Title: Hanukkah on Retainer
Author: Astrid Amara
Publisher: Loose Id
Length: 99 Pages
Category: Holiday Romance
At a Glance: A somewhat surprisingly tense follow up to Crash Plus Expenses. There is still a lot of humor, and I liked seeing Dan and Connor take things to the next level.
Reviewed By: Sadonna
Blurb: Ever since their plane went down in the Alaskan wilderness and they survived the crash, starvation, and a bear attack, Dan Lewinski and Connor Katz have been inseparable. Now they’re preparing for their first Hanukkah together. Connor is finally hoping for some normalcy in his life. And things between them are good. Really good.
In fact the only conflict between them is the evidence Connor stole from the cult of the Conscripted Army of God. Dan wants Connor to testify and use the documents to bring down the cult before it shatters any more lives. Connor wants to put the past in the past and not embroil himself in the cult’s business any more than he already has.
But then Connor’s little sister Kyrie shows up on the first night of Hanukkah. She’s finished her de-programming and wants to get closer to Connor, despite the fact that she still has ties to the cult, especially her boyfriend. But when the cult that made Connor’s young life a nightmare lures Kyrie back, he has no choice but to fight with everything he’s got.
Review may contain spoilers from Crash Plus Expenses
Review: Hanukkah on Retainer is a sequel to Crash Plus Expenses, and as such, has plenty of spoilers for the first book. It’s recommended that the books be read in order. This story takes place several months later, and Dan and Connor are together as a couple. Connor is still trying to figure out what to do about the Conscripted, and they are getting ready for their first holiday hosting event at Connor’s house in Bellingham, on the first night of Hanukkah. They are expecting Sheila, Connor’s sister, and her husband, as well as Dan’s parents and his brother, Steve, and Steve’s latest girlfriend. As they are nervously trying to get everything together, the doorbell rings, and it’s a big surprise to see Connor’s younger sister, Kyrie. Kyrie had been furious with Connor for pulling her out of the cult and putting her into therapy, so they are completely unprepared for her arrival. She also seems to have something to say about Dan and Connor’s relationship—which is neither welcomed nor tolerated.
The Hanukkah dinner is a little bit stilted, mostly because Connor and Kyrie have no clue what is going on with the traditions. Dan’s family comes through and Steve’s girlfriend is an eye opener. Things don’t go too badly, and it seems Kyrie wants to stay for a while with Connor. Connor seems okay with this since he still has a lot of guilt about taking her away from everything she’s known, even if it was the right thing to do. She complains about being bored at their Uncle’s, where she’s been staying, and Dan agrees to help keep an eye on her.
In the meantime, there is still the little issue of Connor turning over the evidence that he’s amassed about the Conscripted and their drug dealing and money laundering, not to mention the psychological control of the cult. Dan’s FBI contacts are getting impatient, and he can’t understand why Connor doesn’t just want to get it over with so that he can finally put the whole thing behind him. Of course, you know that’s when all hell will break loose.
The best thing about this story is the growth of Dan and Connor. They are moving forward together. Dan is still Dan and Connor is still Connor, but they are also a couple working on some common goals. They are very different people, but they realize that they make a good team, and that they balance each other well. They really have each other’s backs, and they are also pretty cute and funny together. I just love Dan’s personality and could read about him forever. A worthy sequel and, if you are a fan of Astrid Amara’s writing, this is an excellent choice.
You can buy Hanukkah on Retainer here: