Not Just For Christmas is the perfect, cozy holiday romance with gay leads and furry cats.
Ben, a twenty-four year-old, has crushed over his best friend’s brother, Jason, for as long as he can remember. Jason has seen Ben grow up along with his kid brother, Liam, but he never expected Ben to have come back, after years, with a bolder personality and those crystal blue eyes that aren’t covered with huge spectacles anymore. Plus, he certainly hadn’t expected that kiss under the mistletoe.
“It’s mistletoe.” Jason swallowed and instinctively licked his lips.
“I know that.” Ben lowered his voice and whispered.
“Then you know the rules.” The air turned thick with tension, and Jason hesitated, not sure what the right course of action was. A quick peck just for a laugh or—
“Stop overthinking.” Not giving him the chance to reply, Ben took Jason’s face in both hands, then leaned in and kissed him.
I loved this for the simplicity it had. There isn’t any drama that would unnecessarily drag the relationship in terms of hardships, nor were there any inessential misunderstandings that would pave way for a potential heartbreak, or anything of that sort. It’s a simple love story about a crush that Ben hasn’t been vocal about and the age gap that Jason assumes might be a problem—even when it isn’t. In addition to all this, Jason is a vet and Ben is volunteering at an animal shelter so cats make some pleasant, and important, appearances too.
There is loads of snow, lights and decorations so the Christmas-y vibes are definitely radiating through the story. Another compelling aspect of the story is how non-stereotypical the whole homosexual aspect is presented. There aren’t any stupid jokes cracked at the table or a homophobic family member just for the sake of including them. The fact that Jason and Ben are gay, and Liam is bisexual, is up-front from the start and all scenes or dialogues are drawn as any love story would want them to; it’s evident that sexual orientations don’t make a difference in how love blossoms.
When I’d mentioned this book in my TBR list for this week, I was excited to read some romance after a long time. Despite of this being a cute and easy read, I felt the romance could’ve been developed in a much better way. There were feelings in the story but they didn’t reverberate through the characters. It was almost like the fictional personas knew beforehand about the HEA they were entitled to, and didn’t take much effort to fight for that expected ending. The only obstacle in this path to love was: what would Liam think? While that was a potential hurdle, it didn’t let me feel worried for Ben or Jason. I knew somewhere from the start they’ll end up together and quite easily at that. Well, two stars got away because of this.
Having said that, the characters are adorable and the setting is all winter-ish to make a cozy holiday read. I would recommend this to those looking for a light, quick romance in the midst of Christmas celebrations.
I recently posted a release blitz of this book. Head over to it, here, to read an exclusive excerpt and enter a giveaway of $10 Amazon GC!
I received a digital ARC of this book via a blot tour sign up but that in no way influences my review of it. Thank you Signal Boost Promotions and Annabelle Jacobs!