Let It Snow

letitsnowTitle: Let It Snow
Author: Michael Barnette
Publisher: Loose Id
Genre: Contemporary M/M, Multicultural
Length: Novella
Rating: 3.75 stars out of 5

A guest review by Leslie

THE BLURB

Cooper Heywood is working on his own at Rocky Mountain National Park over the Christmas holiday. It’s not a busy time of year but there are a few groups of people he has to watch over. The one that most annoys him is the photographer. In his experience photographers are a real pain in the behind. They don’t understand how fast the weather can change in the Rockies and they’re determined to take their shot.

Alejandro Velez is an accomplished photographer with several beautiful coffee table photo books to his credit. He’s come to the Rockies to photograph the wintry landscape for his newest book, Let it Snow: The Beauty of Winter. What he doesn’t plan on is the instant attraction he feels for the handsome park ranger who wants to keep him cabin-bound.

More than snow flies on the wind, and Cooper and Alejandro soon discover campfires and cocoa aren’t the only hot things in the Rockies this winter.

THE REVIEW

Another holiday book…similar to the one I reviewed here, this was a short, fast read that was entertaining, mostly innocuous, and pretty much forgettable. Sometimes it is fun to have an easy read to occupy your mind for a few hours. If that is what you are in the mood for, Let It Snow might well fill the bill.

Cooper is a park ranger who happens to have a thing for hot Latino guys. He is already anticipating his two week vacation on South Beach as soon as he gets through the last weeks of December at work. But he’s a conscientious fellow and is going to be very thorough and meticulous and do everything that is expected of him on the job.

Cooper drives around the park, checking on the few groups of winter campers, dreading meeting one in particular, a photographer, because he’s sure he won’t know anything about living in the wilderness. Turns out he’s wrong on that score. On top of that, the photographer, Alejandro, is Cooper’s fantasy come to life: a hot Latino guy in a down parka! They converse, they get friendly, they figure out they are both gay—before long they are sharing kisses and beyond.

The progress of their romance is written like a very sweet courtship which might be nice in real life but reading it is a bit formulaic. I’ve read books like this before; I feel like the author has a clipboard next to the keyboard and checks off each sex act/scene as it is written, each one becoming more intimate. Any wild guesses as to what Alejandro gives Cooper for Christmas?

Barnette throws in a blizzard for some suspense, but it really isn’t all that tense. This is mostly the story of the developing relationship between Cooper and Alejandro, which is another way of saying there’s lots of sex. But it’s very sweet and loving and not at all kinky, so reading it is not likely to make your eyeballs ache.

This is definitely a holiday story with a strong Christmas theme. If you are one of those folks who will only listen to The Nutcracker in December, you should probably wait until next December to read this. But if you don’t care about the season and you want to read about a love that is—well, maybe not hot enough to melt the snow off the roof but still has a little sizzle and spark—then give this one a go.

15 comments

  • I read this book right after it was released and really enjoyed it. It *is* sweet and an easy read; and given the stressors of events in my life at that time, exactly what I needed. I did notice the Latino fixation but didn’t read much into it as there were other traits that applied to humans as a whole. And people have their own mental checklist of what’s attractive!

    I’m not saying this is as eloquently as others could and have edited my comments endlessly so *I* don’t present as racist or bigoted! It can certainly be a touchy subject and I do remember thinking to myself……..”hmm, wonder if anyone’s going to be offended by that……?”

    Anyway, I would have rated it a bit higher but not a 5….but I would rarely consider a novella a 5. I’m always kind of disappointed in that there’s so much missing just because it *is* a novella. And then I wonder each time why I buy them.

    • Hi Sherri, thanks for your comment. Re: the rating…I’m really trying to stick to Wave’s rating scale. She considers 3 to be “average” and 4 “a really good read, recommended” and for me, this fell in between the two. The other holiday story I reviewed I rated a 3.5; I gave this an extra quarter star because I thought the writing was a bit better.

      L

  • Yeah, Leslie, I agree the multicultural label doesn’t really fly here. I was actually somewhat surprised by the ethnic fetishization in this book, since Loose-Id has published some excellent multicultural books, such as Amor en Retrogado, which you all recently reviewed. Of course, I haven’t read all of their multi-cultural m/m books, and none of the het stuff, so I guess I can’t really speak to their publishing as a whole. I’ve also yet to read a book with a ‘full-figured,’ if such terms apply to men, gay hero, so I guess there are still some boundaries that have yet to be breached!

  • Ok, so I don’t necessarily disagree with your review– it was mostly sweet and mostly forgettable, but I was also really annoyed by the ethnic fetishization, which was omnipresent throughout the book, especially on the part of Cooper. He really wants to be with a hot Latino guy, but they’re all too macho and randy, too interested in spreading it around, to settle down? Their overall studliness is what makes most of them unsuitable mates? Puh-lease! It was so overblown and ridiculous that I couldn’t really be offended by it (although I imagine some people might be), but it was mentioned so often it just made have to stop and roll my eyes constantly, which did diminish my enjoyment of the story.

    • Alaina, thanks for this comment. This is a very good point and thanks for saying it more articulately than I ever could (which is part of the reason I didn’t bring it up, because I didn’t want to write something that would be offensive to a potential reader). Personally, I think it would have been better to drop the “multicultural” label (assigned by the publisher) and just let Alejandro be a person named Alejandro and stop focusing on the fact that he was Latino. It really added nothing to the story and as you said, for many, it might have been offensive as well.

      L

      • Leslie and Alaina
        When I questioned LI about its labels sometime ago i.e. “multicultural” which to me means something entirely different to “interracial” they pointed out that they wanted their stories to stress the cultural differences between the characters in order to qualify for this label. In other words, the mere fact that the characters were of different races was not enough, their cultural backgrounds had to be explored in the story, especially how they impacted the romance.

        *
        I made this enquiry several months ago so my interpretation may not be exact but I think it’s close. Perhaps this is why the writer stressed the supposed “studly” differences between a Latino lover and a Caucasian in the book. 🙁

        • Wave, that’s good to know about the definition. For me, that definition makes a lot of sense, if we take ‘stress’ to mean ‘explore’ . This book doesn’t really explore cultural difference, it merely uncritically reproduces the most reductive (and racist, if we get down to it) stereotypes about machismo and Latino culture. And, as Leslie says, it doesn’t add anything to the story.
          *
          Alejandro doesn’t seem to possess any of the Latin traits that Cooper fetishizes. He’s Latino on the surface, what with his name, his darker skin, hair and eyes, and the fact that he lives in Miami (wow, typecasting!), but beyond that, he’s studly in the way that a lot of men in m/m romance are studly, nor do the parts from his perspective register any cultural difference. He’s pretty ‘whitewashed’ in terms of culture. Now that I’m thinking about it, Alejandro seems to be an acceptable compromise for Cooper, who wants the cache of having an ethnic lover, without having to actually deal with the reality of ethnic difference.
          *
          To me this seems like a case of an author wanting to think about ethnicity and difference, and wanting to think about fetishization, but stumbling when it comes to the issue of combining those two ideas.
          *
          Fetishization can work really well when it revolves around ideas of embodiment, such as hands/feet, ears, nipples, or the sounds and smells of the human body, but when you get into issues of race and ethnicity it gets really tricky since most of the features that are fetishized are born out of racist assumptions (e.g. dragon women, oversexed African bulls) that when reproduced become offensive, ridiculous or both.

  • “Any wild guesses as to what Alejandro gives Cooper for Christmas?”
    *
    Umm, a rim job? You said not kinky so I’m thinking not fisting. LOL Sometimes short and sweet and enjoyable is what I need. I’ll definitely keep it in mind.

  • Leslie
    I read this one and agree with the review but I probably liked it a little more since I read it around Christmas – cue the mood music. 🙂 I did like the characters and thought the romance was kind of sweet, plus I hadn’t read a book with Park Rangers lately so that was different and outdoorsy. I was looking to escape the guys who live in the corporate world and this worked for me.

    • Yes, if I had read this a week before Christmas, instead of a week after, this might have worked for me a little bit more.

      Actually, for me — and this is totally personal — I live in a cold place so the idea of making love in the back of a SUV when it is -11 outside just does not inspire any sort of erotic fantasy. LOL. But I can see how for many people, they would have the opposite reaction. So… But as you said, Wave, it was a nice change to read about park rangers and the outdoors and get away from the dudes in suits and porn stars.

      L

  • I looked at this one a few times at LI trying to decide whether to get it. I’d not read anything by the author so I didn’t know whether to take the risk. After reading your review I’m still not sure as to how ‘sweet’ the story is. Is it overly sickly sweet or just nice sweet?
    *
    Sometimes I’m in the mood for something simple without any great deal of complication for a change, but I won’t want to read this if it’s too sweet.

    • I would say it is nice sweet. Cooper and Alejandro are men and they act like men and don’t get all schmoopy and gush over each other. But there is also an attraction and they realize they are falling for each other pretty fast. The writing wasn’t bad and for a short novella, he didn’t try to cram in too much backstory (as you know, one of the things that bugs me).

      L

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