Rating: 5 stars
I absolutely hate holiday romances. I don't know why, really. I don't hate the holidays. For some reason, the fact that these books are built around a holiday--be it Easter, Fourth of July, Veteran's Day, Halloween, Thanksgiving, or Christmas, or even birthdays--seem to resonate with a false sense of cheer to me.
I know, I know. It shouldn't be that way, but it is.
So going into this search for an acceptable holiday book was painful. All those jolly people who are slinging gift wrap and ringing bells. I'm the person who thought Scrooge's story was much more poignant than Bob Cratchit and Tiny Tim's. Give me a Scrooge I can love every time.
Fortunately, Eli Easton jumped in my path. Big, growly, in-the-closet Hank Springfield makes a wonderful holiday hero. Hank's the sore thumb in his brother Micah's fraternity at Pennsylvania State University. Hank belies his philosophy major by saying he wants bong parties, loud music, and crowded rooms of drunks after midnight.
Hank hates the frat's token gay, Sloane, even though everyone else in the frat loves him. When frat president Micah orders Hank to work with Sloane in coming up with the best frat holiday party ever, Hank balks. But Micah is adamant, and Hank and Sloane reluctantly team up.
When the find they both love murder mysteries, they come up with a workable and popular Who-Killed-Santa theme. In the process, Sloane crushes on Hank, who isn't quite so sure about Sloane.
After Sloane's academic parents extend him an off-hand invitation to join them in Israel for a wedding over the holiday break, Sloane resigns himself to staying either at school or somewhere close by.
Micah, however, won't hear of this, and invites Sloane to his and Hank's rural Pennsylvania home for the holidays. Sloane accepts.
Author Easton magically melds a Scrooge tale onto a cheerful holiday story here, and also adds a little bit of suspense to what starts out to be a linear romance between A and B. Turns out Micah has the hots for Sloane as his brother Hank begins to fall for him. So A (Sloane) has his choice of B or C (Hank or Micah). This brings a bit of spice to a holiday story that looks fairly predictable at the beginning.
All in all if a reader wants something a little different in a holiday tale, I wholeheartedly recommend Unwrapping Hank.