Friday, November 18, 2016

ARC Reviews: A Family for Christmas by Jay Northcote

A Family for Christmas
Zac never had a family of his own, but Rudy has enough to share.

Shy, inexperienced Rudy has a crush on Zac from the moment his new colleague walks through the door. On an office night out before Christmas, Rudy finds the courage to make a move, and they form a tentative bond. When he discovers Zac will be alone at Christmas, he invites Zac to come home with him.

Zac prefers to keep people at arm’s length. Yet when Rudy offers him a family Christmas it’s impossible to resist. With no parents of his own, Zac is pleasantly surprised to be welcomed by Rudy’s. The only drawback is that everyone assumes they’re a couple. Unwilling to disappoint Rudy’s mum and make Christmas awkward, they decide not to deny it.

It’s not a chore for Zac to pose as Rudy’s boyfriend, but the pretense makes him want things that scare him—things like a real relationship with Rudy. Zac’s suffered enough rejection in his life already and is afraid to risk his heart. If he can get over his past rejection and let Rudy inside his armor, he might get more for Christmas than he ever imagined.

Todd's rating:

In a word, Dorktacular. : )

Northcote's latest novella, "A Family for Christmas," is fun, sweet, clumsy, cute, sexy, innocent, heart-warming and more than a little bit charming. Highly recommended.

Virginal, but not totally inexperienced, Rudy is shy and unassuming, but he's had a major crush on his standoffish new co-worker, Zac, since the day he joined Rainbow Futures, the LGBT+ youth education charity where they both work.

Zac grew up in foster care and group homes, where he learned that the only person he should trust is himself, hence his tendency to shut himself off. He does his job, goes to the gym, then goes home. Rinse and repeat.

Then tequila happens. Zac reluctantly agrees to attend an after work function and... tequila. 'Nuff said. I'm telling you, folks, tequila is a drug, not a liquor.

Rudy and Zac share a steamy kiss, then Zac helps Rudy home and they share Rudy's bed for the night, but nothing happens, other than Zac agreeing to spend the Christmas holidays with Rudy and his family.

Zac's never had a real family, so when he arrives at Rudy's family home, he's almost immediately enthralled with being so immediately and wholly included in all things family. Which makes Zac question if his intoxicating attraction to Rudy is 100% Rudy or is it partly due to this new familial inclusion, something that he's always envied and secretly longed for.

Most of the conflict in this one is derived from Zac's internal struggle to give in and fully accept the love that both Rudy and his large family are thrusting at him with both fists and open arms vs. protecting himself from possible disappointment.

But this is a Christmas story, by Jay Northcote no less, so of course the boys get their HEA and all is right with the world when 'The End' finally comes. There's also an epilogue to help cement the relationship, which I loved.

If you're looking for a light, fun, fulfilling seasonal tale, this one rates a solid 4.25 stars for me and I'd highly recommend giving it a shot. : )

My ARC copy of the story was provided by the author in exchange for a fair, unbiased review.

Dani's review:

If you need something light and fluffy in your life, read this best-friends-to-lovers story. It's low angst and will make you smile.

Plus, these boys are British and spend occasional weekends at a cabin in Wales. Who doesn't want to hang at a cabin in Wales? 

Riley and Alex have been friends since high school. Riley crushes hard on Alex, but Alex is so gorgeous, Riley doesn't think he'd fall for someone like him. Riley is insecure about his body, his teeth, his hair. Poor guy. I wanted to hug him. 

But one night before Christmas, Riley screws his courage to the sticking place and gives in to his desires. Unfortunately, Alex is drunk and doesn't remember the kiss in the morning. 

Riley chickens out and won't tell Alex what happened even though their friends urge him to be honest. Riley doesn't want to ruin the holidays if Alex doesn't return his feelings. And Alex is just oblivious. 

I have to admit I found the friends to be a bit annoying. Abi, particularly, was pushy and meddlesome. That's not to say they weren't right, but seriously, back off and let the man breathe. 

The epilogue is closer to a HFN than a HEA, but I felt pretty good about Alex and Riley's chances. They have a solid base of friendship and trust. 

And they like to cuddle. Cuddles solve everything. 

** The author provided a free copy of this book for review. **

Jewel's review:

Though I do not celebrate the holiday, I have come to love my Christmas stories. They serve to give me the hope that I suppose the actual holiday and family should be giving me, but don't. So thank you, Jay. A Family for Christmas was just what I needed this week.Rudy is a kind of happy-go-lucky guy. He's shy and inexperienced, but he's happy and enjoys his life. He has a decent flat, with a garden and loads of family that he actually gets along with. He loves his job, too, and his coworkers are kind of an extended family for him. And he has a massive crush on the new guy, Zac. 

Family is something that Zac has never had, being brought up in the foster system. He's used to fending for himself and not depending on anyone else for anything. He started working at Rainbow Futures, an LGBT+ youth charity , about a month ago, and he loves it. He has no interest in socializing, though. He goes in to work, then goes to the gym and then after day. It isn't that he doesn't like his coworkers, he is just too afraid to relax and trust.

And then there was tequila.

Tequila can loosen the most stubborn person. And after the company outing where so much of it was consumed, he and Rudy kiss. A glorious kiss that could turn into so much more. But too much tequila has other less pleasant side effects, too... but, Rudy still managed to ask Zac to come home with him for Christmas.
All through A Family For Christmas I could really identify with Zac. I didn't grow up in the foster system, like he did, but the whole idea of family get togethers and actually enjoying them is so very foreign to me. Like a Lifetime special. And I know people whose families get along (mostly, at least) and they get together for the holidays and they love it. And, like Zac, I'd feel so very out of place. 

Rudy's family was brilliant, though. They weren't afraid to laugh at themselves (male stripper kitchen apron, complete with tassels on the nips) and they were so welcoming, that Zac didn't have a choice but to relax. And if Rudy's mom assumed they were boyfriends, well, maybe they could relax and play along, there, too. Because, like Rudy, Zac is developing quite the crush and maybe exploring that couldn't hurt. 

My seriously "awwwww" moment though? Seeing Zac totally and completely disarmed by a kitten.

A Family for Christmas was such a sweet story, full of good feels. The steamy bits were steamy and the ending was a strong HFN. I don't think it will take them too long to progress to their HEA, though. Because when you find "the one", you just know.


ARC of A Family for Christmas was generously provided by the author, in exchange for an honest review.

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