Special thanks to Leontine from Leontine's Book Realm for the super header.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Holiday Catch Up

So I'm still reading the odd holiday story. I do read holiday stories of all holidays year around so I'm sure these won't be the last.

Puppy, Car, and Snow by Amy Lane (90 pages)
Dreamspinner Press

Blurb:  Ryan’s entire life changed the night Scott surprised him in a bathroom at a party.  Now Ryan’s soulless climb up the corporate ladder has stalled—but his quality life has become a whirlwind of laughter, joy and surprises, thanks to Scotty’s playful, gentle heart.

After three years together, they’re going to Ryan’s parents’ cabin to spend Christmas.  Snowed in by the weather and locked under the icy glare of his mother’s disapproval, can Ryan show he has found the most profound happiness in the simplest of things?

Review:  It should be noted that there are several stories with this couple and it took me a while to figure that out because there is no mention of those stories on the blurb page. You don't NEED to have read them, but once I figured out who they were (I have read the others), it made more sense.

Ryan's family were okay with him being gay, they're just not okay with Scott. Ryan's highly driven mother has no respect for anyone whose primary purpose in life is not to claw their way to the top of the corporate ladder, and Scott is the antithesis of this, and Ryan loves him exactly that way. He knows exactly how his mother feels and is not above putting her in her place when necessary, although, she's smart enough to generally not say anything too snarky in front of him, however when she really gives Scott hell for "free-loading" on Christmas eve and Ryan's BIL spills the beans, Ryan makes it very clear to everyone how important Scott is to him.

The part I loved most about this whole story was Ryan's (and Scott's) absolute adoration of the other. Too often the family manages to cause the one guy to basically freeze and he allows them to treat his partner badly, but Ryan didn't. He was going to protect Scott no matter what. He wasn't ashamed he loved him, they were caught making out many times and he didn't care. He would keep his man emotionally safe at all cost and I really respected that attitude. It's how it should be and it was very romantic how it all ended.

My one bit of confusion was the BIL. He went from apparent homo-phobic jerk to their biggest cheerleader over a couple of days. I wasn't sure if the homophobia shtick was an act and he just needed to get to know Scott, or he had an epiphany, or what. I kept wondering if he'd been hit on the head by a Christmas tree or something since he seems to do an abrupt 180 on the relationship between the men.

Still, it was an absolutely adorable story without being too sappy sugary. A perfect feel-good story, although I still thing Ryan's got a horrible mother, even if she started to thaw slightly at the end.

Miracle of the Bellskis by Astrid Amara (110 pages)
Loose Id

Blurb: Too much family…too little Egg Nog.
It’s been three years since Seth Bellski forced his boyfriend and ex-boss Lars Varga out of the closet. Since then, Seth has passed the bar and become an attorney, and Lars has started his own firm. Their sex life has gotten steamier, and everything seems perfect between them. Until the holidays arrive.

It’s bad enough that Seth’s mother and father want them over every single night of Hanukkah. And that Lars’s less-than-tolerant parents are sleeping in the room next door for the duration of Christmas, putting the kibosh on their kink. They also end up as the attorneys representing opposing sides in a divorce case, one which quickly proves to be much more than it seems.

Amidst Hanukkah candles, Christmas lights, burned dinners and delayed court appointments, Lars and Seth’s relationship is going to need a miracle to survive the ultimate holiday challenge of too much family.

Review: We might have switched holidays to Hanukkah, but I just realized we have a theme with a bit of a switch. While in the last book they didn't mind him being gay, they hated his partner, in this one they are freaked that he's gay, although not that freaked by his partner, if they knew him.

This is the sequel to Carol of the Bellskis (wow, that was 2009) which I adored even if I wasn't certain Lars was the right guy for Seth. But it's been three years and things are going well. He's totally supportive of Seth's new career as a lawyer, he's out of the closet and not afraid to treat Seth as he deserves to be treated. However Lars' parents are coming to spend the holiday, and by chance Christmas overlaps with Hanukkah and now that Seth's parents have moved to Seattle, they expect him and Lars to spend the holiday with them.

Lars parents are the ice king and queen, his father taking every chance to cut Lars down, while Seth tries to deal with his needy parents and by chance the two men end up on opposite sides of a very weird divorce case, which gets out of control ending up with Lars in jail for contempt. I love Seth, he is such a laid back guy, he loves to lay around and do nothing, whereas Lars is the opposite. I also loved that Seth stood up to Lars' Dad and didn't let him criticize him because he also was no longer on the corporate law fast track.

I really enjoy Astrid Amara's holiday stories and this was no exception. Lots of humorous moments and some more serious  and sweet ones. A nice holiday read that even though the holidays are over I still enjoyed.


Chris said...

I loved the new Bellskis story!

Yeah, I remember having a similar question about the Christmas story - did the guy have a home personality transplant or something?!

Tam said...

I suppose there was a couple of options, it didn't sound like Ryan spent much time with his family so maybe once the guy got to know them, he wasn't as freaked out as he was. Or he was just so damn happy someone else was going to take the pressure of the ice queen off of him. Or he's one of those guys who pretends to be grossed out but it's kind of an attempt at being funny. It did strike me as odd though.

Val Kovalin said...

I loved the new Bellskis story, too! I especially liked Seth's family. Other than those Hanukkah stories by Amara Astrid, I tend to avoid holiday stories. They can seem too much alike.

Tam said...

Well, I read plenty this year for BER. LOL As a rule I enjoy them but there are few hallmarks of a holiday story which can ruin it for me, one is the insta-love because they want Christmas all wrapped up in a HEA bow and they only met on Dec. 23. Uhhh. No.

Hanukkah stories are fun because it's not my holiday and I like to hear about it. Although my daughter went to the Jewish club at school this year, I think solely so she could have latkes and donuts (the usual enticement by the Jewish group to get people to attend "we have donuts"), but the rabbi lit the cnadles and gave them all a dreidl.

Average Reader said...

Nice! Nothing like a free dreidl. (or anything, really -- door prizes and party favors are cool) :D I've never had latkes, but if they are like doughnuts, I'd be interested in trying one.

Tam said...

No, latkes are potato pancakes, traditionally served at Hanukkah. The donuts have some kind of cream in them. They have donuts every month. LOL They know what attracts teens, free food.

We already have two nice wooden dreidls so we'll probably give the bright orange plastic one the heave ho to the charity box. :-)