“Christmas Crackers” by Jay Northcote

about

Three bestselling MM Christmas romances in one great collection!

Best friends snowed in together. When the heat rises, will they get cold feet?

Getting snowed in at a remote cottage in Wales with someone he’d fancied for ages isn’t exactly how Sam expected to spend Christmas. His feelings for Ryan are pointless. Ryan’s straight—or so he thought.

Until now, Ryan’s kept his feelings for Sam buried. Why ruin a friendship over what might only be gay experimentation? Playing it cool seems safer, until a cold snap makes sharing body heat vital. In their Welsh safe haven, anything seems possible.

As Ryan’s reserve melts away, Sam wants more than stolen kisses under the mistletoe. But a sudden thaw means making decisions. They could face the New Year together—unless one of them gets cold feet.

* * *
When two friends pose as boyfriends, could what happens at Christmas turn into something more?

Justin is recently and unhappily single. Christmas is coming, and he doesn’t want to face his ex alone at their office party. So Sean—Justin’s best mate and long-time secret crush—volunteers to go with him and pretend to be his new flame.

Sean has always lusted after Justin from afar, but there’s never been a good opportunity to ask him for more than friendship. Posing as Justin’s boyfriend isn’t a chore, and if Justin wants to rebound onto him, Sean’s more than willing. At the party pretence and reality blur, and a kiss on the dance floor leads to a night of passion.

In the aftermath, they both assume it was a one-time thing until fate intervenes. Stuck together in London over the holidays, they give in to temptation again. But what happens at Christmas stays at Christmas… right?

* * *
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 pretence 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 armour, he might get more for Christmas than he ever imagined.

review

If one is good, two is better, then three must be…full of lovely glee!
This trio includes some of Northcote’s previous holiday stories and I enjoyed them just as much this second time around. Since first impressions are often best, here’s the essence of my earlier reviews.

Cold Feet
Sam and Ryan are on holiday break and embark on a journey that will change their lives. You see, Sam is gay and is hopelessly in love with Ryan, his straight best friend. I can hear what you are thinking….’been there, done that’. But wait! I have found that it doesn’t matter how many times I’ve read a particular ‘theme’, what truly matters is- how well it’s done. This time? It was done beautifully. They are off to the countryside for a few days of rest and relaxation before Christmas. An unexpected snowstorm traps them, isolates the two of them in a haven of beauty. Peace, quiet, and shared body warmth become quite the temptation. Aren’t the holidays all about indulging?

Sam is single and having a hard time settling down because his heart belongs to Ryan, unbeknownst to Ryan. Ryan has used his college years to thoroughly explore the girls on campus, but now believes the reason he has not found ‘the one’ is because he’s already found them, or more precisely, him. They are amazing friends and it gets even better when they cross that irreversible line. Circumstance prevents an opportunity and they tip-toe and then pounce on it. Bless the lovely mistletoe.

Snowbound at Christmas is a gift. Well, if you ask me it is. I love watching the flakes fall and pile up, coating the world in a fresh glistening blanket. There is something pure and comforting about being snowed in. And it’s soooo romantic.
Sam and Ryan discover life has a funny way of putting you exactly where you are supposed to be. The boys blissfully find that place happens to be in each other’s arms.
Then the snow melts and along with it the happy bubble they were in. Can they hold onto what they found, the precious gift of love…or was it an illusion all along?
I absolutely adored finding out!

What happens at Christmas
I want this book to be real. An honest to goodness true-life tale. I want Justin to exist. I want Sean to exist. I want every morsel of this story to exist. I wish with my whole heart that it is factual and actual and….simply true. Why? Because it dazzles with charm, twinkles with joy, and glistens with passion….it’s the perfect package and I LOVED it.

Justin never actually ‘came out’. He didn’t have to, he was constantly ‘called out’. Everyone knew he was gay, there was no denying it. Whereas his best friend, Sean, was a late bloomer with his sexuality and he danced with denial for years. The force-driven behind Sean’s realization and acceptance of his sexuality was his underlying attraction to his bestie. Justin was a serial monogamist and never single long enough for Sean to act on his hidden desires. Little did Sean know that Justin felt the same and kept bouncing from one boyfriend to another to avoid idle hands and make a move that might cost him his best friend.

I’m a firm believer in ‘everything happens for a reason’ and sometimes the time is just not right. But when the time is right, it can be a beautiful gift. It’s nearly Christmas when Sean returns from his adventurous travels. He took his backpack and trekked across the world for most of the year and needs a place to crash. Considering how his father handled his coming out, he’s not keen on going back home. So, he turns to Justin. Justin is recovering from a recent breakup and is eager for the distraction of a house guest, especially since it’s his favorite mate.

Justin wants to skip out on the holiday office party to avoid his ex. He is certain he will arrive with his latest arm candy and he just can’t bear to watch. When Sean suggests that he attend as his ‘plus one’ and pretend to be his boyfriend Justin is game. Maybe this will turn out to be fun after all. Pretending to be Sean’s boyfriend won’t be difficult but what happens when it doesn’t feel like pretending anymore? *whispers* Good stuff is what!

A Family For Christmas
Rudy works for Rainbow Futures and he’s got a serious crush on the new guy, Zac. However, it looks like a crush is as far as it’s going to get because Zac is a recluse and shuts down every attempt at changing that. When his boss makes it clear he is to join the staff for a night out, he’s forced out of his hermit status. When drinks turn into shots, Rudy throws caution to the wind and makes his move. The evening does not play out as Rudy envisioned but it opens a door between them. When Zac confides he has no plans for Christmas because he has no family, Rudy offers an olive branch. He likes Zac and would love to have anything Zac can give, even if it’s just friendship. To his surprise, Zac accepts. He timidly takes what Rudy is offering and it looks like for the first time, he has plans for Christmas.

Zac shocked himself as much as Rudy when he agreed to go home with him for the holidays. A moment of weakness in his fierce facade allowed him to take…which is something he has learned not to do. Zac has no one and relies on no one. He has discovered the hard way that he can’t trust anyone. But what if he’s wrong? What if he was trusting the wrong people before and will lose out on something magnificent if he turns away now? Zac thinks Rudy is sweet, naive, and hot…perhaps this is the chance worth taking.

It’s obvious where Rudy gets all of his charming personality from, his family. They are loads of fun! From traditional meals and drinks to games (Sardines!) they all kept me rolling. I enjoyed each and every one of them. Rudy has a large crew at home but they were easy to keep straight. I struggled a bit with separating their co-workers in my head and definitely preferred the time spent at Rudy’s parent’s home, but you’d be crazy to not want to be there.

The visit home may begin as playing fake boyfriends after a miscommunication, but it quickly turns into something much more. Do you know how some people brighten when a certain individual is around? Zac begins to glow in Rudy’s presence. It’s so beautiful. I adored witnessing both of them change in different ways. More confident. More vulnerable. More content. Just…more. They both have special gifts and when they share them with each other, the story sparkles. Some of my favorite parts include a dark closet, a kitty, and a chance to love and be loved.

bookisforIf you’re needing a boost this holiday, I’d highly suggest you grab this set of charming Christmas stories. I did notice several repetitions reading them all together but tickles and snow fights are great fun no matter how many times we get them! All-in-all, it’s bursting with jolly good fun.

bookinfo

TITLE: Christmas Crackers
AUTHOR: Jay Northcote
PUBLISHER: Jaybird Press
LENGTH: 411 pages
RELEASE DATE: November 16, 2020
BUY LINKS: Amazon, AmazonUK

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