Friday, December 7, 2018

Release Day Reviews: Christmas Kitsch by Amy Lane (Giveaway)

Title: Christmas Kitsch
Author: Amy Lane
Release Date: December 7, 2018
Category: Contemporary, Holiday
Pages: 192

Dreamspinner Press

Sometimes the best Christmas gift is knowing what you really want.

Rusty Baker is a rich, entitled, oblivious jock, and he might have stayed that way if he hadn’t become friends with out-and-proud Oliver Campbell from the wrong side of the tracks. When Oliver kisses him goodbye before Rusty leaves for college, Rusty is forced to rethink everything he knows about himself.

But nothing can help Rusty survive a semester at Stanford, and he returns home for Thanksgiving break clinging to the one thing he knows to be true: Oliver is the best thing that’s ever happened to him.

Rusty’s parents disagree, and Rusty finds himself homeless for the holidays. But with Oliver’s love and the help of Oliver’s amazing family, Rusty realizes that failing college doesn’t mean he can’t pass real life with flying rainbow colors.

First Edition published by Riptide Publishing, December 2013.

5 Stars! 

I’ll be honest, I haven’t had the best of luck with books lately, so I was overjoyed to get the offer for Christmas Kitsch. I read it about 4 years ago and it’s one of my favorites, so I loved getting the chance to reread it.

I loved Rusty and Oliver just as much the second time around. Rusty was dense, but so sweet and my heart broke for the way his parents treated him, yet, at the same time, my heart warmed at the way not only Oliver cared for Rusty, but Oliver’s whole family was just absolutely amazing to Rusty, as well. I also loved Rusty’s sister, Nicole and his roommate Rex, who I wish we’d seen more of. In fact, I’d love to see Rex get his HEA, too.

I loved this book the first time I read it and I absolutely adored getting reacquainted with Rusty and Oliver. The story is well-written and full of emotion. Rusty and Oliver are likable, their chemistry is off the charts and they were sweet and super sexy together. They are two young men who you can’t help but root for them to get their HEA.

This is still one of my favorite reads, that I’ll definitely be rereading again and again. Highly recommendable!

*copy provided by Dreamspinner Press in exchange for an honest review*

4.25 Stars!

Rusty has his jock friends and his parents, who have a lot of expectations of him. When Oliver comes into his school, Rusty takes him under his wing and protects him. Oliver helps Rusty with school and preparing for his SATs. Their friendship blooms until Rusty loses his friends. Surprisingly, he really doesn't miss them when he has Oliver around. When Oliver gives Rusty a kiss goodbye before Rusty leaves for college, Rusty's perception of himself gets flipped.

I enjoyed this coming of age story. Rusty is not quick at picking up things and must work things through at his pace. At times, I thought that he just had his head stuck in the sand, but when he finally caught on to the things he wanted, he did well. I loved that Oliver was so patient and waited for Rusty to work out his feelings and what he wanted for his future. Oliver was really perceptive about Rusty and clearly knew what he wanted as well. His impatience with Rusty at times later in the book seemed weird considering how patient he was earlier, but as a teen finally getting close to what he wanted, I could understand him finally pushing Rusty.

The cast of characters in this story were great. Rusty's roommate in college was quite the character. Once he stopped trying to help Rusty in his own crazy manner, he was a great friend. Oliver's family was amazing and so fun to watch interact. I loved how they all stood by each other and accepted Rusty as one of their own. Seeing Rusty find his own way and find happiness was wonderful.

*** Copy provided to Bayou Book Junkie by Dreamspinner Press for my reading pleasure, a review wasn't a requirement.

4 Stars! 

A sweet, rather... 'jumps around a bit' tale, that I thoroughly enjoyed.

I've only read Amy Lane occasionally, and this tale was a delight. I didn't read the blurb right before diving in, so everything was a voyage of discovery, and much more than the YA/NA 'finding themselves' tale that I'd been expecting. It kind of had a bit of everything life might throw at you in it, and yet it all worked, didn't seem forced or out of place, but yeah, it was a bit haphazard, lol!

It's a sweet story of a young guy from the wrong side of the tracks, Oliver, who's not afraid to be himself, and to be different, as he's known nothing but love and support from his extended family for all his young life, and another, Russell/Rusty, who's known nothing but privilege and who's been made to feel for his entire life that there are expectations of him, and that if he wants his cushy lifestyle to continue, there's a price to pay. And, he's always been made to feel not quite as good as everything else, and it was a joy to see him emerge from the restraints.

Each kid is rich in different ways, but both are unaffected and honest and decent guys. When Oliver, who has Latino heritage, gets mocked by Rusty's so-called buddies from his footy team, Rusty defends him verbally, before things get physical. I loved how Rusty wasn't afraid to make himself a potential target to do the right thing by preventing bullying, and I loved how guileless and open he was with Oliver, and vice versa. I loved that he didn't feel the need to be the jock or win any popularity contests, and that he enjoyed spending time with his kid sister.

There are no majorly angsty or horrific dramas in this, though yes, there is some family drama that no kid should ever have to go through, and whilst I didn't for a moment think that this might change, as the tale ended things were thawing. I would like to see more of these guys later down the line, as each has gone in a direction opposite to what might have been expected of them, both are happy with life, and they have riches untold, in many ways.

There are some really funny moments in this, especially with the roomie, Rex, who starts off as being seemingly hormone-driven and sex-mad, but who ends up being a true friend to both Oliver and Rusty. And Rusty's little sister, Nicole, was a brilliant character: she might have been young and privileged, but she wasn't spoilt, she wasn't cowed by her parents' actions and words, and she was a true supporter of Rusty and Oliver and had a mind of her own, and no one was going to change it. And, at the end, it sounded as if she'd one day be joining Oliver's extended family, too.

Oliver's huge family feature a lot in this tale, and had it been done differently, had the guys not been such an integral part of his life, they might have seem planted to make the tale longer, but they were a hoot and they were an amazing bunch of people. People that I'd like to have in my life. I'd love to have been a fly on the wall as things thawed, and as the two very different families met each other!

This is not at all a schmaltzy Xmas tale. Xmas is kind of take-it-or-leave-it in the tale, to be honest, but it's a tale that has some brilliant characters embarking on the final phase of growing up, of establishing their personalities and presence, becoming their true selves, and finding their roots and their HEAs. And, despite their young ages, there was never a doubt that Rusty and Oliver were it for each other.

ARC courtesy of the author and Bayou Book Junkie, for my reading pleasure.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. The Dickens with Love by Josh Lanyon is my favorite and annually rereading holiday story.

  2. I like all of Eli Easton's, Jay Northcote's, and Keira Andrews' Christmas books.

  3. "The Christmas Throwaway" by R J Scott "If I Must" by Amy Lane it's a Thanksgiving Story but I like to re-read all the time.

  4. Macy Blake's All or Nothing (book one in her Chosen One series) is my current shifter favorite.

  5. The multi-author Men of Hidden Creek season 3 is so good and chock full of Christmas goodness.

  6. i haven't read any yet but many on my TBR

  7. I have a few but don't want to go looking for the titles. The two that come to mind are Holiday Outing by Astrid Amara and All I Want for Christmas...Is My Sister's Boyfriend by Brooke Blaine, Ella Frank

  8. C.S. Poe's The Color of You was a good holiday tale.

  9. As for dragons, one that I really liked was True of Heart by M.L.Rhodes.