Title: Secret Santa
Author: Jay Northcote
Publisher: Self Published
Release Date: December 24
Genre(s): Contemporary, Holiday
Page Count: ~150
Reviewed by: Kristin
Heat Level: 3 flames out of 5
Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5
Keeping secrets is never a good way to start a relationship
Theo hardly has time to date. Between work and caring for his four-year-old son there aren’t many hours left over. He’s lonely though, so he joins a hook-up app and starts chatting to a guy called Luke. Luke seems friendly and they arrange to meet. Theo doesn’t mention that he has a child. It’s early days and he’s worried about putting Luke off before they get to know each other.
Luke is currently working as Santa at the local shopping mall. He figures Theo never has to know. Christmas will be over soon and Luke will move on to a new, less embarrassing job. He’s surprised when Theo and a little boy visit Santa one afternoon. Theo doesn’t recognize Luke, and Luke realizes he’s not the only one with a secret.
Despite misgivings on both sides, they start dating, and the chemistry is amazing. But as Christmas approaches their secrets pile up like colourful packages under the tree. If they’re not careful, they’ll lose the best gift of all—each other.
Ahh…the perils of on-line dating. A recently divorced friend of mine was doing Match.com and I got to hear all about the various dates. Whoo boy… Yeah. No. Not for me, thank you very much.
So I could empathize with Theo and Luke. Especially Theo. It IS near impossible to date when you’ve got kid(s) because it IS a turn-off for so many people. I completely understand why he wasn’t mentioning his kiddo in those initial conversations and early dates. Was it “keeping a secret”? Mmmm…I would have to argue no. Seriously, why even go there if the dates don’t pan out? Why start out with “Hey! I’ve got a kid!” if the initial reaction by the other is going to be run as far and as fast as they can.
Now, with Luke finding out by accident totally set the book up for a Big Misunderstanding scenario. Which I despise with a passion and was dreading. Fortunately, the author did a fantastic job of keeping the conversation real and adroitly avoided that plot trope. Yay!
Which comes back around to the whole dating dynamic: the angst, the trepidation, the excitement and the hope. I thought the author captured all of those emotions and more.
So why only 3.5 stars? For myself, I didn’t care for all the “secret” concerns. It just rubbed me the wrong way. Nobody is going to spill the beans on first, second or even third dates. Heck, couples married for years don’t know everything about their partners. Luke and Theo also had a very physical relationship, so not a lot of heart to heart happening there.
That being said, this is a Holiday story. The characters are well thought out, the emotional see-saw of dating (with kids) was exemplary, and the author completely avoided the drama of a Big Misunderstanding and kept things real. This is a good book to unwind with curled up on the couch with a cuppa hot cocoa.