“Hey, Mr Kenney. I need to know where to get a man for Daddy for Christmas.”
In a word: Read the thing. This one is kinda like a Lifetime Christmas movie: fluffy, sappy, and heartwarming (only with sex you wouldn’t find in a Lifetime Christmas movie), though I kinda expected that. What I wasn’t expecting was how funny it was. Seriously, without Maya this story would just be run of the mill Christmas fluff. Maya makes things a lot more entertaining. The romance kinda fell into the insta-love territory, so I wasn’t really a big fan of that, though Ben and Jason’s interactions before they were officially together were pretty good. It’s really Maya’s character that’s the main draw for me, though. If you aren’t a fan of child characters, even when they aren’t being overly precious and annoying, then you probably won’t like most of A Christmas Boyfriend. It’s a feel-good romance story with very, very minimal angst and no conflict and lots of laughs. Our two leads are pretty standard, but they’re cute together and their no-obstacles relationship makes for a relaxing read. Also it’s a short book so it also makes for a quick read.
THIS POST CONTAINS SPOILERS
The Couple: Ben Owens is a health-obsessed single father. It’s been a bit quiet on the romance front so when his sister asks him about Christmas gift ideas, he jokingly tells her that he wants a man. This is where substitute teacher Jason Kenney comes in. Jason is currently doing a job at a daycare where Ben’s daughter, Maya, is a student. Jason is a bit sad this holiday season because he’s just been dumped by his (possibly long-term?) boyfriend, who seems to have replaced him fairly quickly. Jason’s a complete pushover, which is how he finds himself agreeing (eventually) to be Ben’s Christmas present. Ben and Jason are pretty one-note characters, and the story (possibly because of its length, it’s only marked as 95 pages) doesn’t really flesh them out much. They’re likeable guys though. Ben’s a bit of an overprotective father/health nut, and Jason’s an eager-to-please substitute teacher with a bit of a self-deprecating streak (though that last one might be due to his recent breakup). They’re both good-looking guys though and, if not for a minor misunderstanding, would probably have gotten together a lot sooner than they did. They’re attracted to each other pretty much right from the off, but it still takes a push from Maya to get them moving. And then when they finally do get moving they go from 0 to 60, falling for each other fast and hard. There’s an insta-love tag on this post because that’s pretty much what happens. They’re together for only a week or two at the most and they’re already thinking about love and forever (they don’t say it out loud though). It didn’t really put me off too much here because it really did fit with the Lifetime Christmas movie feel of the whole thing, so I was sort of expecting it. Ben and Jason’s romance is a really uncomplicated one with zero conflict (the ex-boyfriend doesn’t even show up to cause any trouble) and pretty much zero drama (the misunderstanding is kinda petty and easily resolved).
The Kid: Ben’s kid is easily the best part of this book. Maya Owens is four years old and a very well-written child character. Ben is her only parent (it doesn’t say but I’m pretty sure he had her through a surrogate, it does imply that he was single at the time) and she loves him so much. She just wants him to be happy, so when she overhears him telling her aunt about wanting a man for Christmas, she decides that that’s what she’s going to get him. Of course, Maya has absolutely no idea where one goes about getting someone a man, and that’s where Mr. Kenney comes in. I just love Maya’s character and the way she’s written. She’s not overly precious or wise or all-knowing, or even overly sweet. She’s just a four-year-old trying to get her Daddy the best Christmas present ever. I also love her logic here: she doesn’t know where to get a man, and she can’t ask her father because it’ll ruin the surprise, so she’ll ask her teacher; he’s a teacher, surely he knows things. She even flubs the description Ben jokingly mentioned, but in a funny way that actually makes sense considering her age and the fact that she wouldn’t have a frame of reference for any of it. All her interactions with Jason are pretty funny; their dialogue is hilarious. A funny moment of note: when she tries to set Ben up with her 60-year-old principal because, hey, he’s a man. It’s also funny that she even has a bow prepared for when Jason finally gives in and agrees to be Ben’s present. There’s really nothing special about Maya, she comes across as a normal four-year-old on a mission, it’s just that she’s really well-written. Though if you don’t like child characters or reading about children, no matter how well-written they are, Maya probably won’t change your mind.
The Side Characters: There aren’t very many side characters. It’s a pretty contained story so there really aren’t any other characters there unless the main characters are interacting with them directly. The most prominent ones are Carly, Ben’s younger sister who initially sets everything off by asking about Christmas gifts; and Alfie, Jason’s dog that Maya practically adopts when she first meets him (kid loves the dog, Ben loves Jason, it’s win-win all around really). Carly and Alfie are really the only other characters who show up with any regularity. There are a few mentions of other children in Maya’s daycare class, and some friends of Jason’s who set them up in the hotel for the New Year’s party at the end, and then there’s Ben’s Aunt Louise and various unnamed family members at the Christmas Eve party, but that’s really about it (which was a really nice scene to read if you’re someone who’s used to large family holiday gatherings). Jason’s ex-boyfriend is mentioned by name once or twice, but he never actually shows up. And I think that’s it, I can’t remember anyone else.
The Sex: I don’t have much to say about the sex scene. There’s just the one at the end of the book. It’s a nice resolution to the sexual tension between Ben and Jason, but nothing special.
The Writing: This one was a quick read. I spotted a few typos while I was reading, but this was self-published so that happens. Some of the dialogue between Ben and Jason was a bit ‘meh’, but any conversations involving Maya were gold. The kid is funny. I thought there would’ve been a bit of angst concerning Jason’s ex-boyfriend. Once Ben and Jason officially got together I was expecting the ex to show up and cause some problems, or at least some tension. He didn’t though, which was a nice surprise since it probably would’ve caused some unnecessary drama when the story had been complete fluff up to that point. As it is, the ex-boyfriend doesn’t show up at all, so the whole thing is just basically Christmas fluff.
[A Christmas Boyfriend was published November 28, 2015 by Trina Solet, it is available only as an ebook]