Not So Silent Night
Looking for a cute, frothy and fun Christmassy love story with a grumpy/sunshine pairing, lots of humour, a gazillion pink and purple reindeer and an Avengers/Star Wars Nativity set? You are? Good! Look no further than H.L Day’s Not So Silent Night, a delightfully witty and charming romance that is just the thing for whiling away a few hours on a dark, winter evening.
Model Xander Cole never wanted to go on a ski-ing trip to the Swiss Alps – he’d rather have been on a beach in Acapulco working on his tan and drinking cocktails – and only agreed to go because he couldn’t face the amount of sulking his on/off boyfriend Harvey would have subjected him to otherwise. It turns out Xander should have stuck to his guns; an accident on the slopes sees him land in hospital with a fractured pelvis. His brother Miles escorts Xander back to England, and offers to spend Christmas with him; but Xander refuses, knowing how much Miles wants to see his kids, who live with their mother in Spain. He hasn’t seen Harvey since he made a whirlwind visit to his hospital room on the way to his next booking, so Xander is looking forward to a pretty lonely Christmas.
Ferris Night, a nurse at St. Thomas’ Hospital in London, gets back to his flat after finishing his last ever shift at St. Thomas’ (he’s moving to a new job in January) to find the place flooded as the result of a leak upstairs. His new place won’t be ready for him to move into for a few weeks, and he’s reluctant to stay with his mum, whose sleazy boyfriend has made it clear on numerous occasions that he wouldn’t mind shagging both mother AND son. Ferris resigns himself to a few nights couch-surfing with friends, not a particularly enticing prospect so close to Christmas. But then a phone call from a friend of a friend of a friend (etc.) offers a solution to his problem – this friend urgently needs a live-in nurse for his brother, who has fractured his pelvis. Ferris is surprised when he meets Miles – he’d expected someone a lot older – and more surprised when he learns Xander is something of a celebrity. Not that it bothers him. It’s a job and, more importantly, a roof over his head.
That’s the set up for this thoroughly entertaining and sometimes laugh-out-loud romance – and while it’s certainly nothing I haven’t read before, the author has a wonderfully deft touch with the characters and the humour, and it was exactly what I needed at the end of a hectic day. Ferris is almost relentlessly cheerful as he ‘bullies’ Xander into doing his physical therapy exercises, and quickly realises that winding him up is the best way to pull Xander out the funk of grumpiness he’s fallen into. I loved watching him catching Xander off-guard and plotting ways to startle and cajole him into laughter or enjoyment; the author keeps him just the right side of irritating, because it’s so obvious that Xander really needs someone to remind him that he’s allowed to be himself, that he doesn’t have to be perfect all the time – and that ‘himself’ is worthy of being loved.
The scenes where Xander realises Ferris is decorating-by-stealth for Christmas are a hoot, and while the teasing and snarky banter between the couple is terrific, the quieter moment of tenderness, affection and insight are really well-done, too. Even though the story takes place over just a couple of weeks, the fact that the two men spend pretty much every waking moment together throughout that time helps make their falling in love so quickly that much more believable. There’s very little conflict – and what there is, is visible a mile off – but it doesn’t drag on too long and gives both characters the chance to realise just how strong their feelings for one another have become.
Not So Silent Night is cute, light-hearted and fun from start to finish, one of those books that will make you giggle and leave you with a smile on your face. The characters are likeable, the dialogue is clever and genuinely funny, and there’s plenty of festive spirit to warm the cockles! If you’re a fan of Lily Morton’s books, I think you’ll enjoy this – as will anyone looking for a sweet but sexy story full of Christmas cheer.
Note: This is an expanded/extended version of the novella of the same name that was originally published as part of the Winter Wonderland giveaway at the beginning of 2021.