Glitter on the Garland and Sparkle to the Season by Helen Juliet
If I had to choose only one book for the Christmases to come, it would be Helen Juliet’s Christmas series. I think it may be a bit confusing that in the title I said “one book” and I picked two, but it’s because the second book (Sparkle to the Season) is much more like an epilogue to the first volume than anything more complex. I will explain later what I mean by that, but at first let’s check the novels. You will encounter spoilers from now on so proceed with caution.
Glitter on the Garland
My rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Short description of the story:
The setting of the story isn’t anything groundbreaking, it starts with a family broken apart by divorce, the father leaving his wife for an other woman, leaving his two kids behind for his new family. The kids, the seventeen years old Matt and his fourteen years old sister stay with their mother who’s broken and intimidated, lost the faith in herself all due to the divorce.
To make matters worse, Matt and Tilly have to spend one day of Christmas with their father and step-family because of the shared custody. Neither Matt nor Tilly want to go and leave their mother alone for the day, but they don’t have a choice. Here enters Matt’s best friend Aedan who ran away from his abusive uncle and relatives wanting to “beat the gay out of Aedan”. So the boy escapes to his best friend’s home, where he asks if he could send the Holidays with them and accompany Matt and Tilly when they visit their father.
And through the interaction of the two boys we got to know a step-family from Hell. The father, Brian is completely oblivious of the evil deeds and behavior of his new wife towards his children. He also doesn’t care when his step-daughter speaks venom to Matt and Tilly. He’s a weak and despicable personality. But his and Shiela’s (the new wife) behavior makes Matt realize his feelings for Aedan, and helps him find the courage to confess his love.
Why I love this book:
I really could relate and connect with Matt. There were abusive persons in my life to get a first hand experience of cruel words and acts all made acceptable by the notion of ‘family’. So I could really feel Matt and Tilly’s hurt, their pain seeing their family being throne apart and they being replaced by a new wife and children, and their father tries to dismiss this hurt feeling with expensive and impersonal Christmas gifts.
But Matt and Tilly’s hurt is aimed at their father and Shiela and they never speak evil or hurt Shiela’s twin sons, they are sweet little imps loving Matt and Tilly, too little to understand what the adults did to their original families (Shiela’s first husband didn’t fare any better than Matt’s mom).
But aside the heartaches caused by family members who never ever should have hurt their kids and spouses, Matt’s and Aedan’s romance is sweet and slow burning. When we got the first glimpse on Aedan we know he’s hopelessly in love with Matt, but he just doesn’t dare to say anything not wanting to ruin their friendship. It’s up to Matt to make the decision for the both of them and persuading Aedan that he really want to give a go to the next level of their relationship.
One thing I did not like:
The redemption ark of the father. I understand that it’s a Christmas story, and the Holidays are all about magic and new beginnings, but after everything Brian lets Shiela do to his children (make Tilly cry, blackmailing Matt resulting in him almost losing Aedan), he deserved to be despised by Matt and Tilly. Their anger against their father was rightful, because only a “sorry” from him doesn’t make things right. I am not saying the teens should hate their father, but some distance and silence treatment would’ve been a fair punishment regardless of the Holidays.
“I don’t want you looking at me with pity,” he whispered, his jaw tightening.
“It’s not fucking pity,” Matt growled, and he slipped his arms around Aedan’s back, pulling him down again carefully. “It’s anger. If you’re mine now, then I’m never letting anybody fucking hurt you again. I swear.”
“How very caveman of you,” Aedan joked, but his voice hiccupped halfway though, and Matt just cuddled him close for a minute. “Thank you, babe.”
Matt didn’t say anything, he just kissed Aedan’s neck, and ran his fingers through his hair. It had lost a lot of its product now, and was lovely and soft to the touch.
“I have no idea what I’m doing,” he admitted. Aedan laughed, breaking the serious mood and getting them right back to the good stuff.
“You’re doing fine,” Aedan promised, moving his hands down to tackle Matt’s shirt. “But I want less of this.”
The effect of him saying ‘I want’ pressed several of Matt’s buttons at once. What Aedan wanted, he could have.
Sparkle to the Season
My rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Short description of the story:
It’s a really short story complementing the original volume, this is why I said I consider it as an epilogue taking place years after the Christmas when Matt and Aedan got together. (Even the book covers too are identical accentuating this feeling.) They’re now living in London and Aedan wants to prepare a wonderful Christmas for the both of them, the best possible holiday. But he soon has to face the flaws of his plans, and he will soon learn that the “Perfect” can come from different sources, and he finally accepts that he has that special someone who can bring that to him.
Why I like this book:
It was cute and sweet even when we see Aedan fretting over not-so-important things when preparing the Christmas evening and the presents. And the promise of happily-ever-after is just heartwarming.
This is a really really short novella, so there’s no quote from this one. Sorry. But I hope the long one above makes it up to the lack of excerpt from Sparkle to the Season.
I hope you liked my reviews of these two books and give them a try. I got definite re-reads with this two.
- Source of book covers: Goodreads
- Source of cover image: unsplash.com (Sincerely Media)