Rating: 3 out of 5
Buy Link: Publisher
I received an advanced copy of this novel in exchange for a fair and honest review.
The Christmas Eve wedding Evan Cleary pulled together in four weeks is crashing down around him and taking his fledgling event planning business with it. With an empty altar and over a hundred guests arriving soon, he turns to the resistant, gorgeous brother of the runaway groom for help.
When Richard Patterson’s flamboyant brother storms out hours before he’s scheduled to marry his equally dramatic partner, Richard is left dealing with the fallout. The last thing he wants is more drama, yet he can’t deny his attraction to the effeminate event planner trying to salvage the wedding.
Evan thinks his crush on Richard is a lost cause, but one steaming kiss later, he learns different. What starts as a night of hot sex turns into a connection neither expected. But Evan knows their relationship is hopeless unless the ultra-conservative Richard can embrace every part of him—both in private and in public.
Lynda Aicher is a well-known name in Romance novels, but she is definitely better known for writing in the M/F side of the genre. I did love her M/M novel Bonds of Denial, but with Champagne Kisses I struggled to really sink into the story.
Don’t get me wrong! It’s a really enjoyable read, and the sex is delightfully steamy. But I’m not sure if it was the shorter length (the novel falls in at about 80 pages) or the stereotypical characterizations that made it difficult for me to move beyond simply enjoying and into being captivated by the story.
Evan is a take-no-shit event planner, but he’s also a swishy, out, effeminate gay man. Richard is barely out of the closet, and a Man’s Man, disapproving of the flamboyance that Evan wears so comfortably. They are, I’m sorry to say, stereotypes, and the shorter length of the novel doesn’t allow for enough time to expand them from cardboard cutouts into fully-fleshed characters.
That said, I really liked the plot itself. The event planner who manages to save the day after a wedding is cancelled at the last second (drama! vases being thrown!), and the stuck-up brother of the groom, work together to break down each other’s barriers. The chemistry between them is palpable, and I really love the “I’m secretly attracted to you but refuse to acknowledge it” trope.
In the end, I think I got my hopes up because of the name on the cover, and forgot that I’m not a novella person. For me, shorter novels generally don’t give the depth and emotional connection that I crave, and I can’t get absorbed in the narrative.
If you want a short, sweet holiday read with some steamy bedroom scenes, you should still check this out. Aicher’s writing is solid. Just don’t look for much beneath the surface.