Title: Turkey in the Snow
Author: Amy Lane
Cover Artist: Catt Ford
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: M/M Contemporary Romance, Evergreen Anthology 2012, holiday.
Length: 102 pages / Novella
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 rating stars
A guest review by Raine
Summary Review: A light family holiday story with perhaps an appropriate motif about not judging by appearances, written with a wryly accurate and fun touch.
Blurb: Since Hank Calder’s four-year-old niece, Josie, came to live with him, his life has been plenty dramatic, thank you, and the last thing he needs is a swishy, flaming twinkie to complicate things. But when Justin, the daycare worker at his gym, offers to do something incredibly nice for Hank—and for Josie—Hank is forced to reconsider. Justin may be flamboyant in his speech and gestures, but his heart and kindness are as rock steady and dependable as anyone, even Hank, could ask for. Can Hank trust in his dramatic “turkey in the snow” to offer his heart the joy he and Josie have never known?
I have never hidden that I don’t find holiday stories very appealing, the contrived sweetness usually irritates my over sensitive and probably slowly toxic amalgam fillings…..British teeth of a certain age. However Amy Lane was clearly put on the earth to mess about with my stuffy preconceptions and widen my horizons. Christmas with Danny Fit has always been one of my exceptions to holiday disdain and now she has done it again. Turkey in the Snow gave me a nice seasonal glow of warmth with no additional irritated jaw clenching.
One of the side effects of this story was that the first few chapters confirmed my preconceptions that little girls are much harder work than little boys. I really felt for Hank as he patiently struggled with Josie. However I found her spikes of irritability and moodiness worked well to lighten any cuteness overload. Hank’s frantic need to achieve his work out and it’s resultant calm reminded me of a friend who used to hide in her locked bathroom desperate to read and achieve a few minutes of nirvana away from the demands of her family. There was a freshness and honesty in the book about the way children can reduce adults to tears.
I found both main characters appealing. Hank’s rather gruff and practical wariness about life – defined by his seasonal turkey metaphor – made complete sense given his family history. Amy Lane builds back story so neatly into the current events. His sister’s un reliability felt realistic, she was a believable, fallible character who naturally brought tension into the story. Our ingenue Justin was delightful. His coming out story gave me a quiet giggle. All the ‘ getting to know you ‘ incidents were gently enjoyable. His sunshine personality worked very well as the spark of change that got the party started.. then balanced out in combination with Hank to make the rather sudden possibilities for the future credible.
There was a lot packed into this little story; familiar themes about different types of family, thoughts about not judging by appearances and seizing the day, but it never felt rushed or contrived.
A quality, light hearted but life honest holiday read that I will return to after the tinsel is back in the box. I must say this book’s cover is one of the most restrained for this genre I have ever seen – no pretty boys any where, just the rather handsome but lonely turkey! I am now going to have a large drink and start another book by Amy Lane – Rushes; a bird of very different feathers.