Mr. Jingle Bells

I put out the question to a friend group for Christmas themed books and Mr. Jingle Bells by Leta Blake was suggested.  Glancing at it, it checked a lot of boxes for me.  Christmas romance?  Check. Fake dating? Check. Dogs?  Check. The bonus round was bisexual man falling for another guy.  I’m here for that. 

The synopsis is as follows: After an emergency forces Aston Sellers from his apartment, all he wants for Christmas is a new lip gloss, zero contact from his abusive family and a place to stay for the holidays.  Cue his business partner begrudgingly taking him in.

Walker’s a fuddy-duddy with no sense of fun but he does have a safe, warm home with fours adorable dogs and delicious food on the table.  

There’s more but I don’t want to give away the story.  Walker, Aston, and Casey are business partners for an advertising agency they all built.  After Walker takes Ashton in, they set up a plan to pretend to be boyfriends at Walker’s sister’s wedding to keep the more conservative family member’s attention on them and not on his sister. Of course, fake love slips into true love and that’s when all the problems start. 

The story is cute, and the dogs are adorable and Walker’s sister Evelyn is the perfect sister who knows exactly what’s up.  Her family drama is enough to grab the popcorn and watch the fun at the wedding, had Walker and Ashton not agreed to circumnavigate all of the drama towards them, which, of course, Ashton does wonderfully. 

Walker has a mess of dogs.

The back stories of Ashton and Walker though are what bring out the true heart of the story.  Walker’s family, his own demons that he’s fighting every day. The struggle of being a bisexual man in a family of rich, conservative men. Ashton’s family trauma and struggles along with the abusive past makes it easy to understand why he has trust issues.  But we as readers get to see beyond those as well and nearly into the heart of these men.  Walker’s struggle with still wanting his father’s approval and discovering his own heart.  Ashton’s yearning for acceptance and love yet too scared to let himself trust.  They’re all read things and they’re what make this story so sweetly told. 

I will mention that if you have issues with religious abuse, drug use, emotional abuse, & gaslighting, come into this story carefully.  While it’s discussed carefully, readers should know that they’re there.

New study says trigger warnings are useless. Does that mean they should be  abandoned?
Content Warning

I truly loved the plot.  But personally, there were a few things that pulled me out of this story.  Again, these are personal and may not reflect other readers enjoyment of the book.  Like most readers, I anticipated the eventual first kiss and first time they fell into bed and was ecstatic when it happened.  Then I skimmed over all the sex scenes because, for me, they pulled me right out of the story.  I am not a fan of “alpha males” romance novels and while Walker is not what I would call the stereotypical “alpha male” the way he approached sex and pillow talk was very much the epitome of dude bro and I just couldn’t read it. 

Again, this was the only disappointment for me, and it may not reflect other’s enjoyment of the story.  I won’t talk on my thoughts of Ashton’s initial characterization in the story as I’m not sure it’s a me thing and I’m still trying to get input from the gay men in my life on if this is a stereotype or an actual thing some gay men personify. 

If you want a good Christmas story with a happy ending and some laugh out loud funny scenes (cock a leekie soup), absolutely pick up this book and enjoy it for the holiday season.

In case you wanted to know. I was curious!

 Next up are holiday stories featuring our favorite detective, Sherlock Holmes.

Christmas is coming. The nights are getting longer, colder, and Christmas carols are starting to seep into your life wherever you go. 

Remember to take time out for yourself, my friends. Relax and curl up with a warm blanket, your favorite hot drink and a warm book.

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