Title: A Christmas Kiss
Author: Annabelle Jacobs
Length: 38k words
Category: Holiday Romance
At a Glance: This is a delightful friends-to-lovers story that kept me engaged the entire time.
Reviewed By: Sadonna
Blurb: Keeping secrets from your best friend isn’t right, but it’s easier than admitting you’ve fallen in love with him.
Sharing a late-night kiss with his best friend, Alex, is Riley’s dream come true. Waking up to discover Alex was too drunk to remember anything is more like a nightmare. Scared the truth could destroy their friendship, Riley keeps quiet and pretends nothing happened.
Alex can’t shake the feeling that he said or did something stupid on their group’s drunken weekend away—why else would Riley be avoiding him? Although the explanation he finally gets sounds plausible, Riley’s still acting strange, and trying to figure out why that is unearths emotions Alex has worked hard to bury.
Riley knows not telling Alex how he feels is probably selfish, but he wants one last normal Christmas before he has to come clean and face the potential fallout.
He should have known it wouldn’t be that easy.
Review: Alex and Riley have been best friends for years. They are both gay but they’ve never moved their relationship beyond that friendship. Then one evening, when they are staying with friends at a lodge and have too much to drink, Riley kisses Alex. And, lo and behold, Alex kisses him back. They end up in bed together, but then Alex falls asleep before too much happens. Riley is so happy, thinking this is the beginning of what he really and truly desires—a real relationship with Alex. But the next day, when it seems Alex has forgotten that anything happened, Riley is devastated because he really wants to move beyond the friend zone.
While he tries to keep Alex at arm’s length, Riley is feeling angry and sad and lonely. Everybody else seems to have figured it out, but he doesn’t want to confront Alex because he’s worried about losing his best friend—and he knows he can’t survive that. So, he makes up some other story when Alex presses him for the reason he’s acting so strangely. Alex is suspicious, but really, he doesn’t have a valid reason for questioning Riley further.
When another weekend away springs up before Christmas, Riley agrees to go since Alex is not going to be there. He needs the space, and he’s promised his brother that he will come clean to Alex after the New Year. Of course, Alex’s plans change and when he arrives at the lodge, Riley has a hard time trying to keep a lid on his feelings. It doesn’t help that he’s got some friends who decide to interfere as well. In this case, though, maybe their well-meaning meddling isn’t such a bad thing.
Given the despair I’ve been feeling for the last week and a half, I’ve been looking for something to distract me from real world problems rearing their ugly heads these days. I’m happy to report that A Christmas Kiss is a delightful story that kept me engaged the entire time. Riley and Alex are kind of clueless when it comes to each other, and they need a little push in the right direction. I love this trope and this has been my week for it! Two friends to lovers Christmas stories in a week make me happy—well, at least cheer me up some. Bring on the Christmas happy. I think we could all use some right now.
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