Title: Love and Snowball Fights (Bah Humbug: Advent Calendar 2016)
Author: J.R. Loveless
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Length: 116 Pages
Category: Holiday, Contemporary
At a Glance: I enjoyed getting to know these characters, but I would have liked to know more about them. For me, the story would have benefited from a longer word count.
Reviewed By: Sadonna
Blurb: Lane Freeman supposed there were worse places to be dumped than a place named Christmas Valley. After being ejected from the foster care system, he spent the past five years hitchhiking and moving around. But six months of a steady job at Tal’s Bar and Grill, an apartment, and even a three-legged cat have him almost ready to risk putting down a few roots when Tal’s brother comes home for the holidays.
Dallas firefighter Trey Jenkins reluctantly accepts that Lane isn’t like the other drifters who’ve come through his brother’s place. A fragile attraction begins to bloom between them in spite of the many reasons they each have to fight it. Trey wants to give Lane a family, but experience has taught Lane to depend on no one but himself. Will winter love burn hot in the town called Christmas Valley or will Lane return to his wandering ways?
Review: Lane has had a tough life. He lost his parents at a young age and then went into the foster care system, was outed as gay and then rejected by not only his foster family but the guy he had felt safe with, too. He’s been on the streets, but he’s found a place at Tal’s Bar and Grill where he’s had a steady job for six months, an apartment, and even a three-legged cat that he’s taken in. But it looks like all that may be over when Tal’s brother Trey comes home for the holidays, and threatens Lane right out of the gate.
Lane is terrified of Trey. Literally. Like, he loses his lunch after being threatened. He’s practically afraid of his own shadow, so a big, intimidating fireman is definitely a problem. But once Tal gets the idea of what’s happened, and is determined that Lane not have a setback from all the progress he’s made, Trey does try to apologize and get to know Lane. He doesn’t understand the hell that Lane has been through, and he inadvertently keeps doing things that scare Lane. Turns out he’s attracted to Lane, and he is having a hard time keeping his hands to himself. He wants to protect Lane, but he has a hard time doing that without steamrolling his way through life.
When a major storm comes through at Christmas, Trey insists on taking Lane home. And, with a lot of not great luck, things go a bit wrong. They end up stuck together during the storm. Trey tries to convince Lane that he can trust him, but it seems to be one steps forward, two steps back every time he tries. Lane is just so skittish with everything, and Trey is afraid he has just screwed everything up.
Over the course of a couple of weeks, Trey and Lane try to build a tenuous friendship, and maybe more. But Trey has a life in Texas, and Lane is just finally feeling a little bit stable. There certainly are a lot of hurdles to overcome, and Lane has to decide if it’s worth the potential heartache to try to make a go of it with Trey.
While this story felt a bit predictable to me, I enjoyed getting to know Tal and Trey and their parents. Since the story is told from Lane’s point of view, we get a lot of his backstory and motivations for his reactions to things. I was actually surprised that he didn’t just run when Trey confronted him, initially, since I think that was definitely his first instinct. For me, I think this story would have been benefited from a longer word count. I wanted more about Trey’s life and past and what he wanted from Lane besides the sense of protectiveness he felt. It seems like this might be the first in a series, so maybe we’ll get more of the story for this little town and group.
You can buy Love and Snowball Fights here: