Riptide Publishing Presents http://riptidepublishing.com/titles/christmas-kitsch
Sometimes the best thing you can get for Christmas is knowing what you really want.
Rusty Baker is a blond, rich, entitled football player in a high school full of them—just the type of oblivious jock all the bullied kids hate. And he might have stayed that way, except he develops a friendship with out-and-proud Oliver Campbell from the wrong side of the tracks. Rusty thinks the friendship is just pity—Oliver is very bright, and Rusty is very not—but then Oliver kisses him goodbye when Rusty leaves for college, and Rusty is forced to rethink everything he knows about himself.
But even Rusty’s newfound awareness can’t help him survive a semester at Berkeley. He returns home for Thanksgiving break clinging to the one thing he knows to be true: Oliver Campbell is the best thing that’s ever happened to him.
Rusty’s parents disagree, and Rusty finds himself homeless for the holidays. Oliver may not have much money, but he’s got something Rusty has never known: true family. With their help and Oliver’s love, Rusty comes to realize that he may have failed college, but he’ll pass real life with flying rainbow colors.
Rusty is a good kid. He’s popular. Plays sports. Has girlfriends. Does what his parents tell him to. He’s not the “quickest” but he’s not stupid either.
Oliver is the “new brown kid”. He’s small. Snarky. Gay. And in need of a friend. Despite Rusty’s peer group’s objections, Rusty befriends Oliver and Oliver helps Rusty through his last year of high school.
When it comes time for Rusty to go to Berkley, where he just knows he’s going to fail, Oliver does all he can to assure him that he’ll be there for him and that he knows Rusty won’t get lost in the shuffle. And… he kisses Rusty.
Rusty is left at school, lost, scared, trapped with a crazy but warm-hearted-hyper-sexual-roommate, and the memory of Oliver’s kiss to make him question everything he is or wants to be.
When it becomes apparent that Rusty is in fact NOT ready for Berkley – though he tries damn hard – he is ready for Oliver and KNOWS that Oliver is more than just his best friend. When Rusty gets home for Thanksgiving Oliver is there to greet him and the two kiss again. This time they get caught by Rusty’s homophobic family who immediately throw Rusty out of the house.
Luckily Oliver’s dad is amazing and he helps Rusty to get his bearings again.
What follows is Rusty’s jump into the deep end of adulthood and his navigation of his first real relationship that also happens to be his first gay relationship. Oliver’s impatience and love both help and hinder him in this process, but the underlying support he and his dad offer Rusty give him the strength to grow into the man he needs to become.
This is another of my all-time favorite Amy Lane books. Another one I’m hoping will soon become an Audiobook. (Hint, hint!)
Rusty is so very lost but he’s also so sweet and lovable you want to reach through the pages and wrap him in blankets and kiss his cheeks.
Oliver is just smart and snarky enough to ease the saccharine sweetness of Rusty’s goodness and make them a real, fun, and sexy couple.
I loved the interactions with the secondary characters. The role model of Oliver’s dad. The hilarity of the cousins. The hero-worship of Rusty’s sister. And the eventual grace of Rusty’s parents.
I read this book when I need a warm hug on a rainy afternoon and it always makes me feel better.
I can’t recommend it enough.
6 of 5 hearts