A guest review by Sirius.
Summary: Hannukah brings the guys together and I really liked how it happened.
Dan accepts an interesting new job, only to discover after he moves that he’s the only Jewish gay man in a small Midwestern town. On the first night of Hanukkah, he’s a bit homesick and very lonely. Then the mailman delivers a box containing his menorah to the wrong house.
Chris sees that misdirected package as an excuse to knock on his attractive new neighbor’s door. He doesn’t know a thing about Judaism, but he’s willing to learn, especially if it means becoming better acquainted with Dan.
Eager for company, Dan explains the meaning of the menorah and introduces Chris to less traditional amusements like a game of strip dreidel. Soon they are celebrating long into the nights with sweet, sexy fun. As Dan and Chris light a new flame each night, what started as a playful fling deepens into passion that promises to outlast the eight days of the holiday.
I do not think I like overly sweet Holiday stories (be it Christmas, Hanukkah, or any other holiday), but you know how it is when you have not read a good story with the certain theme for a while and you start craving it? I do not remember reading many great Hanukkah stories last year (one or two maybe) and after not having much luck this year either I really wanted to read a good one and if it was going to be extra sweet, I really did not care. So Wave suggested this one and realizing that this author wrote a great novel “Boys and bees”, I snatched this novella.
I am glad I did. This one definitely qualifies as a very light holiday romance in my opinion, but it was such a lovely written, well researched light holiday fare that I was a happy camper. The author celebrates Hanukkah (I went to look at her blog), so I am not sure if her getting the details of the holiday correctly qualifies as research or personal knowledge :), but I appreciated it regardless.
The story is simple and the blurb pretty much tells it, but if you are looking for holiday romances, it is still very much worth reading. I think I really liked the restraint her writing showed. I mean, yes, there is in your face parallel between Hanukkah miracle and miracle of the sorts (or mistake :)) that brought the guys together, but the development of the relationship did not feel to me too fast or over the top.
Because the author chose to show the guys getting together every night of the Hanukkah, for me it created the illusion that time slowed down and they had more time getting to know each other than what they really had. I appreciated that, I also appreciated that after Holiday week there was no declarations of ever lasting love and while both were eager to continue getting to know each other, there was an acknowledgement that the thing between them may or may not last. I am of two minds about epilogue though – I would argue that it still was not over the top, but I could have done without it.
Both Dan and Chris were such likeable characters and somehow I still could believe that they behaved believably enough as real people would. And Chris even in Dan’s eyes was not “conventionally handsome” – that tells me that he was not extra super gorgeous, I always appreciate it when romance book shows people who are less than gorgeous :).
Strangely enough I found myself being able to relate really well to Dan as to what being Jewish meant to him. Dan is not observant and neither am I, but he always loved the holidays and when he feels that he is the only Jewish man around, he wants to do stuff for Hanukkah even more. I really liked how the author managed to portray somebody who felt more than two dimensional character in a relatively short page count. Chris wanting to keep company with attractive neighbor grows into something more and I was surprised how gentle and kind this man was and still did not feel perfect to me. I guess the writing convinced me that these two may have had a future even though in a similar set up I may have end up rolling my eyes at a fast development of the relationship.
Hanukkah may be a minor holiday in a Jewish tradition, but it will always hold a special place in my heart, because I loved learning the historical meaning behind it and I remember the times I did it so well. I guess I have some sentimental attachment to it and I thought the story portrayed it well.