Guest review by Orion
Review summary: A sweet, modern-day gay fairytale.
Blurb: When runaway Cal Harrison steps into a bar to escape the freezing rain, he meets Matt Kirkland, who buys him a meal and eventually takes him home for the night. But Cal’s been on hard times, and he doesn’t believe something as good as Matt could possibly happen to him. Not without setting him up for disaster. So Cal leaves—only to discover Matt’s not just a rich kid but a well-known millionaire. Soon Cal begins to question whether he should have swallowed his pride and left his difficult life behind.
Small Miracles is a contemporary romantic fantasy. If you don’t approach this novella as such, some of its more unrealistic elements may grate on you. The last sentence of the blurb gives the impression that the main character, Cal, is an opportunist, but he isn’t. He is a sympathetic 22-year-old man who has been struggling to survive on the streets after fleeing an abusive home environment. His life as a homeless person is rendered with quick, vivid realism, and I found myself instantly pulling for him. Upon spotting him across the floor of a bar, millionaire Matt Kirkland is instantly smitten. Matt convinces Cal to come home with him, and after a long, hot shower, Cal finds himself in bed with Matt. The two of them enjoy a bout of steamy, mutually passionate sex. The next morning, Matt reveals that he brought Cal home not out of compassion, but because the moment he laid eyes on the young man, he knew he had found his soulmate.
Matt wants to take care of Cal completely and provide for his every need. If Cal were the golddigger implied in the blurb, he would have eagerly accepted and taken full advantage of Matt’s generosity, but he has a great deal of pride and actually just wants a chance to pull himself up by the proverbial bootstraps. He also has a lot of fear and doubt about becoming involved with Matt, which creates the conflict that threatens to keep them apart.
There’s no way a rich, handsome, famous businessman would be attracted to a filthy, underweight, homeless stranger, let alone take said stranger to his house to spend the night. That thought kept popping into my head during the first few pages I read. And the part where Matt declares that Cal became his soulmate on sight struck me as pure insta-love. Once I reminded myself that this is a “Cinderfella” story, however, I began to enjoy the novella more fully.
And there is a lot to enjoy here. Overall, the story is quite touching. The writing is very good. I particularly liked the way Ms. Holiday conveys Cal’s thoughts, giving us a very touching and effective depiction of what it must feel like to be homeless. There are points in the story where Cal encounters people more fortunate than him on the streets, and their reaction upon seeing him is described in heartbreaking fashion. Even more heartbreaking is the way Ms. Holiday describes Cal’s reaction.
I liked all of the characters, even the minor ones. And while I rooted for Cal and Matt throughout, I must confess that I wish the author had more fully developed them and their story. The novella is not quite long enough, in my opinion. While it provides the traditional fairytale “and they lived happily ever after” ending, I would have liked to see more pages devoted to what happened between Cal and Matt as their relationship continued to develop. Nevertheless, Ellen Holiday has provided a charmingly entertaining read here.