgery and is looking old, Turner’s father died and now Turner’s family and Eli’s family are even closer and celebrate the holiday together, with Turner taking care of Eli’s parents. It’s a little difficult because while Coach does seem to love his son, he is set in some old fashioned views and Eli has a hard time forgiving the terrible things Coach said to him.
On the other hand, I felt like Turner’s actions, while not horrible, were so glossed over and forgiven that they might not even have occurred. Turner is the shoulder everyone leans on now, so he’s not a bad person. Everything, including lying, was such a nonevent that it was irritating and made the story less interesting.
Eli’s mom is great. While she wasn’t able to keep Eli home the first time, she proves time and again that she loves him, accepts him and isn’t just a shadow in the kitchen. When she admits on Christmas day that she writes fan fiction, “ I even write M/M pairings. That means male/male” I wanted to hug her. Go Mom!
This is a sweet story that didn’t quite live up to its potential for me.
Cover design by Jay Aheer @ Simply Defined Art shows Turner and Eli in front of a Christmas tree, shirtless and snuggling. Cute and fits the theme.
Sales Links: Amazon
Kindle Edition, 161 pages
Published November 29th 2018
ASINB07KVDG1VZsettingOregon (United States)