Two grumpy bears and a holiday season neither will forget…
So this sexy silver fox rolls into my small New England town and buys a run-down old house in need of renovation. That’s where I come in. My job is to do some basic repairs, so he can write in peace. Yep, the hotshot is a bestselling author, but that’s not why I recognize Cameron Warren.
No worries, I won’t let a one-night stand make things awkward. I could use the work, but is he seriously asking me to help him buy a Christmas tree too?
I’m a good-natured guy all year long, but I have to admit…I hate the holidays.
There. I said it.
This season, I’m hiding away on the opposite side of the country in a picturesque village. My family isn’t excited about my decision, and the only way to assure them I’m fine is to deck the darn halls. Or hire someone else to do it.
The handyman might not be the logical choice for an elf, but his grumpy act makes me smile. Which makes me think the holidays might not be so “bah-humbug” this year after all.
The Humbug Holiday is a bisexual, age-gap romance featuring two grumpy bears who find unexpected magic and learn to embrace everyone’s favorite time of year!
A playful smile ghosted over Cameron’s full lips. “You’re stubborn, but loyal. You’re extremely private, but I can’t tell if that’s a protective mechanism or defensive. You’re a loner.”
“Well…I think you have a bit of a God complex,” he replied carefully.
I narrowed my eyes. “Excuse me?”
“You’re a control freak. In a perfect world, you’d like to control or manage others’ expectations. You hate that you care what others think, but you do. That probably has something to do with the fact that you come from a good place and you don’t like the idea of anything tainting it. Big cities have a way of desensitizing. Trust me. I know how that goes.”
I was too taken aback by the ultra-personal read to reply immediately. Surprise gave way to righteous indignation and anger.
I glowered as I moved toward him. “What the fuck? You don’t know me or anything about my life or—”
“Hey, relax.” Cameron held his hands up in surrender. “It’s an observation, not an insult.”
“Well…don’t observe me. It’s creepy,” I growled. “Especially coming from someone who writes murder mysteries.”
A slow-moving pirate’s smile took over his face. “Fair point, but as you said, it’s my job to watch and take note of my surroundings.”
I cocked my head, studying his chiseled features and proud carriage in those designer duds. Everything about Cameron Warren screamed “special,” and I had no doubt that was the case. But I was still smarting after his astute analysis. I couldn’t help wondering how much of his dapper bear façade was for show.
“Hmm. Maybe. Or maybe you snoop to dodge your own reality.” I shrugged. “Just a thought.”
He arched a brow but didn’t speak.
Was it my imagination or was the air suddenly buzzing? My gaze darted to the darkening skies out the window, but the sizzle of electricity was all us. I couldn’t read any signs.
Were we joking? I mean, we were throwing some personal shit out there. We were both guilty of being borderline rude…and too familiar. It should have felt unsafe to have someone poke at me for a reaction, but damn it…it turned me on.
He turned me on.
Okay, I have a very soft spot for grumpy bears…my dad was one. Bah Humbug! all the way for him. But he had the softest heart buried in that grumpy face that he was so well known for. So, there was zero chance I was passing up not only a grumpy bear book, but two grumpy bears and a holiday story to boot. I was not disappointed.
I will admit, I’ve not read a lot of Lane Hayes’ books…I’ve seen the error of my ways, I promise! This book just hit me in so many good ways. These two did not love the holidays, and both with very good reasons. However, those around them did (all the older ladies who would not let them just be by themselves was so funny to me!) and so because they loved those people, they “suffered” through the holiday season, with all the gruff exterior they could muster. Until they met their match in grumpiness in the other.
Joe was hit hard in the past by a former lover/boss, as well as some nasty allegations against him, and came home to essentially lick his wounds. After being in that situation, I’m sure you would want to be somewhere where people love you, appreciate you, will leave you alone a bit, and that feels comfortable. A bit like curling up with a hot cocoa under the covers. Cameron meanwhile, needed a change of pace, a slower one in order to breathe, away from his aunts, and everyone wanting a piece of him back in California. He had his own demons to battle with regards to the holidays that had been sitting in the background for decades.
These two somehow found a way to learn to like the holidays again, through the magic of being with each other. Or at least, they probably always liked it a little, but came to realize that they did, by finding each other. It was a gradual process, but fun to see the progression.
This book wasn’t super funny, although definitely had its moments. “I picked up a red bulb and gingerly attached the hook to the tree. Okay, that wasn’t so bad.” But it just felt so good to read. Seeing these two big old grumps learning they can be happy inside, and with each other, even if they feel the need to keep up their front to the outside world for their own sanity. Until, of course, everyone just knew they truly loved the holidays. It did my heart more good than I would have ever imagined. It’s definitely on the read again list.
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. Her debut novel was a 2013 Rainbow Award finalist and subsequent books have received Honorable Mentions, and were winners in the 2016, 2017, 2018-2019, and 2020-2021 Rainbow Awards. She loves red wine, chocolate and travel (in no particular order). Lane lives in Southern California with her amazing husband in a not-quite-empty nest.
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Amazon Author Page: amazon.com/author/lanehayes