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.
To start with, this was much shorter than both the first and the third book, so I knew that there probably wouldn’t be as much going on.
The focus of the book was on Jack and Gareth’s furthering relationship. We got to see them spend Christmas, New Year’s, and Valentine’s Day together, as well as take some very big steps in their relationship, which I loved. The book also focused on Nico and Daniel, leading to a big change in the lives of all four characters (which I won’t spoil here). I liked this because I felt like we got to really know the characters, especially since there wasn’t so much going on like in the first book. Unfortunately, this caused the story to drag a bit at times, but for the most part, it worked.
We also got to see a lot more of Gareth in this book, which I loved. We learned a bit more about his past, saw him interacting more with Nico and Daniel (which was just freaking adorable), and got to see how much he loves to cook. I constantly wanted to eat while reading this book, the food descriptions were so vivid and sounded absolutely delicious.
This book also provided closure on the prostitution case from book 1; emotional closure in the form of Nico and Daniel facing their fears and plot closure with Goran going on trial and Jack tracking down the johns.
While I like the character development in the story, I also had a lot of issues with it. First, the book didn’t touch on any of the events hinted at in the epilogue of the first book. I expected at least some mention of those events here or something to happen, but there was nothing. Second, I had an issue with the whole plotline behind Daniel’s parents being revealed. I expected this to be a big part of the story, and it didn’t deliver. The confrontation with his parents was anti-climactic, not to mention how something felt missing or unresolved. Maybe this is going to be further explored in book 3 in some way, but even that isn’t clearly addressed. There was a vague potential mystery introduced that made it seem like this would be further addressed, but I’m not sure, especially since the case was wrapped up. Third, most of the secondary characters from the first book were barely mentioned or weren’t even in the book. After getting to meet so many people who had big roles in book 1, it was a bit jarring to barely see them in the story.
All in all, while I had my issues with the book, it was still enjoyable to read. Some loose ends were tied up, some mystery was introduced, and we learned some more information about four of our main characters. If you read book 1, I would recommend reading this book, just know that it is differently paced than book 1. This was definitely a character-based story, with action and mystery taking a backseat here. Personally, I am going to read book 3, because I want to see how the rest of the loose ends from book 1 and book 2 will be addressed and how Jack and Gareth’s relationship further develops.
*I received this book in exchange for an honest review.*