The hockey has-been, the barista, and some holiday magic…
Cut from the team, fired my agent…now what?
This can’t be it for me. Unfortunately, the phone isn’t ringing. My best bet is to head home for the holidays and regroup.
Problem: I don’t know what to do with myself. Helping out at the rink might be my ticket out of here, but nothing is happening fast enough. And then there’s Ivan. No, no, it’s not what you think. We went to school together. We’re acquaintance-friends…nothing more.
But you know, I like him. A lot. He’s funny and relentlessly upbeat. I’m a better person when I’m with him—the kind who volunteers to deck the halls and wrap garland on lampposts and—
Whoa. What’s happening here?
I love the holidays! But running the coffee shop on my own during the busiest season of the year is going to be a challenge. And the sudden appearance of my former crush is all kinds of distracting.
See, I spent my formative years mooning over Court Henderson, our high school’s hockey phenom, even though he was out of my league. Thankfully, I grew up and left the silly remnants of my youth behind. Or did I?
Grown-up Court is full of surprises, and under his gruff yet extremely fine exterior, he’s a good soul with a huge heart. He’s charming, sweet, handsome, and— Uh-oh.
My crush is back. Just in time for the holidays…
Holiday Crush is an MM bisexual, small town romance featuring a renewed ancient crush, some mistletoe latte art, and a little seasonal magic.
I couldn’t tell if I had a crush on this guy or if an epic case of blue balls was to blame. And wasn’t thirty-four too fucking old to have a crush on someone? It wouldn’t have occurred to me that it was possible to have one if Ivan hadn’t brought it up the other night or—
I set my napkin on the counter and opened it slowly and theatrically, folding one side over and meeting his gaze as if revealing a special treasure.
He played along, gasping with his hand on his heart. “OMG.”
“One for you, one for me. So I guess the real question is…what goes best with a maple cookie?”
Ivan beamed. “If you’re a tea drinker, I have a fabulous cinnamon spice blend. If you want to stick to coffee, I’d suggest a strong roast or an espresso.”
“What would you have?”
“I’ll have that,” I replied. “Or are you closed? I just noticed it’s empty, and it’s never empty in here.”
He peeked at his watch. “We’re open for five more minutes, but once the after-school rush is over, it’s pretty quiet.”
“Makes sense. So…want to eat cookies with me?”
“Well…” He made a meal of that one syllable as he nodded. “Sure. Okay. I’ll lock up, make the tea, and meet you at the table behind the register. Whatever you do, don’t sit at the window or everyone in Elmwood will see us and want to know what sort of treacherous scheme we’re planning.”
I chuckled, but hey, he wasn’t wrong.
A few minutes later, we sat across from each other like we had the other night in his kitchen, sharing tea and cookies…instead of gin and bagel sandwiches.
I gingerly cradled the oversized white mug and took a sip. “It’s good. I can’t remember the last time I drank tea. I was probably a kid, and I’m sure my mom or grandma added a ton of milk and sugar.”
“I can offer those things too, but it’s best without.” Ivan bit into a cookie and let out an orgasmic moan. “Oh my God, this cookie is pure heaven.”
He licked his fingers one by one, eyes at half-mast as he slid in his chair. Shit. And now I had a boner. I swallowed hard as I snapped the stem off the leaf-shaped cookie and popped it into my mouth.
There was a reason maple cookies were the bakery’s bestseller. They were fucking amazing. Crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside, and the light drizzle of icing added an extra punch of maple flavor. They should have been too sweet, but somehow, they were perfect.
Ivan obviously agreed. He hummed with pleasure as he took another bite.
“You need to stop having sex with that cookie. Or get a room, for fuck’s sake,” I grumbled.
I’ve loved the Elmwood series and was excited to read this Christmas entry. It did not disappoint.
We know Ivan the coffee shop owner from the previous two books. His amazing coffee and questionable latte art added a little something to each story. Now the goth kid turned still goth but adult business owner, finds the guy he crushed on for 10 years is home. But goth kid plus jock kid didn’t equal hanging in the same circles then, so he didn’t expect much now.
Here’s something I loved about this book. Court was a professional hockey player. NHL? Nope. AHL? Also a no. Court is in the minors. The kind of minors where most of the players have a second job. But Court finds himself with no job when he is cut from the team.
Court thought he would get his game back on track while home, but he learns that playing pro hockey isn’t all that life is. Especially when he only has a year or two left in him. Plus there’s his family and this goth guy…
Court and Ivan were great together. Both opposites in the jock/goth sense but both out and proud, loyal and with a history in Elmwood. They move together as a couple effortlessly even without knowing if they will continue because of Court and hockey.
Court went from angry and rudderless to happy and grounded while Ivan went from stuck on what to do professionally to moving forward and growing in ways he didn’t expect. With them supporting each other.
So yep, another Elmwood win
4 pieces of eye candy
Lane Hayes loves a good romance! An avid reader from an early age, she has always been drawn to well-told love story with beautifully written characters. She loves wine, chocolate and travel (in no particular order). Lane lives in Southern California with her amazing husband and her fabulous pup, George.
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