I think this is my favorite in the series. I’m not sure if it’s because of life-long friends becoming lovers, the twins marrying twins aspect, or the sheer adorkableness of snarky Hollis or the unsure cockiness of Sawyer.
This one falls into the same formulaic routine as the others (not a bad thing, just an observation), but because it’s Christmas themed and the two main characters have technically known each other for decades a lot of the get-to-know-you stuff happened off the page.
It’s hard to say whether I liked Hollis or Sawyer more, I’m some sort of weird combination of the two. I’d probably say Hollis because of his reticence to interact with anyone and the fact he’s held a flame for Sawyer for so damn long. Add in his penchant for old-timey things and the fact he’s a pessimist planner and sold 😀
“I’d grown from a risk-adverse kid to a risk-abhorring adult. My business was my big risk of the decade and even then, I had made sure I had a safety net. Risk meant falling and falling meant people noticing. People laughing. People gossiping.” (Loc. 1,483)
I loved that this was a holiday romance, because between the impending holiday and the already knowing each other the romance was able to move forward pretty quickly, and ended with the most adorable Christmas morning reveal to their families.
I think I like Albert’s writing a lot more than I have most other MM Romance authors that are women. It has nothing to do with the subject and only to do with the writing. She has a way with words and even though I’m basically reading the same cookie cutter story (six of them back-to-back) I’m not exhausted or bored like I have been with almost every other romance author.
“Kissing always seemed like such a messy, intimate business, but with Sawyer it was different. His tongue was less invasion and more welcome invitation, and he seemed to know how to keep things from getting too moist and sloppy—a big bonus. Actually, Sawyer seemed to know a lot more about kissing than I, and he used that knowledge—and teeth, tongue, and lips—to tease and torture and work me up until I was rocking into his embrace.” (Loc. 435)
Albert, did make the same mistake/conscious decision again of using the “make love” trope, but of course in the moment I was like “AWWWWWWW” tear, tear, sniffle, “ohhhhhhh yeaaaaah” (imagine a deep booming voice as they moved from aww to hot and heavy.
I liked that there were more dates in this one, Sawyer was trying to help Hollis find the Christmas spirit and so they had to spend more time together and actually stayed out of the bedroom for quite a bit of the novel.
Recommendation: So far, I’d really recommend this one and Served Hot, I think they stand out above the rest for story because they’re not bogged down with too many extra details or characters. It also could be the fact these two characters knew each other previously, either way this is one I could see re-reading at some point in the future around the holidays.
Opening Line: “Don’t forget the holiday decorating contest begins next week.”
Closing Line: “Sure, my life was much louder these days—no one in the world was better at driving me crazy—but I was also filling it up with memories I wanted to keep forever. Just like Sawyer.” (Whited out to avoid spoilers, highlight to read.)
Other Books in the Portland Heat Series
Additional Quotes from Wrapped Together
“Sawyer Murphy had come late and unprepared as usual. He’d squeezed in between Mary Anne, the florist, and Ev, the yarn shop owner, balancing his coffee drink and agenda in one hand.” (Loc. 49)
“Sawyer did happy the same way a Labrador did—all smiles and wags and bouncy energy that had no idea what to do with itself.” (Loc. 201)
“And it was like kissing a memory—a soft whisper of something that had almost been.” (Loc. 354)
“‘I didn’t know you wore bow ties,’ I said as I locked my front door, really meaning I didn’t know I had a fetish for bow ties.” (Loc. 479)
“Milestones deserved recognition—and not the loud, cheering kind. I felt something tangible was increasingly important to help make sense of the chaos of hundreds of social media likes and no real sense of accomplishment on a visceral level.” (Loc. 586)
“For a brief moment I wished for one of those discerning Siamese cats who would only eat fresh food proffered at the exact right moment. No, I had the composter version that ate everything from corn to off-brand kibble with equal enthusiasm. He wouldn’t mind if I were out late, but the prospect still gave me shivers.” (Loc. 828)
“Sawyer said I couldn’t see he’d changed, couldn’t trust that, and maybe he was right. But the problem was that I hadn’t changed—the world had changed around me, Sawyer was becoming a responsible adult, Tucker and Char becoming parents, but I was still who I’d always been, and who I’d always been wasn’t enough for Sawyer, no matter how much he’d changed, no matter if he wasn’t the same guy who flitted from interest to interest. I was still me. And damned if that didn’t hurt.” (Loc. 1,448)
“Yeah, but you’re my introvert. And you’re not an asshole. See, that’s what I’ve been thinking about a lot—why you make me so crazy. And I think it’s because you’re always so . . . selective. You’re choosy about your clothes and your books and your pens and your food. And for years now, I’ve just wanted you to choose me.” (Loc. 1,554)
“I love you. I’ve loved you since the moment you plunked yourself down next to me in drama class freshman year. I loved you drunk dialing and I loved your dares. I loved you so much that I built a wall around those feelings, hoping they could hurt me, hoping I could hide them. But I love that you smashed through those walls. I love that you didn’t give up on me.” (Loc. 1,567)