Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a contemporary M/M holiday romance from V.L. Locey. THE CHRISTMAS TENOR is the third book in her Laurel Holidays series, but reads fine as a standalone.
A trip that he thought would bring him only pain is about to present him with the greatest gift of all.
For three years now, Cabriolet Vermat has put off, wiggled out of, and outright lied to get out of making this dreaded trip east. The owner of Cabriolet Chauffeur Services in Los Angeles has avoided the yearly invitation to the small town of White Bridge, New York, to speak at their alumni winter gathering but this year they’ve outfoxed him. They’re throwing a dinner to honor his late partner’s dedication to his alma mater and have asked Cab to speak. This time he has to go no matter how much pain it will stir up. Arriving in the picturesque small town beside one of the Finger Lakes, Cab is treated to a special performance of holiday songs and there he sees Julian Gabriel Baez for the first time.
The young singer captivates him immediately, and he finds himself seeking out the much younger man after the performance. The pull he feels toward Jules is unlike anything he’s felt since he met his partner years ago. Confusion and desire war within him, but the outgoing young tenor wins him over with his engaging smile and kind heart. A two-day trip soon turns into an extended holiday vacation. Cab worries that the magic of Christmas will quickly fizzle out and he’ll be alone once more. Or will this festive season bestow a blessing of the heart upon a man who thought he would never love again?
The Christmas Tenor is a standalone small-town gay Christmas romance with a beautiful May-December relationship, a lonely widower, a rising opera star, loving families, and plenty of holiday joy.
Cabriolet Vermat is an out-gay widower in his 50s. He’s built a very successful and lucrative business, and that’s pretty much all he manages these days, still mired in grief from the loss of his beloved husband, Carter, who was a successful film director. Carter was the pride of his alma mater, the Morton School, in upstate New York. Cab has continued to donate to the school in Carter’s honor, and this year they have decided to host a special holiday dinner in tribute to Carter, asking Cab to give a speech. He can’t weasel of to going, so he and his twin brother–also out, but super fabulous unlike Cabriolet–Pierre, jet off to make the required appearance.
And that’s where Cab meets Julian, an amazing tenor with dozens of accolades in voice and opera competitions. Julian is young and vibrant, and fixed on Cab. He favors older men as partners, and had a huge crush on Carter, as an artistic visionary. So, these two can commiserate over Carter’s achievements, and Cab can be flattered that such a virile and nubile man finds him attractive. But, he hasn’t had any sexual contact since before Carter was diagnosed with cancer, and that was years ago. He’s not prepared for a very out, very forward, very attractive and very loving man to want a very temporary tryst with him–and he’s rather blunt about shutting Julian down. Even though his desires are stoked, he doesn’t want to sully his memories of Carter–and Pierre is absolutely beyond engraged that Cab seems to be rotting away, alive but consumed by guilt and grief. And, well, he convinces Cab that being alive is not exactly living his best life–and maybe he SHOULD take Julian up on his very enticing offer. Instead of jetting back to LA, Cab and Pierre accept the gracious invitation by Julian and his family to spend Christmas with them.
They connect in more than physical ways, as Julian is charming and elegant, and knows how to woo an older man. And, well, Cab is willing to be wooed, as long as it’s not going to mess up Julian’s life plans. This is a sweet story, though I will admit the pacing seemed slow, and Cab is a ponderous narrator, rehashing his sadness, and doubts over and over. He thinks he can make all the decisions, that he’ll help guide Julian, and he learns rather quickly that Julian’s drive isn’t only for a partner, but for his career, too. I liked how Julian stood up for himself, and took his chances, instead of waiting around. He was the opposite of Cabriolet in every way, and I wished his POV was more present. Cab waxed lyrical and long and had me wondering (like Pierre) if he’d ever get on with life.
I wished the pacing was a little faster, and I’d had less of the story told to me by Cab. It has a sweet ending, though, with Julian and Cabriolet very much happy well into the future.
About the Author:
V.L. Locey loves worn jeans, yoga, belly laughs, Dr. Who, Torchwood, walking, reading and writing lusty tales, Greek mythology, the New York Rangers, comic books, and coffee. (Not necessarily in that order.) She shares her life with her husband, her daughter, one dog, two cats, two Jersey steers and a flock of assorted domestic fowl.
When not writing lusty tales, she can be found enjoying her day with her menagerie in the rolling hills of Pennsylvania with a cup of fresh java in hand.