Sunday, December 21, 2014

An Angel in Eyeliner by Hunter Frost

Title: An Angel in Eyeliner
Author: Hunter Frost
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Cover Artist:  C.M. Walker
Genre:  holiday, contemporary
Length:  10k
Formats:  MOBI, ePub

All Mitch wants for Christmas is a quiet holiday free from grief. Patching up the target of a mugging in the back alley of his bar seems to throw that wish right out into the cold Chicago night. But the tatted, pierced, and skinny-jean wearing Keller Graham is fearless and proves to be more than a pair of icy blue eyes lined in black. Keller may be a thief, but Mitch never expected him to steal his lonely heart.
 Holiday insta-love, both charming and a bit far fetched. Mitch, former military medic turned barkeeper, rescues Keller from some toughs trying to rob him, and they end up spending what would be their lonely and grim Christmases together. Keller’s banter is witty, the kind that keeps the world at bay until he chooses to let someone in. Mitch is more literal. This works to his detriment toward the end of the story, where he doesn’t look past the first and obvious interpretation, and ends up eating his words.

The contrast between the gruff ex-medic and the homeless artist works to bring them together. Mitch is still living in the past though his present and future are secure, and happiness died for him when his lover was killed. Keller lives from hand to mouth but always in the present, with an eye to the future that’s going to be better than now, and he may be the happiest man Mitch ever met. Keller has a way of refocusing Mitch’s attention to the here and now.

The timeline and why Mitch has the bar didn’t make sense to me, which got in the way of the story a bit. The sex is fade to black, which is fine, almost necessary, because the word count is needed elsewhere. The story feels kind of short for all that’s been crammed into it: I could wish the author would take another 30,000 words and let this couple unfold more slowly. Mitch is smitten to the point of it feeling out of character based on everything he reveals of his past, even with an omen.

However, I don’t want to be a total Grinch about this story: it did make me smile and feel hopeful for Mitch and Keller. 3 marbles

This story is also part of the Boughs of Evergreen anthology, which is available in 2 parts (This story's in Vol 2) and also as one large volume.

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