Monday, 25 September 2017

Review: Yuletide Truce by Sandra Schwab

3 stars
I received an ARC of this book from the A Novel Take PR (on behalf of the author) in exchange for an honest review. My opinion is my own.

Yuletide Truce was a short and sweet m/m Christmas novella. As always, Schwab builds an excellent sense of time and place, but I wish that the romance had been a little bit more drawn out.

Bookseller Alan "Aigee" Garmond loves the Christmas season, but Christopher Foreman's scathing comments in About Town magazine about Aigee's humble book reviews are putting a damper on his mood. Foreman's antipathy upsets Aigee, but, when an incident occurs that strips both men of their defences, it provides an opportunity for the two men to call a Christmas truce, one that has the possibility to turn into something more.

Schwab is extremely talented at breathing life into the everyday world of her characters. Here, that's the Victorian middle-classes, and there were lots of small moments that brought me unexpected enjoyment: Aigee's reminiscences of his life as an apprentice, the descriptions of illustrations from an English translation of the Brothers Grimm, and a reference to the knocker-upper. 

An awareness of class underlies the whole novella, as Aigee doesn't feel completely at home in either the bourgeoisie literary world in which he works, or the world of the rookery where he grew up. 

While this sense of being caught between two worlds was poignant, I felt as though it was undermined by the lack of conflict in the men's developing romance. Despite the enemies-to-lovers trope, after the men's initial on-page meeting, there was very little tension between the characters, or resistance to a relationship. It all came a bit too easy, with almost no groveling on Foreman's part, or grudge-holding on Aigee's. 

That said, the lack of angst means that it fills a certain niche within the genre: everyone needs an easy, feel-good romance at times - particularly at Christmas, when many people are dealing with conflict-heavy or fraught family situations - and Yuletide Truce fills that need perfectly. 

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