Author: S.A. Stovall
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Paul Richmond
Rating: 4.25 of 5 Stars
Publication Date: 12/01/2016
Length: Short Story (<15K)
Genre: Action/Adventure, Contemporary, Gay Romance, Winter Holiday
Federal park ranger Carter Williams dislikes kids almost as much as he dislikes Christmas. He chose his career to escape human contact, not embrace it. And no matter how much his husband Owen tries to sway his opinion, Carter is a grump who would rather ignore the holiday. Owen’s efforts are put on hold, however, when they get a call about six missing foster kids lost in the park.
Christmas Eve takes a turn for the worse when Owen injures himself rescuing the children. Stranded in a snowstorm until dawn, Carter has to keep Owen awake and healthy while simultaneously watching six runaways. What he thinks is a nightmare come to life is actually a beautiful gift in disguise—the kids transform the ranger station into a Christmas wonderland. And before it’s all said and done, they might transform Carter’s heart as well—if he can keep his bah humbug attitude in check.
Minnesota seems to be a recurring theme in this year’s Advent Calendar stories – well, at least insofar as each of the three of them I’ve read so far contained some kind of reference to the North Star State. Just saying.
Anyways, this one is set in a wintry National Park in Minnesota, and it’s about an established couple, Carter and Owen, who are the epitome for opposites attract. Carter is a grouch and a loner, Owen is sociable and sweet-tempered. While Carter is a proper Scrooge when it comes to Christmas, Carter has always loved the holidays and done his best to put his partner into the spirit of the season. Unsuccessfully so far, but he keeps trying, even furnishes their Ranger station out in the wilderness to make it a home away from home. Which Carter likes, somehow – not that he’d ever admit it, until the weirdest Christmas miracle of all times happens by and totally knocks him out of his stride.
This story was written in 1st person present tense, which took me a moment to get used to, but it pulled me in so fast that I soon stopped noticing. I liked both Owen and Carter on the spot; the strong affection they had for each other came alive with every line of dialogue, every interaction between them. Carter, as the narrator, is the better-developed character; I liked his practicality and his common sense approach to things. Well, except in dealing with those lost kids, but then, that’s normally more Owen’s field of expertise.
It was heartwarming to watch how the children slowly but steadily charmed their way behind Carter’s defenses. Even though his Damascene conversion came a tad suddenly, I found that excusable in light of the fact that this was a Christmas story. One that I thoroughly enjoyed, I might add, and which I can warmly recommend.
I would like to thank the publisher for providing me with the eARC of this title in exchange for my honest opinion.
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.
Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,
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