A Christmas Outing is a wonderful heartwarming holiday story whose narrative gifts are tarnished by the errors and mistakes that are found inside.
Continuity issues, once again, thy name is A Veterans Affairs. The most striking example is Troy’s best friend growing up, Leo. A closeted gay himself, it was his death that pushed Troy out of the closet and onto a new path. Hugely important.
So it would have to be a factor that’s a major aspect of Troy’s life and storylines. You would expect zero variation. Incoming, the first novel, has its version being that Leo was shot to death by a hookup in a gas station because he’s afraid to be seen in a gay bar.
Written as an epilogue to that story but released separately (same time frame), A Christmas Outing: A Veterans Affairs Story has Leo dying as a result of being beaten to death by homophobes.
To use the vernacular, I can’t even.
Troy’s West Virginia large family of Methodists becomes ethnically distinctly Italian Catholic, with some surprising side trips.
There’s so many elements that are mentioned and discussed superficially. A gay conversion camp and therapy, a gay cousin, a rescue, a PSTD episode that’s quickly dealt with, a hidden relationship, a coming out, a service dog and her duties, a gay partner who’s not religious. I’m sure I’m leaving out some. Bigotry.
All at Christmas. So heartwarming.
The fact that the Christmas card decorations and big Italian Catholic families are supposed to make up for the lost depth and glossing over of some of the very tough topics raised is in a manner a surface treatment used by families to make them feel better about themselves and issues they would rather not face.
It ends typically with a happy ending for the couple, one not shared with those around them. Big surprise.
There’s a couple more books in this series that are focused around another couple that lives in the same small town of Red Deer, Colorado.
Not entirely sure I’m continuing. It’s interesting but I have more books in 2023 on my list to finish first.
Books in the Veterans Affairs Series
Incoming – Troy & Dmitri novel
A Christmas Outing – Troy & Dmitri novella
Paper Hearts – Mikey & Benny novel
Paper Roses – Mikey & Benny novella
Bronze Star – Jay-Cee & Chris novel
Troy and Dmitri have worked everything out – well, almost everything. Except for the part where Troy’s family doesn’t know Dmitri exists. Coming out to his family sounds scarier than going to war. And Troy would know.
Troy’s been out of the Army for almost a year, and except for a few short weeks, hasn’t been back to West Virginia at all. Now it’s Christmas and if he doesn’t go, he’ll break his momma’s heart. Trouble is, Troy’s afraid that going home with a boyfriend and service dog in tow will break his Momma’s heart just as much.