Erryn reviews ‘Mr. Jingle Bells’ by Leta Blake. The book was published November 1, 2021 and is 456 pages. The audio was narrated by Nick Hudson and released on November 3, 2021 and is 15 hours & 55 minutes. A copy was provided in exchange for an honest review.
Why I listened to this: I loved Mr. Naughty List.
Opposites attract as frosty business partners become fake boyfriends in this Christmas gay romance!
After an emergency forces Ashton Sellers from his apartment, all he wants for Christmas is 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 four adorable dogs and delicious food on the table.
What if it turns out Walker’s also a secret softy with a tender side and a hot body beneath his endless parade of golf shirts? Great, good, cool. And, what if Walker wants Ashton to pretend to be his boyfriend for his sister’s Christmas-themed wedding? Awesome, amazing.
Could Walker be the safe haven Ashton missed out on as a child? Could they be falling in love for real?
But, when Ashton uncovers a painful mistake in Walker’s past, it hits too close to home. As the jingle bells quiet and the snow settles, will Ashton be able to forgive Walker, or will their relationship be over before it ever truly begins?
Mr. Jingle Bells is a gay Christmas story by Leta Blake featuring forced proximity, opposites attract, fake dating, office romance, steamy scenes, and a taffy-sweet happy ending. It’s set in the Home for the Holidays universe, which began with Mr. Frosty Pants, but can be read as a stand-alone.
Note: Content warnings for childhood abuse, past addiction issues, PTSD episodes, and gambling.
I’ll address the length first of all. Most audios I listen to are between eight and twelve hours. A few shorter, the odd one longer. Ten hours is about my sweet spot. Anything longer than twelve takes a planned commitment. When this one landed in my player, I planned on it taking almost a week. It didn’t. I sped through it because I wanted to know what came next. I had read the previous two books in the series, but it would’ve been okay if I hadn’t.
Ashton pulled me in from the beginning. I’ve never had bed bugs, but after having rented in some dodgy places, it’d always been a worry of mine. I felt complete empathy for him when he was turfed from his place. His creative offer to play fake boyfriend to anyone willing to give him a couch was cute. It fit his personality. He glowed. But that glow is a veneer that covers deep emotional pain – another thing I can empathize and that resonated with me.
Walker is a great guy. Yeah, he had a short fall from grace, but he’s done okay for himself. He’s a partner in an advertising agency along with Ashton and Casey. They make a good team. Ashton being the flamboyant one while Walker is the straight man and Casey’s somewhere in the middle. Walker doesn’t understand Ashton. He worries about the reputation of the firm, and wonders if Ashton’s antics might cost them clients. Never has, but one can never be too careful. So when Ashton puts the outrageous offer on Facebook, Walker feels the need to shut it down. He offers Ashton a place to live.
Now, there were surprises at Walker’s house that I wasn’t anticipating. Especially because he comes across as a bit of a Scrooge in the opening scene.
When Walker’s sister needs a distraction at her wedding, Ashton is all-in. The men devise a plan to pull focus away from the bride and groom. Yes, that’s not the usual plan, but Walker’s sister is desperate. Personally, I think they should have eloped. But what fun would that be? Ashton is at his sparkly best, and Walker’s right there with him. I laughed. A lot.
Then a dark incident from Walker’s past comes to light and Ashton feels the need to walk away. He’s fallen into this trap too often with his own family. A highly dysfunctional family. He’s not getting suckered in again.
I admit feeling a moment of despair. I knew everything would be alright, but I also knew it’d be a high mountain for the men to climb. Climb it they did, and I got my happily ever after.
I can’t end this review without mentioning Nick Hudson. He’s a narrator I trust to deliver a great performance and he did just that. I especially like how he did the kids’ voices.
Worth the time investment? You bet. Glad I listened to it.
9.5/10 Pots of Gold (95% Recommended) – Compares to 4.75/5 Stars
Author of the bestselling book Smoky Mountain Dreams and the fan favorite Training Season, Leta Blake’s educational and professional background is in psychology and finance, respectively. However, her passion has always been for writing. She enjoys crafting romance stories and exploring the psyches of made up people. At home in the Southern U.S., Leta works hard at achieving balance between her day job, her writing, and her family.
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