Sub-genre: Contemporary, Holiday
’Tis the season of goodwill to all men… even the one who dumped you.
Riley MacDermott is going places. Managing the annual Bath Christmas Market—which involves long hours in the cold and a whole lot of hassle—will secure the promotion he needs to afford to move out of his noisy, top-floor flat. Where not even his balcony is safe from an aggressive seagull.
The last stallholder he expects to see is his ex. Riley never recovered from their break up, and five years on the old chemistry still sparkles. Shame they can’t seem to manage a simple chat without arguing.
Stan never wanted to leave the love of his life, but the pull of the woods was too strong—and Riley wouldn’t hear of leaving the city. Reconnecting is painful, but Stan still jumps at the chance to stay with his old flame during the Market. And damn the consequences.
As the weeks pass, the two grow closer than ever. But despite scorching sex and cozy intimacy, they both know they face a cold and lonely future. Unless they can figure out a compromise.
Warning: Contains sex in a shed, a seagull with a grudge, glamping, awful Secret Santa underwear, misuse of an ABBA song, and as many wood-related puns as the author thought she could get away with.
The picture the author paints of the setting is full of atmosphere and drew me into this story immediately. I’ve always loved stories set in the UK so the Brit Speak throughout this story made me happy. I enjoying reading Riley and Stan’s story and the way their relationship took two steps forward and one back. I appreciated that they have a long history, and that their story spans years although we only get to see them in present day and snippets of what has happened between them previously. I liked that Riley was self-aware of how horrible he’d been to Stan, but that he couldn’t stop himself. I prefer reading about flawed characters, and his insecurities is part of what makes him a likeable character, although he does come across as too sure of himself in places too. I thought the author did a good job in making him human, and I felt sorry for Stan on several occasions as it’s obvious he’s still smitten with Riley, despite how he’s been treated.
I loved Riley’s ongoing issues with the seagull. It provided a lovely bit of side humour into the story. The pinstriped suit, gay Santa, and Doctor Who references made me smile. I also liked the side characters, in particular Janine and her interaction with Riley. The ending was satisfying, and I liked that the epilogue gave a glimpse of the characters a few months later.
This story was an enjoyable read, and hit the spot nicely as a light Christmas themed story although I think it can be read and enjoyed at any time of the year.
I’d recommend Merry Gentlemen to readers who enjoy a light British Christmas story with very human, flawed, characters, dry humour, and a very satisfying ending. 4 out of 5 stars.