Author: Amy Lane
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Pierce Atwater used to think he was a knight in shining armor, but then his life fell to crap. Now he has no job, no wife, no life—and is so full of self-pity he can’t even be decent to the one family member he’s still speaking to. He heads for Florida, where he’s got a month to pull his head out of his ass before he ruins his little sister’s Christmas.
Harold Justice Lombard the Fifth is at his own crossroads—he can keep being Hal, massage therapist in training, flamboyant and irrepressible to the bones, or he can let his parents rule his life. Hal takes one look at Pierce and decides they’re fellow unicorns out to make the world a better place. Pierce can’t reject Hal’s overtures of friendship, in spite of his misgivings about being too old and too pissed off to make a good friend.
As they experience everything from existential Looney Tunes to eternal trips to Target, Pierce becomes more dependent on Hal’s optimism to get him through the day. When Hal starts getting him through the nights too, Pierce must look inside for the knight he used to be—before Christmas becomes a doomsday deadline of heartbreak instead of a celebration of love.
An auto accident shatters Pierce Atwater’s knee and gives him the impetus to tell his wife he’s going to divorce her, and then his place of employment takes advantage of his lack of availability and lays him off, so it’s all downhill from there. The thirty-two-year-old takes advantage of a generous offer from his sister and a friend and he heads to Florida to heal—in more ways than one. Thinking of himself as a crotchety, crippled old guy, he’s shocked when a handsome young man spots him by the pool of the condo he’s renting and seems to find him attractive and interesting.
Hal, aka, Howard Justice Lombard the Fifth, has been cast off by his family for being gay and an embarrassment. After all, he refuses to buckle down in school to take the credits he needs for his law degree, and he insists on getting a massage therapy certificate before agreeing to complete his next semester’s enrollment. Though his parents have given him to New Year’s to get registered, they exert the pressure anyway. These two young men easily find their way to each other as Hal takes charge of Pierce’s pool therapy and guides his recovery in more ways than one and Pierce values Hal for who he is, not who he knows or what he does.
In typical Amy Lane fashion, we aren’t just told how these men feel, we are shown. And when they feel, they FEEL. I love this author’s writing style, especially when she’s dealing with young men who have emotional baggage but are otherwise relatively “normal,” i.e., they are not werewolves or criminals or from outer space. It’s uplifting to witness this heartwarming holiday tale as two men fall in love within the few weeks they spend together. As the story closes, Hal and Pierce are set to hit both families for holiday visits—a farewell visit in the case of Hal’s family—and to start their adventure together as they cross the country to Pierce’s hometown in California and the new job that awaits him there.
I highly recommend this one to anyone looking for a heartwarming story of self-acceptance and love. Happy holidays!