Author: Yolande Kleinn
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Length: 49 Pages
Category: Holiday, Contemporary
At a Glance: Another winner from the Dreamspinner Advent.
Reviewed By: Cassie
Blurb: Noah Fiore, contracts attorney and dedicated curmudgeon, spends every Christmas with his family on the shore of Lake Superior. It’s practically tradition for his sister to invite a tragic tagalong to the festivities. But this year Kara’s guest is no pity case. Riley Coto is a friend, and his warmth and charm quickly win over the Fiore family.
When Riley overhears Noah complaining about Kara’s habit of bringing home strays for the holidays, he feels more than a little out of place. But Riley finds himself drawn to Noah. Something tells him there’s more to the man than the bad attitude he shows the world. With Christmas coming fast, Riley is falling for Noah, and there’s nothing simple about that.
Review: Noah Fiore! What an interesting character packed into so few pages. It was nice to see a bit of a variation on the “I HATE CHRISTMAS” set up with him. He’s grumpy and standoffish, not because he’s traumatized or a grinch or getting over a break up, but because he’s just so dang uncomfortable in a crowd. He feels alone even surrounded by his family, and as the introverted foil to his loud and extroverted family dynamic, I’m sure the poor guy just grew up thinking he was a bit off or damaged. He’s not coming out of this story “fixed” and loving holidays and boisterous family dinners just because he found true love, like so often happens in these stories. He’s going to stay his curmudgeonly self, which is just fine because Riley loves him the way he is. And Riley is so perfect for Noah. Riley is positive and happy, and as comfortable as he can be getting tumbled into a huge holiday with strangers. He’s the ideal counterpoint to Noah’s grump.
And it must be a Christmas Miracle™, because somehow Yolande Kleinn manages as much of a slow burn (my favorite!) as can be accommodated in 49 pages. There’s actually opportunity to watch these two opposites dance around each other a bit, and it’s delightful. There are some strong secondary characters to lend color and life to the jam-packed Fiore family, and the setting on Lake Superior is so clearly rendered that it almost feels like another character.
Simple After All is all around a fun read. I’ll be adding it to my ever-growing list of required holiday reading.
You can buy Simple After All here: