Title: The Puzzle Box
Author: CC Bridges
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Length: 31 Pages
Category: Contemporary Holiday Romance
At a Glance: The Puzzle Box is a perfect short holiday story that reminded me of the Christmas carol ‘I’ll be Home for Christmas’. The pacing is well done, the emotions are well telegraphed, and the characters are believable. My only regret with this book is that the journey wasn’t long enough.
Reviewed By: Carrie
Blurb: Elementary school art teacher Cole Peters is expecting a lonely Christmas this year while his longtime boyfriend, James Carducci, is on deployment with the Army. However, a box from James contains puzzles that lead Cole on a scavenger hunt through the greatest moments of their relationship. Together with his best friend Liz, Cole works his way through each clue.
The final puzzle could lead Cole to a gift beyond his wildest expectations.
A story from the Dreamspinner Press 2017 Advent Calendar “Stocking Stuffers.”
Review: Cole Peters is an elementary art teacher. His character has all the qualities of the best kind of teacher, purple snowflakes and all. His boyfriend James is deployed overseas, and because of the nature of his job, Cole doesn’t get to see him much, or communicate with him on a regular basis. All the sympathy points go straight to this guy for how he keeps the home-fires burning, and his love and trust in James stays absolute. This year he hasn’t heard from James in a while, and Cole is resigned to spending Christmas alone. Cole’s best friend is Liz, and for a secondary character she has a strong voice. She keeps Cole from becoming depressed, and supports him and James in ways that they can only see in hindsight.
James Carducci fell in love with Cole Peters when they were in high school. Cole was his first everything, and if James has anything to say about it, Cole will be his forever. He’s trying to send a Christmas surprise Cole’s way, by reminding him of all their best memories together. A scavenger hunt is just the ticket to remind Cole, from far away, that James loves him and will be home soon.
James doesn’t get much page time in this story. After all, it is about the puzzle box and the journey they take Cole on. But even without his actual presence, James is all over the page. This was a bittersweet story of longing, and a HEA that satisfies. The Puzzle Box is a perfect short holiday story that reminded me of the Christmas carol I’ll be Home for Christmas. The pacing is well done, the emotions are well telegraphed, and the characters are believable. My only regret with this book is that the journey wasn’t long enough. I highly recommend reading this one with a cup of hot cocoa; then you will be full of marshmallows and happy feels.
Cole could feel the tears well up, even as he grabbed James and held him close. Is this real? He breathed deeply, taking in James’s scent even over the ocean air. He didn’t realize he was shaking until James pulled away and cupped Cole’s face in his hands. “Cole, are you all right?”
“I’m fine. Of course I’m fine. You’re here.”
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