Author: Gwen Hayes
Pages/Word Count: 59 Pages
At a Glance: This book had me at “Mr. Literary Tightpants.”
Reviewed By: Jules
Blurb: The Ogre from the Hill
Simon Powell, the town recluse, only comes to town to deliver firewood and get supplies. Two days before Christmas, he sees the new librarian’s car in a ditch and knows he can’t leave him on the road, but it’s too late to take him back to town. He’ll have something he’s never had in his cabin in the ten years that’s he’s lived there…company.
The Book Nerd from the City
Adam Parker moved to the small community to make big changes in his life, but being snowbound with the bearded lumberjack in his rustic cabin was something he’d thought only existed in his fantasies. Simon pushes away anyone who wants to get close to him, but Adam sees what he’s hiding in his heart and he wants it. Badly.
A Christmas to Remember
Adam smells like cinnamon and redemption and Simon aches to run his fingers over the scrape of stubble on his cheeks. To pull him into a kiss. To reignite feelings he’d denied himself for too long. Life is right there, blazing in the eyes of the town librarian. A man who isn’t afraid of him. But he learned long ago that everything he touches gets tainted, and he’ll do anything to keep his darkness away from Adam’s light.
But Adam has something else on his side—he’s been a very good boy this year and all he wants for Christmas is Simon.
Review: Don’t Stop Believing, the new Christmas novella by Gwen Hayes, is an absolute delight. Since the author is new to me – I believe this is her first M/M book, though she is an established M/F romance and YA author – I had no idea what to expect, and was immediately and pleasantly surprised. In fact, I may have snickered out loud and highlighted basically all of page 4. So, yeah…the writing grabbed me very early on, and never let go.
Simon lives on his own, keeps to himself for the most part, and that’s just the way he likes it. Though he’s referred to as ‘the ogre from the hill,’ and a recluse, he’s actually very well-liked in the small, mountain town of Silver Pines, Washington. I was completely taken with Simon, and was intrigued by his story. He’s a hero, an animal lover, a real live lumberjack… who reads. Swoon. Hello! What’s not to love? I found myself constantly wanting to hug him. He was just a solid, good guy.
Adam finds himself taken with Simon also, while stranded at the sexy lumberjack’s cabin during a snow storm, and things quickly heat up between them. However, Simon is a tough nut to crack. He’s not forthcoming about his past or his personal life, and tries to push Adam away even though it’s clear that he wants him just as much. When he finally pushes too far, and Adam does leave, Simon has to figure out a way to make things right. Queue awesome Christmas cliché plot device. Which was wonderfully schmaltzy, and I ate it up.
He hadn’t always been an ogre. Somewhere, very deep inside, the old Simon still lived and breathed. Every stupid Christmas movie he’d ever seen suddenly made sense. The magic was real. Just yesterday, he’d been trying to avoid being a cliché. Today, he was going to be the biggest fucking Christmas Miracle Cliché he could manage.
This book had me at “Mr. Literary Tightpants.” Though somewhat predictable, it was a fabulously executed Christmas romance; I loved every bit of it. The writing was sharp and witty, and the pacing was perfect for a short story. I’m told there are more books coming from the quaint little town of Silver Pines, and though they won’t be centered around Simon and Adam, specifically, they will be making little cameos. I would definitely love to read more of these guys – so, I guess that will have to do for now. ;)
You can buy Don’t Stop Believing here: