Published by Samhain Publishing Genres: Contemporary, Gay, Holidays
Reviewed by Cassie
’Tis the season of goodwill to all men...even the one who dumped you. Riley MacDermott’s ambitions are simple. 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 herring gull. 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. So does their habitual head butting. Stan never wanted to leave the love of his life, but the pull of the woods was too strong—and Riley was firmly planted in 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 one of them can 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.
Riley MacDermott has a lot on his plate. He’s in charge of the annual Bath Christmas Market, a job with long hours and a never-ending supply of little emergencies. He has to grin and bear it, however, because he’s got to impress his boss to secure the promotion he’s been angling for. On top of his job woes, a seagull seems to have a vendetta against him. He doesn’t know one of the market stalls has been let to the very last person he would have expected.
When Riley is making the rounds of the market and sees Stanislav Dubinsky, he’s initially horrified. Five years earlier, the man had dumped him to go live in the woods. Their first few meetings don’t go too well, but then the old feelings start to resurface. When the market ends, will these two very different men learn to compromise…or will Riley get his heart broken again?
Merry Gentlemen is a sweet, emotional, yet funny holiday read. Despite Riley’s ambitious nature and his tendency to be overly concerned with appearances, I liked him a lot. He made a great narrator. He’s sometimes snarky, sometimes sensitive, but always fun to follow around. It was harder to get a handle on Stan, due to him not being the narrator, but it was obvious how much he still cared for Riley. Although their first meeting is antagonistic at best, the lingering feelings of both show at every turn. Even when Riley is saying things to push Stan away, he admits to himself how he is not over Stan . Stan is the same way, unable to hide the fact that he still cares for his ex. When they finally reconnect for real, their chemistry is explosive and their connection is deep. It’s easy to believe they were in love before, and to see how hard it was for them to let go.
There’s no big, dramatic misunderstanding or outside conflict in Merry Gentlemen, and I thought that was a good choice. Riley and Stan just wanted different things out of life, and love wasn’t enough. This time around, however, Riley begins to see that what he thought he wanted isn’t what really makes him happy. He sees his job, and the people there, through different eyes—even his coveted promotion. The journey Riley takes to find his way back to Stan is one I truly enjoyed tagging along for. At its heart, Merry Gentlemen is a simple tale of what you think you want versus what you need, and learning to tell the difference. If that makes the story sound dull, it isn’t. Merry Gentlemen is a lovely read with a hopeful, new-beginnings tone, perfect for the holidays or anytime you’re feeling down.