📖 Review: A Case for Christmas – J.A. Rock and Lisa Henry

Series: The Lords of Bucknall Club

Pages: 274
Time to read: 1h45m
Pages/hour: 157

Date read: Sat 2 Apr 2022

Rating: 🐶🐶🐶🐶

“You are a man who feels what he feels with good reason. I shall not think less of you for any expression of those feelings.”

Sherlock Holmes, but sweeter.

Okay, so I think it’s fair to say that after having read all five available books in this series, Gale is my favourite character. I love many of the others, and I’m still in awe at the way these authors write characters so well, but Gale is far and away the one I love the most.

It’s definitely not because I relate to him more than the others, no sir.

But no – I was excited to read this book and so uh *checks notes* I started reading it about forty minutes after I’d finished A Husband for Hartwell. It was definitely fun. A lot cuter than I’d expected, with Chant helping smooth over any of Gale’s rough edges, and with a mystery to boot.

Perhaps the fear of going through life unloved masked an even greater fear of going through life unseen. Draw blood with your words, and you’d have immediate proof you existed.

The mystery of mysteries

The issue is, I’m not all that interested in a mystery. Or, not right now. I’ve read plenty of m/m romance where they’re solving crimes – and mysteries do come up in other genres, too – but I was far less interested in the case than I was in seeing whether Gale and Chant would finally get together.

Of course, that’s not the mystery of the story, is it?

Still, I think the mystery subplot does help the book with its pacing. With Hartwell and Warry, there was a bit of a breakneck pace, what with them having known each other since they were children; it meant their romance still felt real, a culmination of adolescent crushes leading into something more.

Here, the mystery lets the romance breathe – and allows us to see what Gale excels at.

Either way, I didn’t work out the truth of it until it was spelt out on the page. I don’t mind. It was a nice mystery, well wrapped up to bring the story together.

Okay, so what are the good bits?

Spoilers ahead!

Honestly, Chant’s first introduction was a great scene – just asking Gale to dance without preamble. It’s enough to get Gale off-kilter, in a good way, and sets the tone for the rest of their relationship.

I also loved any scene with Gale’s family, particularly his mother. Again, it’s nice to read about some interesting female characters in this genre (it can be a minefield) and Gale’s mother seems like she’s lived one hell of a life. Plus, her love and compassion for Gale are a soothing contrast to some of the parental reactions seen in the first book.

He sighed and gently drew his hands away. “He said wed, Mother.”

“He did.”

“Why would he say such a thing?”

“I’m no investigator, but perhaps because he wishes to wed you.”

The scene when Gale and Chant first go looking for a child who turns out to be Elise results in this fun bit of dialogue that I think was used in some promos (and I see why, because it’s hilarious):

“Elise,” he called softly. “Elise, come out, wherever you are hiding. We know you’re here.”

“I have no wish to offend,” Chant whispered. “But you sound rather like an axe-wielding madman indulging in a game of cat and mouse with his prey.”

And, of course, we get introduced to some fun characters for later books. Lord Soulden shows up to give Gale information – and save the day – and we hear about some kind of scandal involving Morgan, Warry’s cousin.

And finally…

Gonna give this one four cute puppies: 🐶🐶🐶🐶

This is such a soft story, I think, even though it’s got a mystery and murder and people getting injured. It’s just, Gale and Chant’s romance, even when it’s sexual, has that quiet edge to it that’s just lovely. The only reason I didn’t give it five puppies was because, although I think the mystery paces the plot well and is definitely interested, I wasn’t that interested in it; I was too busy reading to make sure Gale and Chant would definitely get together!

“Listen to me. Sometimes bad things happen, horrible things. And they make us feel so small, like we have no control over anything in the world. And so we give ourselves control by imagining we’re the villain, the one who brought about these horrible things. We give ourselves that power, thinking it will make us feel safer, but all it really does is give us permission to eat away at ourselves with blame.”

Fancy giving it a read?

Check it out on Goodreads.

Find it on Amazon (UK).

Find it on Amazon (US).

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