Review: CL Mustafic – Christmas Cookies

Author: CL Mustafic
Reviewer: Lucy
Publisher: NineStar Press
Genre: Mm Holiday

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Summary: After losing his husband, David, to a tragic accident the previous year, Russ doesn’t feel much like celebrating the upcoming holidays. When his daughter unexpectedly asks for one of David’s cookie recipes, Russ makes a decision that lands him in a baking class. After a few mishaps with an inept partner, Russ is ready to give up, but then the teacher, Amos, offers private lessons to help him recreate David’s smorgasbord of holiday treats. Somewhere along the way, Russ develops an attraction to the younger man, but is he ready to move on and let Amos in?

Review: Oh boy, this had such a melancholy feel to it. Russ’ husband died eighteen months ago in an accident and he spent months wallowing in the bottle, unable to pull himself together. David was everything to Russ, and he was the one that made their house a home, made their lives loving and warm. He isn’t sure what to do now but when his daughter, Belle, asks Russ for David’s recipe for Christmas cookies because she misses them, Russ has to do something because he can’t stand the idea of someone else making David’s cookies.

So he tries. He finally opens the recipe box (and how hard did that have to be?) and he pulls out some of the cookie recipes. And he tries to make them with not great results. Russ can cook but he’s never had to learn to bake. “That’s right, you have me and I’ll always bake whatever you want for you.” Russ opened his eyes and stared down at the card in his hands. “Not always, David, not always.” That made me outright cry because we always think we have so much time, that we will always be there for the ones we love and sometimes we make promises that life doesn’t allow us to keep. But Russ loves his kids and he’s going to do what he can to make things better.

Russ has wonderful kids and an ex-wife who is still one of his best friends. The fact that she keeps trying to set him up with people, even treasures like Amika, annoys him but she really does have his best interests at heart.

He is a tradesman who gets called out at odd hours for emergencies and one such call takes him to an apartment where an obnoxious ex-boyfriend stuffed a t-shirt in a vent of a lovely man. Who turns out to be the teacher for the baking class Russ decides to take in an effort to make the holiday better, to try to get some life back in his life.

When Russ tells Amos why he’s taking the class, that his kids miss the cookies, a misunderstanding happens that Russ doesn’t correct. Amos is a good person and he wants to help. That he is attracted to Russ is a bonus, but he’s kind and offers to give Russ help with making those treats. “I want my kids to see that I’m okay, that things with me are okay now.”

So they embark on baking and along the way they get to know each other. Russ deals with the feeling of betrayal that there is another man in David’s kitchen. Amos deals with betrayal when the misunderstanding blows up in Russ’ face. There is some difficulty with Russ’ son, RJ, who acts at one point like a complete and utter ignorant pig. There is baggage from Amos’ past and all of it combines to make things complicated for these two. Add in that Russ isn’t good at getting back into dating with his fear of forgetting David and he’s just awkward about it and it’s really a difficult thing. “I’m not looking for a replacement for him, and I thought you should know that.”

This ends on their beginning, you can’t really call it an HEA because they are just getting started. But I’m pulling for them, family is pulling for them and they are willing to work at it. So Merry Christmas, darlings.

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