Author: Jackie Keswick
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Rating: 4 stars
Type: Novella in a Series
Received from Publisher
Blurb: Jack Horwood doesn’t do families. Or Christmas. From the time his mother sold him to her pimp to the moment he walked out on the man he loved, Christmas has always been about change and painful choices. This year seems no different. Helping Daniel and Nico recover from their imprisonment and hunting down those responsible puts Jack in a frame of mind he doesn’t want to inflict on anyone. Least of all Gareth and the tentative relationship they’ve started to rebuild.
But Gareth, for whom Christmas is all about new beginnings, won’t let Jack take the easy way out. He makes him face his ghosts instead. Even when said ghosts invade their bedroom.
When Daniel’s parents are found, Jack is determined to settle the matter without involving Daniel at all. But fate decrees otherwise, and it’s Gareth who helps him finally understand that the strongest bonds are those forged together. Once he gets that, Jack can step up and make a decision designed to lay his ghosts to rest—for good.
Review: Holidays are awkward for new couples and can be stressful for people who had unpleasant childhoods. Jack Horwood knows his boyfriend Gareth Flynn loves Christmas. They both want to start their own traditions and make a happy life for themselves, but we are the summation of our past experiences. The past doesn’t just go away because we want it to. Jack pours a lot of his time into helping Daniel and Nico recover from their time in captivity. Finding people who Gareth’s mother believes could be Daniel’s parents adds another layer of stress on top of an already stressful holiday season. Gareth has to sit back and watch as Jack figures out what steps he needs to take in his own life to deal with his own personal ghosts and how to keep new ones at bay. Jack, has to stop making assumptions, even if they’re right.
I really enjoy Jack and Gareth, but felt this installment was a bit heavy handed. Yes, Jack has a lot of ghosts. Yes. However, I think it was really important we saw that Jack’s ghosts aren’t just going to go away because he’s got the love of a good man. People aren’t magically cured just because they enter into a loving relationship. Actually, people aren’t magically cured. Jack has ghosts and he’s going to have them forever, he’s got to learn how to deal with them. Sadly, some things may be forever off the table for Jack and Gareth because of that.
It now appears Jack has stopped treading water and is ready to move forward. He’s making long term plans for his and Gareth’s life. He’s trying to prevent the same issues that affect him from affecting Daniel and Nico. Jack has finally acknowledged that in his lifetime of fighting he’s chosen to ignore fighting his own ghosts. He’s now decided to take up the fight against them.