Book Reviews

Handmade Holidays by 'Nathan Burgoine at Dominant Trident Books

Genre Gay / Contemporary / Interracial / Romance / Holiday
Reviewed by Serena Yates on 02-December-2020

Book Blurb

At nineteen, Nick is alone for the holidays and facing reality: this is how it will be from now on. Refusing to give up completely, Nick buys a Christmas tree, and then realizes he has no ornaments. A bare tree and an empty apartment aren't a great start, but a visit from his friend Haruto is just the ticket to get him through this first, worst, Christmas. A box of candy canes and a hastily folded paper crane might not be the best ornaments, but it's a place to start.

A year later, Nick has realized he's not the only one with nowhere to go, and he hosts his first "Christmas for the Misfit Toys." Haruto brings Nick an ornament for Nick's tree, and a tradition--and a new family--is born. As years go by, Nick, Haruto, and their friends face love, betrayal, life, and death. Every ornament on Nick's tree is another year, another story, and another chance at the one thing Nick has wanted since the start: someone who'd share more than the holidays with him.

Of course, Nick might have already missed his shot at the one, and it might be too late. Still, after fifteen Christmases, Nick is ready to risk it all for the best present yet.



First edition published by NineStar Press, November 2017.


Book Review

While this is a fairly short novella, it manages to include a lot of emotion, character growth, and the span of fifteen years in two men’s lives before they manage to discover that they belong together. Going from friends to lovers is rarely this protracted or painful, and I wanted to “nudge them along” more than once. But while I could clearly see, almost from the beginning, what was what, Nick and Haruto take their sweet time figuring it all out.

The Christmas tradition Nick starts on his first holiday alone is very touching. And even though his initial friends are joined by others, the event does not take place every year because “life happens”, and Nick goes through several apartments and life changes over the years, at the core of it are always people supporting each other. Nick and Haruto exchange presents every year, and neither of them seems to notice that theirs are always the most meaningful gift exchanges. They both get involved with other men, and for fifteen years seem more like “ships passing in the night” than two men who really belong together.

I have to say that the author definitely made me suffer for “my” happy ending. Their story is told in a series of glimpses into Nick’s life, each one set at Christmas. We don’t get to see all fifteen, but the ones where crucial changes occur are definitely there. All the small emotional touches as Nick and Haruto keep dancing around each other and their feelings made for some excruciatingly painful scenes, but also some really joyful ones. Much like real life, actually.

If you like the idea of friends becoming more to each other (even if it does take them a very, very long time to get there), if you want to find out more about people making their own Christmas traditions in the absence of supportive family, and if you’re looking for a very sweet (in the end), romantic, and joyful Christmas read, then you will probably like this novella as much as I do. The ending is simply perfect and made it all worthwhile, if you ask me.





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Additional Information

Format ebook
Length Novella, 70 pages
Heat Level
Publication Date 01-December-2020
Price $1.99 ebook
Buy Link