Rating: 4 Stars

Publisher: Morgan Lysand

Genre: Gay Holiday Romance

Tags: Contemporary, Best Friends-to-Lovers, Christmas, Romance, Series

Length: 141 Pages

Reviewer: Cindi

Purchase At: Amazon

Blurb –

It’s Christmas time again and Shae can’t wait to slide into Jingle—his elf persona—for a few weeks at the Frostdale mall. The costumes, the scents, the bright laughter, his friends. It all fuels him for the rest of the year. What he doesn’t anticipate is his entire world changing when his best friend moves back home after being away for eight long years.

Trace has had one goal in mind since his family moved away from Frostdale and that’s to get back. He’s finally saved enough money after college, and he’s home just in time for the holidays. He doesn’t expect to see Shae as anything other than his best friend, but once they’re together again, sparks fly and he can’t help but realize he wants something more.

Jingle is a best friends to lovers, sweet and spicy MM romance featuring a talented pianist that moonlights as a mall elf every Christmas and a web developer that wants to help unwrap him. Jingle is part of the Merry Elf-Mas multi-author series. Each story can be read as a standalone, but why not come along for the ride as each of Santa’s elves finds love during the holidays?

Review –

This is my second multi-author Christmas series I’ve started this year. With the other series (Christmas Falls), I’d read most of those authors before. With the Merry Elf-Mas series, I think they’re all new to me. I love discovering new authors, so I can’t wait to read the rest of the books.

The first thing I’m going to say about Jingle is that it’s just so cute. It’s silly, and fluffy, and severely over the top on pretty much everything, but you know what? I enjoyed the heck out of it.

Shae and Trace were literally born on the same day, at the exact same time, in the same hospital. They were neighbors and best friends until Trace’s family moved from Maine to Florida with his family when he and Shae were 14. The distance didn’t change their friendship. They still talked and texted all the time, and even cooler, they’ve been sending each other weekly handwritten letters in the mail for years. I love the last part. How often do you hear of anybody still writing letters and sending them via snail mail? It was very refreshing.

The last letter Shae receives from Trace has good news and bad news. The bad news? That was the last letter Trace would be sending. The good news? It’s the last letter because Trace is moving back home. Shae is beyond thrilled but he doesn’t have time to think about it. He’s the head elf at the mall during the holiday season, and he and other ‘elves’ have to work to get Santa’s Village up and decorated. On top of that, he designs and makes all the costumes, is going to college for music (the major) and design (the minor), and also has an audition to be the lead pianist in an upcoming Christmas charitable event.

Trace coming home is the best thing ever as far as Shae is concerned. He’s had a serious secret crush on his best friend for as long as he can remember. According to Wendy, Trace’s sister, Trace has had that same crush, though it takes him a few minutes to figure it out after that conversation. Once it clicks that he’s in love with Trace, he sends a couple of texts to Shae calling him adorable and cute. Of course, Shae freaks out, wondering if he’s reading too much into two little texts.

Spoiler alert: he wasn’t.

Everything happens really fast once Trace comes back to Maine. He feels that enough time has been wasted already now that it’s finally clicked that what he’s been feeling for his best friend goes way beyond friendship. One kiss is all it takes and it’s game over for these guys. 😉

I loved Trace’s family. I mentioned Wendy, but there are also her twins Porter and Kenzie, and Trace’s parents. Well, his mom because his dad wasn’t in the book, but he was talked about.

I can’t express how much I loved Peggy, Shae’s mother.

The other mall elves were hilarious. I look forward to reading their stories.

I also loved Trace. He was just too cute and gave off some seriously sweet Daddy vibes, something also mentioned in the book a time or two.

As for Shae/Jingle, I liked him well enough too, but he could be a bit… much. I understood where the author was going with Shae’s childlike excitement over the holidays, but throughout the book he came across as just that – childlike. Too childlike. He’s twenty-two, but he acted MUCH younger throughout most of the book.

I liked Trace and Shae together, but I found a few things to be over the top, the main thing being their public displays of affection. Hey, I’m all about a little PDA here and there, but once these two came together as a couple, they were all over each other. They didn’t care who was around or where they were. A kiss here and there? No big deal. Kissing and grinding against each other in front of, well, pretty much everybody? Or even a quick blow job in the very public mall parking lot not even looking around to see if anybody’s watching? Yeah, too much. When everything came together together at the end, I was sitting here thinking how I’d cringe if I saw that happen in the real world, regardless of the genders of the couples. Don’t get me wrong, it was very sweet, but again, too much.

Overall, this is a really cute story by an author I’d never read before. I should also note that if you’re looking for the series order on Goodreads, don’t bother because I couldn’t find the books anywhere together except on the ‘also enjoyed’ part of the book pages. They’re listed correctly on Amazon.