Review: Annabelle Jacobs – Not Just For Christmas

Author: Annabelle Jacobs
Reviewer: Natalie
Publisher: Self Published
Genre: MM Holiday

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Summary: Ben has Christmas, cats, and mistletoe on his side…. Jason doesn’t stand a chance

For Ben Slater, moving back to Bristol means being closer to his family, living with his best mate, and volunteering at the local animal shelter. But there’s also Jason, his best mate’s eldest brother. Ben’s had a crush on Jason for as long as he can remember, but the eleven-year age gap has always seemed insurmountable.

Jason Armitage works as a vet at his uncle’s practice. He owns a cute cottage on the outskirts of the city, and a loving dog. The one thing missing is someone to share it all with. His brother’s best friend seems a bad choice, but Jason can’t help taking a second look. Ben’s changed a lot since Jason last saw him; both in appearance and attitude. Gone is the shy young boy, replaced with a confident, twenty-four-year-old man.

In the run up to Christmas, the festive period gives Ben the ideal opportunity to show Jason what he has to offer. But concerns for his brother’s feelings hold Jason back. If they have any chance of making this work, Ben must convince Jason that he’s old enough to know what he wants, and Jason needs to believe that a relationship with his brother’s best friend won’t ruin their friendship.

Review: This is only the second book by Annabelle Jacobs that I’ve read but she’s an author I’d look to when I want a comfort read. Ben and Jason were delightful, as Jason comes to see that young Ben has become quite the man. Having them bond over abandoned cats and the time Ben spends helping at the local animal shelter makes this a heart-melting read. Both men’s families are included in the story, so we get to know the characters well, with lots of background and history. Liam, Ben’s friend and Jason’s brother, adds contrast in a good way, being a little more brash and outspoken than Ben. There was an 11 year age gap between Jason and Ben, but that was barely noticeable, as everyone acts and speaks like real live grownups.
Third person POV’s for both characters suited my preferences and kept the narrative moving along. A story lacking any sort of major conflict, homophobia or family issues was a pleasant experience, and welcome in a holiday tale. Yet it’s not sappy or sugary in the least, just warm, fuzzy and touching. It’s set around the Christmas season but it suited this Grinch-y reader and didn’t try to drown me in holiday spirit. I enjoyed the very English setting and flavour (see what I did there!) in the narrative, with its rather low-key, gentle delivery. Living in the southern US, I also liked getting my chills and snow from visuals inspired by words, not actual weather! I would very much recommend this story, especially for the critter loving crowd.

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