Tuesday, December 25, 2018

DSP Advent Calendar Review: Holidays Are Where Your Heart Is by Bru Baker

Title: Holidays Are Where Your Heart Is
Author: Bru Baker
Category: Holiday, Advent
Pages: 42

Dreamspinner Press

Jared’s been all over the world as a traveling manny with Holiday Helpers, and the itch to put down roots is starting to eclipse his wanderlust—especially since his current family is a handful.

After culinary school, Wes did some wandering of his own, exploring Central America before settling as a resort chef in his mother’s homeland of Costa Rica, a place he loves and plans to stay. If he’s learned one thing, it’s to be wary of flings with vacationers. Still, he can’t stand to watch two little Swiss kids lose their belief in Saint Nicholas, so he’ll lend a hand to the manny assisting the family. It won’t be easy to recreate a traditional European Christmas in a tropical paradise.

Between a snowball fight on a sunny beach and sledding down an active volcano, Jared and Wes discover some renewed holiday magic of their own. Can they make it last a lifetime?

4* Sweet, fast moving and yeah, I believed in these guys having a future.
This is a nicely paced tale with a couple of leads who meet because of their jobs, quickly find they're attracted to each other, and that they would like to be with each other beyond the holiday season, if only RL, money, jobs, etc. would permit. But life doesn't always work out, does it? Or does it, with the help of Saint Nick and a little faith and goodwill?

They come into each other's lives organically, and there are good reasons for them to spend time with each other, and with the kids that one of them is manny'ing, and the tale focuses on caring and doing things for others, because it's that time of year. And, the kids in here were pretty decent, too, despite coming from money and having pretty absent parents; they hadn't lost their innocence or their love of the season and they were grateful for what they received. I liked that, as with the opening scene of the tale, I did wonder if they'd turn out to be spoilt brats!

There is some sex in this, which happens off-page as the kids are pretty much 365 under the manny's care (the parents are sooo absent, you wouldn't believe it, but it made the tale work), and there's a morality clause in his contract, but I think that made the tale more meaningful to both guys; they learned to be friends and to put others first.

Mainly, the tale focuses on friendship and connecting and sharing fun and happy times and doing the right thing. It felt real, and at the end I did think the leads would end up happy together - they were kind of opposites on the 'taking a risk' and 'you never know until you try' agenda, but they had the beach resort in common, and it looked like both guys' wandering days were over, and their dreams were on the cusp of being achieved. It was a lovely, feelgood tale for the season, and not just a MM romance.

ARC courtesy of Dreamspinner Press and Bayou Book Junkie, for my reading pleasure.

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