“A fairy tale for the real world.” — Book Review: Winter Oranges, by Marie Sexton

sexton-Winter-OrangesWinter Oranges, by Marie Sexton
Release Date: November 30, 2015

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Buy Link: Riptide Publishing

I received an advanced copy of this novel in exchange for a fair and honest review.

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Jason Walker is a child star turned teen heartthrob turned reluctant B-movie regular who’s sick of his failing career. So he gives up Hollywood for northern Idaho, far away from the press, the drama of LA, and the best friend he’s secretly been in love with for years.

There’s only one problem with his new life: a strange young man only he can see is haunting his guesthouse. Except Benjamin Ward isn’t a ghost. He’s a man caught out of time, trapped since the Civil War in a magical prison where he can only watch the lives of those around him. He’s also sweet, funny, and cute as hell, with an affinity for cheesy ’80s TV shows. And he’s thrilled to finally have someone to talk to.

But Jason quickly discovers that spending all his time with a man nobody else can see or hear isn’t without its problems—especially when the tabloids find him again and make him front-page news. The local sheriff thinks he’s on drugs, and his best friend thinks he’s crazy. But Jason knows he hasn’t lost his mind. Too bad he can’t say the same thing about his heart.

Twenty percent of the proceeds from this title will be donated to the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender (GLBT) National Help Center.

My Review: Reading this novel reminded me of old fairy tales from when I was a kid, with people who are cursed and trying to find true love. It was lyrical, magical, and romantic! But it was also completely immersed in reality, which I loved; a fairy tale for the real world!

Jason is pretty messed up after a childhood in Hollywood, a series of bad encounters with the paparazzi, and an unrequited crush on his best (and only) friend. He’s escaped to rural Idaho with the sole intention of keeping his head down and reveling in the solitude. But fate has other ideas for him… like a ghost named Benjamin.

I really loved Ben, and his excitement and genuine reactions to Jason’s presence. I think the romance was gorgeous, and the relationship progressed at the perfect pace.

But Jason! Oh man, Marie is one of those writers who knows exactly how to write characters and emotions that just toe the line of too much. There were so many times where I wanted to cover my eyes and wrap my arms around Jason, because he really gets the short end of the stick here, but I quickly realized that I can trust Marie to guide the story and flirt with that line between tension and out-right angst.

There were a few moments that were borderline second-hand-embarrassment for me (when the character does something humiliating and you, as the reader, feel their humiliation as your own), but thankfully nothing ever came of it.

Overall this was an excellent story, and a beautiful, magical winter romance! Highly recommended, especially if you want a winter themed novel that doesn’t focus on Christmas!

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