Title: Reindeer Games (Ace’s Wild #6)
Author: N.R. Walker
Release Date: October 29, 2019
Genre(s): Contemporary Romance
Page Count: 42,000 words
Reviewed by: Valerie
Heat Level: 3 flames out of 5
Rating: 3.3 stars out of 5
Reindeer Games Definition: activities to exclude outsiders
Industrial-art student Leif Caldwell and his best friend win tickets to the hottest party in town, the annual masquerade Christmas gala at the upmarket nightclub, Evoque. Not a gig they could ever afford to attend or buy costumes for, so Leif makes their masks. Given the holiday theme and the play on words, he makes a set of striking reindeer antlers and intends to have the night of his life.
Vintage Ridge’s resident millionaire and owner of Evoque, Russ Quarrington, hates the holiday season because it reminds him of everything he’s lost. All the money and success in the world can’t fill the void in his heart, and this year he’s particularly bereft. With the gala looming, his personal assistant insists Russ attends and that he wear a mask that offers anonymity, and hopefully find some festive cheer. Bored with the guys in town and tired of men only wanting him for his money, he reluctantly agrees.
But when Russ sees a mysterious man with a magnificent reindeer antlers and mask, he’s instantly intrigued. Even when their masks are removed, Leif has no idea who Russ really is, and what Russ discovers is a man who understands him. And for the first time ever, a man who doesn’t want what Russ has. This time, it’s Russ who wants what Leif has, what money can’t buy.
Russ and Leif are about to learn that sometimes Reindeer Games are the only games worth playing.
N.R. Walker is one of my favorite authors; in fact, I have several of her books on what I call my elite shelf which equals about 2% of the more than 1,200 MM Romances I have read. It therefore makes me sad to say that Reindeer Games falls a bit flat for me. It’s a pleasant novella that provides a sweet, quick holiday read. No angst here, but not much of a plot, either. Just a basic story of opposites meeting and falling in love over the course of a few weeks. They do have chemistry, but nothing in this book is deep.
The blurb sums up the book well so I won’t rehash. The theme of this book is loneliness. Russ, one of our two main characters, is an isolated, lonely man, particularly around the holidays, and Leif is the man who fills that void. But for such a deep loneliness that pervades the character, the author only used three sentences to explain Russ’ past and the cause of his misery. I’d like to say that such brevity is a natural pitfall of short stories, and it can be, but there certainly could and should have been more attention given to this topic which would have built a more three-dimensional character.
That said, while it didn’t quite hit the mark for me, I would recommend this book for readers seeking an easy, light holiday read with a pleasant HEA. N.R. Walker delivers that in a package impeccably edited and well-written as always.