Author: Chris Scully
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: Mm Holiday
Summary: In the sunny playground of Palm Springs, growing up was something confirmed bachelor and bad-boy chef Joel avoided at all costs—until a close friend’s death made him reevaluate his priorities. Ever since, he’s been dedicated to helping his widowed friend Perry get back on his feet by teaching him to cook and providing a shoulder to cry on. But when Perry announces that he’s ready to start dating again and then begins receiving gifts from an anonymous secret Santa, Joel is forced to confront the feelings he’s suppressed for so long.
As Joel struggles with jealousy and guilt amid the holiday season, he must decide if he’s ready to grow up and reach for what he’s always wanted but never thought he could have.
Review: This author wrote one of my all-time favorite holiday stories, Inseparable. This one had a sort of sad feel to the blurb so I wasn’t quite sure how to feel about it. It is a little sad, since Perry lost his husband, Dale, two years ago and he’s trying hard now to move on. “I think I’m ready to start dating again.” He’s been supported since that terrible time by his husband’s best friend, Joel. The story is told from Joel’s point of view, so we get more about him. He plays around, never having a relationship, and unfortunately has been in love with his friend’s husband very nearly since the beginning. “That I was so jealous of my best friend for the happiness he’d found that I couldn’t bear to be around them.”
Joel has been a rock for Perry but now that he is going to venture into dating, what’s a man to do? Especially when a former hook-up of Joel’s, Josh, is interested. It’s difficult. Add in gifts from a Secret Santa (a ton of poinsettas, anyone?) and Joel really isn’t sure what to do.
I liked that the MC here are not 20-somethings. They are in their fifties and maybe appreciate a little more that time is promised to no one. While Josh is pursuing Perry, Perry is trying to get an idea of how Joel feels. I completely understood his reluctance to be Perry’s “practice run” because he was just too involved.
I also liked the Christmas with the bereavement group. I’m sure most people have had that first Christmas without a loved one and it’s wretched. Having dinner for that group was a lovely thing. The story is sweet, the culmination of things you didn’t think you would ever have.