Rating: 4 Stars

Publisher: K.C. Wells

Genre: Gay Holiday Romance

Tags: Contemporary Holiday Fantasy, Christmas, Older Characters, Romance, Virgin

Length: 226 Pages

Reviewer: Cindi

Purchase At: Amazon

This review is a little spoilerish.

Blurb –

Anthony has a secret.
One Christmas Eve when he was twelve, he found Santa laying presents under the tree.
He never told a soul. And the following year he snuck out of bed to see if he could repeat the event.
Every Christmas Eve for more than forty years, he and Santa have met, only now, they’re friends. But although Anthony is ageing, Santa hasn’t changed since that first night.

Something has changed in Anthony, however.
He wants more than one night a year.
He wants Santa.
Except he knows it’s a fantasy.
Everyone knows there’s a Mrs. Claus, right?

Santa has a secret.
And when he finally shares it with Anthony, the consequences will rock both men.

But what will it take to make both their dreams come true?

Review –

The first thing I’m going to say is that I love that cover. The author explains the story behind it in the beginning of the book. It’s gorgeous, and the models are absolutely perfect.

Now my review…

The book starts with fifty-five-year-old Anthony contemplating a major decision he has to make. It’s Christmas Eve and almost the golden hour, so to speak. He knows that no matter what he decides, his life will be irrevocably changed.

He thinks back to what brought him to where he is today. This includes going back to a very special Christmas Eve when he was twelve.

I’m going to throw this out there before I continue – I DESPISE flashbacks in books, seriously despise them. Sometimes rarely they work. They worked in Santa’s Secrets. The reader gets sucked in and pretty much stays there. The entire book, with the exception of a few pages in the beginning and again at the end, covers Anthony jumping from the age of twelve to different ages as he grows up, to where he is now at fifty-five.

The night it all began, he’d gotten in trouble with his parents and been sent to his room before finishing dinner. He was punished for telling his eight-year-old brother Ben that Santa Claus wasn’t real. That’s a big no-no. He’s starving so a few minutes before midnight he sneaks downstairs to steal one of the cookies left out for Santa Claus. He wouldn’t have had to resort to taking the old guy’s snacks had his mother not hidden the rest of the cookies. When he gets downstairs he gets the shock of his life. Standing right there next to the Christmas tree is Santa Claus himself. They speak for a few minutes, with Santa ensuring Anthony that he’d see him again the following year.

This begins an annual thing between Anthony and Santa (aka Nicholas) that lasts until Anthony’s well into adulthood. It’s always around the same time late on Christmas Eve. It doesn’t matter where Anthony is. Santa always finds him. What starts as a quick meeting between Santa Claus and a little boy turns into (much later) a very special friendship for both men, with each looking forward to the next one.

The friendship turns into more WAY into the book. As in, nowhere near the time when Anthony was a child. Romantic feelings snuck into play for Santa/Nicholas when Anthony was in his early thirties, I think? I’m stressing that because I saw where somebody threw out ‘grooming’ with regard to Nicholas and Anthony. I strongly disagree. At no time did Nicholas act inappropriate to the much younger Anthony. Hell, he didn’t show or have any type of interest until, as I said, Anthony was in his thirties. He didn’t even know he was interested in Anthony that way until he had a jealous moment during one of the annual visits.

Nicholas has a lot of secrets. No matter how much Anthony pushes, he doesn’t share. Part of that I could understand to an extent. What I didn’t understand was why it took so many years for him to tell him anything at all. He had his reasons, but I thought it was a bit much.

We’re talking forty-three years of Christmas Eve meetings. Granted, their relationship started changing when Anthony was in his late forties, I think? Even so, that’s an awful lot of years in between with Anthony knowing very little about the man that he’d somehow managed to fall in love with. When things changed in their relationship, it was nice, but they had to wait another year to see each other again… and then another year… and then another year.

You get my point.

Nicholas’ secrets do eventually come out, and Anthony’s able to even visit his home a few times – but only on Christmas Eve, and never for very long.

I get all that, and it was understood because of who Nicholas was. What I wasn’t overly thrilled about was the lack of story in between their once a year meetings. There was literally nothing. The reader knew that Anthony had a somewhat strained relationship with his parents, but they’re not in the book on-page at all that I could recall. There’s mention of his brother as he gets older, marries, and has children. There’s a little bit of talk about what Nicholas does the other 364 days of the year, but it’s never shown. Until the very end of the book, the only two characters in the entire book are Anthony and Nicholas. While I could see where the author was going with it all, I wanted to see what happened when they weren’t together. I wanted to see how Anthony lived. I wanted to see how Nicholas lived.

This is a very unique story, though I ended it feeling like something was missing. The friendship turned relationship was sweet. It was sad when they had to say goodbye each year, but that was understandable. I guess I ended it questioning why Anthony would spend forty-three years of his life basically on hold so that he could spend a few minutes with Nicholas on Christmas Eve. Sure, he had relationships in the book (all off-page) but he still literally put everything on hold for Nicholas. I don’t want to reveal any of Nicholas’ secrets, so I won’t say who or what he spends time with or what he does when he’s not with Anthony. I will say that I felt sorry for him more often than not.

The major decision Nicholas has to make is predictable. The reader knows from the very beginning what it will be. And that brings me to another thing that bugged me a little… who would even ask somebody to make that type of decision? And why on earth did Anthony allow things to go on for so long before it got to that point?

I can’t not mention the sex scenes. Can we say sleigh sex? *snort* Yeah, that was pretty hot. All the sex scenes were, especially considering that Mr. Santa Claus wasn’t exactly experienced. 😉

Even with what I mentioned above, I did enjoy the book. I liked Anthony well enough. As for Nicholas, I think I felt sorry for him more than anything else. Even so, it was a nice read.