Sunday, December 23, 2018

ARC Review: Santa On the Beach by Crystel Greene

From The Blurb:

The sexy Santa and the virgin dad.... 

Single dad Mario, twenty-one, has finally won shared custody of his five-year-old son, Sammy. They’re spending Christmas at a Tenerife resort to celebrate. The children’s swimming instructor, Josie, is sexy and fun, and Mario can’t stop dreaming about him. But Mario has no clue how to talk to a hot guy. 

With his suntan, Speedos, and rippling abs, Josie seems to be the typical jock. He’s super sweet too, and everyone loves him. But he only has eyes for the fire-eyed little dad who looks like his son’s older brother and won’t stop policing the swimming class. 

Sammy would like to be a king in the hotel’s nativity play. But he’s too afraid to go anywhere without his dad. Mario would like a holiday romance with Josie, or even a little more, but between building his tech company and trying to do his part as Sammy’s father he has missed out on a lot and is too inexperienced to know where to begin. 

Luckily Santa might have just the thing for everyone on his list...

Karen's rating:

‘Santa on the Beach’ offered up a sweet premise…when Mario a 21 year old, single dad gains shared custody of his son and sees him fledgling company in the black for the first time. He decides that he and Sammy need to celebrate with a destination vacation for Christmas. Someplace warm and family friendly with lots of activities for Sammy.

Mario quickly discovers that what sounded good in theory might not be so great in execution when he’s faced with the reality that his son isn’t interested in…and just downright refuses to participate in the children’s activities.

Mario’s journey into parenthood has been more than a little obstacle ridden. As a teenage dad, he’s had more than a few strikes against him the least of which most people just assume he couldn’t possibly be a good and responsible father. It’s always assumed that he either doesn’t care or he’s overly protective and doesn’t give his son enough independence…damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t it would seem. But Mario’s worked hard to prove his critics wrong and he’s created a successful business that allows him to help support his son and himself financially as well as being there for his son when he needs him.

As Mario navigates the hazards of getting his son to participate in a class for beginner swimmers, he encounters yet another complication in the form of Josie one of the instructors for his son’s class and Josie’s one seriously hot man…he’s kind, patient and just really, sweet and all wrapped up in a smoking hot package. Too bad Mario goes from confident businessman to shy, speechless geek when faced with someone as attractive as Josie outside of the business world.

This story was told strictly from Mario’s POV and once again when faced with just under 50 pages I appreciated not bouncing around from POV to POV and back again…rinse and repeat. I quite liked Mario and I had a lot of sympathy for him. As a young teenage father…16 when his son was born and 21 during the story’s timeframe. Many of the issues and concerns expressed by Mario are valid and issues that I’m sure many a young man who is putting forth a sincere effort to be a good dad have faced. So while this added to the realism of the story unfortunately the fact that these issues were dwelt on a bit more extensively than perhaps was needed in a less than 50 page story at times took Mario from being a young man struggling to do the right thing and to just be a good dad for his kid to someone who…at times was…well, to be quite honest whiney.

I think having Mario’s struggles laid out in many ways was good it helped the reader, in this case me, to have an understanding and appreciation of what he’s gone through in his efforts to do right by his son but for me it lacked the balance that kept things from going from this is Mario’s life to “You have to feel sorry for him!!!” and honestly I did feel badly for Mario until I got to point where I was thinking…”Mario, please just suck it up and stop whining.” I doubt very much that this was the authors intent but unfortunately for me that’s where things went and a big contributor to why this was just a 3 star read for me. I would have happily traded in some of Mario’s internalized whining for more Mario and Josie times because they were sweet, I really liked them. It was probably somewhere around the 70% mark before Mario and Josie actually get together and it was definitely a sweet and enjoyable scene. I loved the little bit of insecurity that was displayed by both men.

I think more than anything if I could have changed something about this story I would have added more to the ending. While we are given a very strong indication of an HFN with HEA potential and maybe a bit of an ‘in your face’ for Mario’s parents because they were a less than stellar example of how to raise your kids.

‘Santa on the Beach’ was a short sweet story and honestly it wouldn’t have taken a lot to have enchanted me just a bit more and leave me with more of that Christmas feeling of Christmas cheer.


An ARC of 'Santa On the Beach' was graciously provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.,13992659

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Reading gives us someplace to go, when we have to stay where we are.  (Mason Cooley)

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