Former stepbrothers find Christmas romance under the tree.
After years alone, Daniel Diaz is finally ready to shake up his orderly, solitary life. He's about to leave for a cozy Christmas getaway with his new man when he gets the call from the ER that his former stepbrother has been admitted with a concussion and a broken hand—and Cole put him down as his emergency contact. Why the hell would he do that? Daniel barely knows the guy. After all, their parents' marriage lasted less than a year and it was a decade ago!
But Cole has no one else to look after him and strict doctor's orders not to be left alone. So fine, Daniel will bring him along on vacation to make sure he doesn't starve or fall into a coma. This is supposed to be Daniel's chance to explore romance again after locking down his feelings for too long—except it turns out his could-be boyfriend is more interested in partying and being an obnoxious jerk. Daniel sends him packing, and now he's stuck with a virtual stranger in an isolated mountain cabin.
Cole Smith crushed hard on cranky Daniel when they were teenagers. Alone with him in a romantic winter wonderland, those feelings roar back to life. Glimpsing the caring, vulnerable man under Daniel's frosty shell, he yearns to get closer. Christmas is a time for surprises, and Daniel and Cole discover a scorching connection that just might melt their hearts.
You know when you're reading a perfectly fine story, but you just don't feel the *zing* of the excitement and romance that you were hoping for? Sadly, that's pretty much what happened for me with this book. : (
I loved the premise of the story, where Cole at age 13 and Daniel at age 18 were step-brothers for a hot minute, with Daniel largely ignoring Cole at the time, then they're thrown back together a decade later and it's suddenly hearts and flowers.
So yeah, this one should have had my heart zinging all over the place, but it never quite got there for me.
I really enjoyed the beginning, where Cole was in the emergency room and Daniel swoops in to take care of him. That part was great.
But once they got to the cabin, only to find that Daniel's “kind-of boyfriend or whatever” Justin decided to 'surprise' Daniel by inviting along a horde of partying co-workers for their romantic weekend, nope. It sort of took a nose dive interest-wise for me at that point.
Then even after Le Douche & Crew were finally voted off the island, I just never felt the romance. Yes, there was on-page attraction, but I was never truly sold on the feelings. The "why was it so right and special" behind them.
Don't get me wrong, Keira is a phenomenal author and I typically love everything she publishes; however, I never really got the deep level of "feels" that I've come to expect in her books here.
I did really enjoy the epilogue, showing them happily together with their families the following Christmas, with them making plans for *all* of their holidays to come. That really helped cement their HEA more solidly in my mind.
I do fully admit that I might have just been in an odd reading mood, since many other readers loved this one, but this story did leave me wanting deeper feelings.
I'd rate this book at around 3.25 stars and recommend it to Keira fans looking for a light, laid-back holiday read.
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