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Jack Horwood doesn’t do families. Or Christmas. From the time his mother sold him to her pimp to the moment he walked out on the man he loved, Christmas has always been about change and painful choices. This year seems no different. Helping Daniel and Nico recover from their imprisonment and hunting down those responsible puts Jack in a frame of mind he doesn’t want to inflict on anyone. Least of all Gareth and the tentative relationship they’ve started to rebuild.
But Gareth, for whom Christmas is all about new beginnings, won’t let Jack take the easy way out. He makes him face his ghosts instead. Even when said ghosts invade their bedroom.
When Daniel’s parents are found, Jack is determined to settle the matter without involving Daniel at all. But fate decrees otherwise, and it’s Gareth who helps him finally understand that the strongest bonds are those forged together. Once he gets that, Jack can step up and make a decision designed to lay his ghosts to rest—for good.
It’s holiday time and 30 year old Jack Horwood is having a sort of post-traumatic stress disorder. Christmas time is full of bad memories for him, so this year, his partner Gareth Flynn tried to life Jack’s spirits by reminding him of the good things he has in his life now. Gareth has known Jack since Jack was 17 years old and Gareth used to be his Commanding Officer. So while they have known each other for a long time, but Gareth had hard time trying to decipher Jack’s moods. Adding to Jack’s own issues, was the unease that Nico and Daniel felt with their chief victimizer still on the loose, Jack had a full plate trying to keep his past ghosts at bay.
I enjoyed the story but I had difficulty with connecting with the romantic relationship because it felt like Jack and Gareth didn’t really communicate well other than work related issues. For people who had saved each other from life and death situations, their couple vibe felt superficial. They obviously had a physical intimacy, but their emotional intimacy felt like it was held in place by other things, like a thirst for justice and advocating for the abused. I did enjoy the unraveling of the mystery surrounding Daniel’s parents. It made this story feel like an episode of Law & Order SVU. The crime solving aspect of this book overtook the romance part. Gareth and Jack did love each other, I wish I felt their passion. There were glimpses of it here and there.
“Love is something enduring that lets you deal with your past, live in the present, and look towards a future.”
But I guess Jack’s pasts still ruled him and he hadn’t laid those fears to rest enough to fully let Gareth in. Gareth deserves an award for his patience and steadfast loyalty. Jack’s mom really damaged his trust by selling him to a pimp and the hell Jack endured would be hard for anyone to overcome.
The secondary characters in this story were likeable from Gareth’s mom to Daniel and Nico. I wish I read book 1 for a better understanding of the journey Jack and Gareth took to get Daniel and Nico. I was happy with the placement of these two young boys. The writing style was easy to follow and smooth. I didn’t feel like Jack and Gareth were developed as characters in this book, but I suspect it was done in book 1. At the end of the book, I finally felt that Jack was truly letting Gareth in. It was an HEA so I felt satisfied in the end. The writing was good so I blame myself for not starting at book 1.
*Special Thanks to Dreamspinner Press for the e-arc given in exchange for an honest review.