Keeping secrets is never a good way to start a relationship…
Theo hardly has time to date. Between work and caring for his four-year-old son there aren’t many hours left over. He’s lonely though, so he joins a hook-up app and starts chatting to a guy called Luke. Luke seems friendly and they arrange to meet. Theo doesn’t mention that he has a child. It’s early days and he’s worried about putting Luke off before they get to know each other.
Luke is currently working as Santa at the local shopping mall. He figures Theo never has to know. Christmas will be over soon and Luke will move on to a new, less embarrassing job. He’s surprised when Theo and a little boy visit Santa one afternoon. Theo doesn’t recognise Luke, and Luke realises he’s not the only one with a secret.
Despite misgivings on both sides, they start dating, and the chemistry is amazing. But as Christmas approaches their secrets pile up like colourful packages under the tree. If they’re not careful, they’ll lose the best gift of all—each other.
I always look forward to Northcote’s annual holiday novella. I have faith it will be an enjoyable read and make me happy. This year was not a disappointment. White Christmas and white lies are not the best combination but Theo and Luke connect through an online dating service and have a few hiccups early on. It wasn’t intentional. One of those unfortunate information omissions that began the trickle effect of misgivings. But as we know, one lie leads to another and then another…and the molehill becomes a mountain.
Theo is lonely and looking for his special someone. Dating isn’t as easy as he would like for it to be but he has a precious priority that always comes first…his son. Archie is four, cute as can be and sometimes a dating challenge. Theo wants to know the guy is worthy before he introduces anyone to Archie. Past disappointments have made him leery about immediate disclosure of his fatherhood status. When he meets Luke he instantly feels the spark and the potential for more. But he hesitates when it comes to showing all his cards. Better to make sure, right? Four is a dicey age when it comes to visiting Santa but Archie is quickly won over and begs to revisit. So they do. Too bad he never imagined the sweet man in the red suit is concealing the sexy man of his dreams. No misunderstanding but a smidge of deceit that threatens everything they could have been before they even have a chance.
Jay always delivers when it comes to the writing. It’s solid, sexy and fun. Though online dating appears to have its struggles (can’t say I have any personal experience here) it can certainly end with success. And I know Northcote will gift us the happily ever after I want. So I don’t mind pushing through their waffling and wavering to get to the good stuff. Even if I have to suspend belief and imagine that Theo wouldn’t recognize Luke in his suit. I would think or hope that he would but didn’t mind pretending that he didn’t. When it comes to my holiday stories I’m looking for starry-eyed and warm fuzzy feelings…and I’m happy to say our Secret Santa brought that and more.
Both Theo and Luke are lovable guys. Archie, Theo’s son, was a result of a drunken encounter between friends. I liked Caroline (Archie’s mum) and found their relationship and shared custody refreshing. Luke is tired of the dating scene and ready to settle down but not quite thinking children…yet. But then he meets Theo and is confident they have a great connection. When he secretly discovers the plus one in Theo’s life he’s a little unsettled. Why would Theo keep something so big and important from him? He should get out before he sinks any deeper. Too bad sinking deep and getting stuck is the thing he wants the most.
Secrets, an adorable stuffy loving little boy, and steamy dad time…with a candy cane you won’t forget!
If you are looking for a low-angst, high-sensual holiday story with British flare, this Secret Santa has your name on it. Enjoy!