A guest review by Lily
Sequel to The Mistletoe Phenomenon
Lance Rivera and Magnus Carstens are settling into their new life as a family with Magnus’s nephew Jakob. But Magnus’s parents are not enthusiastic about his choice of life partner and try to separate Magnus and Lance while they vacation in Sweden with Jakob. The woman they think more suitable for Magnus is Sigrid, an ex-student who is his intellectual equal and has loved and pursued him for years. Magnus seems oblivious, but when an attractive offer from the University of Stockholm is added to the mix, Lance faces a crisis: What if Magnus chooses the new job and a life with Sigrid over the family he’s started with Lance and Jakob?
This sequel starts out just a few weeks after the end of The Mistletoe Phenomenon. Lance and Magnus are living together with Jakob, Magnus’ small nephew. The men are in love and very happy with Lance taking the role of the stay at home Dad, which is what he’s dreamed of all his life, and Magnus working as a Park Ranger. With the holidays over Jakob starts school and things become difficult for both Lance and Jakob.
The trio live in the small town of Mistletoe, Wyoming and their openly gay household is not well received by some of the residents. Lance and Jakob get the brunt of it while Magnus is pretty much oblivious to it. Things come to a head when Jakob has troubles at school and finally Magnus is clued in to what his loved ones are going through. Magnus decides to take his new family to Sweden during summer vacation and slowly things settle down a bit while the school year finishes.
The day finally arrives and they fly off to Sweden anticipating a few weeks of fun and adventure while they visit with Magnus’ parents. But things are far from fun for Lance when they arrive in Sweden and he realizes that Magnus’ parents in no way support their son’s sexual orientation. Instead they are determined to bring him around by bringing Sigrid, a beautiful woman who works in Magnus’ field, into his life. Magnus struggles with how to deal with his parents, Lance’s feelings as well as with Sigrid and an offer from his old University.
In the meantime Lance is having problems speaking up for himself and instead of talking with Magnus he makes it too easy for the parents and Sigrid to get in the way. Finally having had enough of their interference and with Magnus slow to respond Lance takes matters into his own hand. His actions at last force Magnus to face how far his parents, especially his father, have been willing to go to break up his relationship with Lance. Magnus now has to convince Lance that he does truly love him and wants them to be a family despite whatever anyone else has to say about it.
What I liked…
Lance and Magnus, along with Jakob, are nicely written, likable characters. In this story we see the men in a more realistic light as they live and love, make mistakes and learn from them all while doing the best they can to make Jakob’s life as happy as possible. They may not always succeed, indeed at times they act against themselves, but by the end they’ve both learned that if they are going to make it as a family they need to share and communicate. This was a hard lesson especially for Lance to learn.
I also really enjoyed the descriptions regarding their time in Sweden. The holiday traditions, the different locations and customs were woven really well into the story and made for an interesting read.
What I didn’t like…
In a word, Sigrid. She is written as a cold and calculating woman with obviously no feelings for others and her insistence that she and Magnus belonged together made no sense. The hurtful scene she made in front of Jakob and Magnus’ shocking silence throughout was for me the worst scene of the book. I know her character as well as the Father is there to create tension in the couple’s storyline but I felt it went a bit too far.
Despite my reservations with Sigrid and the Father I quite enjoyed this story. Magnus and Lance are nice guys, if a bit clueless at times, and for the most part they worked hard to provide a happy and loving home for Jakob. Since this story was longer than the first there was more time to ‘feel’ their connection, the sex scenes are well written and quite hot and the ending, although a bit too ‘sweet’ was nevertheless satisfying. Recommended.