Title: Mr. Perfect’s Christmas
Author: Eva Clancy
Length: 12k words
Genre: m/m Contemporary Romance
Heat: 3 – Sexy & Mild
Sex Frequency: 3 – Average Story to Sex
Keywords/Tags: Short Story, Christmas, British/England, Businessmen/Office, Enemies to Lovers
Rating: Pretty Good
A Christmas gift turns enemies into lovers.
The last thing Sam Warren wants to do is go to his new employer’s Christmas party—particularly since his arch-nemesis, Nick Foster, is going to be there. Nick’s been undermining Sam with his boss, and the fact that Sam can’t help lusting after Nick only complicates the situation. But it seems the Christmas Spirit is at work. When Sam receives an unexpected gift from Nick, it makes him question his assumptions about his rival. Could it be that he’s been misinterpreting Nick’s actions all along? And is his reluctant attraction to Nick reciprocated?
Eva Clancy is a new author for me, and I felt like I was taking a chance reviewing this story, but… well, it’s the season for it and I ended up finding a story that I really enjoyed.
Sam is completely dissatisfied with his life. It’s the Christmas season and a time for looking back at the year, which leads Sam into a depression every time he thinks of it. Once on a career track rising through the London offices before being made redundant, and also losing his lover at the same time, Sam has had to move to a small town and work for a small firm and pretend to be thankful for even having a job at all. And well, it’s not that he isn’t thankful, but he can’t seem to appreciate the fortune he does have when faced with all he’s lost. On top of that, he’s found that he doesn’t actually seem to know much about his job, when faced with clients that don’t have a boatload of cash and a firm with inexhaustible resources.
Somehow, all of that might be okay without the constant reminder of Nick, the “Wonder Boy”. The man whose position Sam filled seems to be everyone’s favorite person, his coworkers, his boss, and well, he’s pretty amazing, so Sam grudgingly admits to himself. He’s handsome, nice, the clients adore him. And he could do Sam’s job better than Sam ever could, making his cocky entrance to a job he thought would be below him frighteningly embarrassing. It becomes even worse when faced with Nick, again, at the Christmas party. Is karma finally collecting it’s due for Sam’s arrogant attitude, or has his misplaced depression colored everything he sees about his new life?
What I most liked about this story was that the characters aren’t who you think they are, not only Nick. Sam’s coworkers, as well as Sam himself change over the story, all because of Nick’s influence as Sam opens up and starts to see his life in an honest way. That was done quite well, in a major part by a rather honest style of prose which shows the characters in a pretty harsh light. Not only does the character change make the story interesting, but it is a perfect compliment to a holiday story, where we want to see the good in people. The story then becomes a bit of a holiday classic, in the sense that Sam is shown his misdeeds in a harsh light, all brought on by his own influence. It is somewhat subtle, yet still the focus of the story, so it didn’t overpower it in any way and worked well.
The romance here was part of that, but came in second in my enjoyment. Much of their relationship is somewhat of an afterthought — or at least implied at the end of the story. Most of what we see is an attraction and an encounter, and are left to our own thoughts about what will happen in the future. I suppose I would have liked to see a little less than perfect Nick. Sam would have a hard time seeing that, because it takes him a while to understand that Nick isn’t the “Wonder Boy” he thought and that he might have misconstrued many things about his workplace, but I would have liked to see Nick be a bit more honest with Sam. Sam finally breaks down and admits it, and I agreed wholeheartedly, that Sam is a bit of an asshole. He whines through a lot of the story and is pretty vain and has a high opinion of himself. Much of this is a front, and like I mentioned before, a front that is shed during the length of the story, but a bit of honest from Nick instead of Nick always saying how wonderful and perfect Sam is would have made their relationship seem a little more honest.
That is really my only critique of the story however. There were a few laughs on the part of Sam’s coworkers, especially a game of Secret Santa. And I liked the story, most of all. I’ll definitely recommend it.