Sometimes the best thing you can get for Christmas is knowing what you really want.
Rusty Baker is a blond, rich, entitled football player in a high school full of them - just the type of oblivious jock all the bullied kids hate. And he might have stayed that way except he develops a friendship with out-and-proud Oliver Campbell from the wrong side of the tracks. Rusty thinks the friendship is just pity - Oliver is very bright, and Rusty is very not - but then Oliver kisses him good-bye when Rusty leaves for college, and Rusty is forced to rethink everything he knows about himself.
But even Rusty's newfound awareness can't help him survive a semester at Berkeley. He returns home for Thanksgiving break clinging to the one thing he knows to be true: Oliver Campbell is the best thing that's ever happened to him.
Rusty's parents disagree, and Rusty finds himself homeless for the holidays. Oliver may not have much money, but he's got something Rusty has never known: true family. With their help and Oliver's love, Rusty comes to realize that he may have failed college, but he'll pass real life with flying rainbow colors.
©2013 Amy Lane (P)2015 Riptide Publishing
"5+ I-loved-every-word Stars!"
Nick J. Russo knocked this out of the park! I mean full on bases loaded, bottom of the ninth, World Series HOME RUN!
Christmas Kitsch is one of my all time favorites stories. It wormed it's way so easily into my heart that I know I am forever changed by it. I loved every word.
Yes, the characters are young, around 18, and I suppose it's technically a Young Adult/New Adult novel, but don't let that put you off! This is Amy Lane, people. This author has a knack of taking the norm and setting in on it's ear...then pouring in all the love, emotion and feels in the world.
Rusty is a sweet kid, albeit with more heart than brains, who lives in a very cookie cutter white on white world with not much affection. The story is told entirely from Rusty's first person point of view and begins with Rusty telling the reader about how he's been kicked out of his home just before Thanksgiving, but he doesn't, and couldn't, blame Oliver.
Rusty then begins his story of when Oliver, a Hispanic openly gay boy (which is a pretty big anomaly in this little white suburban town) shows up in his English Literature class their senior year of high school and of Rusty's instant fascination.
This is all about friendship, love, family, and home.
Even the at my most hard-hearted I laugh, cry, rage, and feel my little heart grow three sizes.
This is a story of two boys who fit together like pieces of a puzzle. It's about family - the one you're born into, and the one you choose. It's about growing up and finding out who you are and who you're meant to be with and all the mess that life can throw your way.
I cannot convey how much I love this story and these characters...
Nick J. Russo knocked this out of the park! I mean full on bases loaded, bottom of the ninth, World Series HOME RUN!
He made me absolutely fall in love with these characters even more than I was already, which I thought was an impossibility. But, no, Nick J. Russo did it. I love these boys so much.
If you love audio, or you love this story and want to give audio a shot, this is the one, folks. Add this to your collection, because it's the kind of perfection that doesn't come around often.
HIGHLY, HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
"One of my all time favorites from both Amy & Nick"
Rusty is a “nice boy”. Tries hard, plays football, dates girls… but he’s not the “quickest”. He can eventually figure things out – given enough time- but he takes awhile to get there.
Good manners and a fascination for the new kid – chocolate to Rusty’s vanilla – prompts Rusty to befriend snarky, openly gay, Hispanic and funny Oliver. Oliver can hold his own with Rusty’s “friends” but it’s Rusty who becomes Oliver’s best friend in the last year of high school.
When it comes time for Rusty to go to Berkley, where he just knows he’s going to fail, Oliver does all he can to assure him that he’ll be there for him and that he knows Rusty won’t get lost in the shuffle. And… he kisses Rusty – telling him to just “think about it”.
Rusty is left at Berkley- lost, scared, trapped with a crazy but warm-hearted-hyper-sexual-roommate (Rex), and the memory of Oliver’s kiss to make him question…everything.
When it becomes apparent that Rusty is in fact not ready for Berkley – though he tries damn hard – he is ready for Oliver and knows that Oliver is more than just his best friend. Rusty goes home for Thanksgiving and is greeted by Oliver and kisses. His family witnesses this and kicks Rusty out of the house.
Luckily, Oliver’s family is there to help Rusty pick up the pieces and get him set up. What follows, is Rusty’s jump into the deep end of adulthood and his navigation of his first real relationship that also happens to be his first gay relationship.
Oliver’s impatience and love both help and hinder him in this process, but the underlying support he and his dad offer Rusty give him the strength to grow into the man he needs to become.
After Gambling Men, this is my favorite Amy Lane book. It is sweet, funny, tender, lightly sexy and really wonderful.
Rusty’s character is so open and honest as is Oliver. I love that the two have constant communication about their feelings, but even so, still manage to run into trouble because relationships are hard! Oliver just can’t understand Rusty’s reluctance to have him move in and Rusty just can’t be pressured in to giving Oliver anything but a wonderful home.
Oliver is just smart and snarky enough to ease the saccharine sweetness of Rusty’s goodness and make them a real, fun, and sexy couple.
I loved the interactions with the secondary characters. The role model of Oliver’s dad. The hilarity of the cousins. The hero-worship of Rusty’s sister. And the eventual grace of Rusty’s parents.
I read this book when I need a warm hug on a rainy afternoon and it always makes me feel better.
I can’t recommend it enough.
I have been waiting for this to come out on audio FOREVER! I love Nick Russo so I was psyched to see he narrated this. He does Oliver and his family to PERFECTION! Just a hint of accent with a boatload of attitude! I love his Rex and even his Nicole! He absolutely outshone my expectations and made the wait totally worth it!
6 of 5 stars
"Oliver 💖 Rusty"
What a lovely Christmas tale this was. I just adored Rusty. Every time he thought he was stupid, I just wanted to hug him because he truly had a good genuine heart with everything and everyone. I loved Oliver and his family and was just over the moon for Rusty's sister.
A lovely story indeed!
"The Perfect Christmas Story!"
This book made me laugh, cry and everything in between. This love story really captures the tug-of-war that happens when someone realizes who they truly are and try to reconcile that with who their family thinks they should be. This book was my life…
Share this with anyone that you struggle with letting them truly know the inner you…
"Heartwarming & Sweet Coming of Age Holiday Romance"
Whole-heartedly! Everyone must experience Rusty. He will make them smile, swoon, and feel-good, but also he will make one want to hug him and protect him because he's a genuinely nice guy doing his best.
Oh gosh, just one? Hmm, when Rusty and Oliver share that first kiss. This is Rusty's first hint that he might be gay. It was sweet and thoughtful. Rusty is confused and a little scared, but he doesn't freakout on Oliver. Oliver is still his friend now Rusty has to figure things out in his usual slow, steady way.
The narrator, Nick Russo, was brilliant. He nailed Rusty's voice. I had no doubt that I was listening to Rusty tell his story. The slower, methodical, yet wry tone along with the pacing, the inflections were superb. I have another book he narrated and after this, I am as eager for his narration as I am for the story.
Can I just take out Oliver's whole family? Seriously, they come as a package deal and their interactions are highly entertaining and fun.
The story is gently paced and seems simple on the surface. But I liked how the layers are there and give the reader something with which to be drawn to emotionally. Rusty is the centerpiece and the delight, but the supporting cast are each worth the encounter.
This was a perfect holiday distraction and better than half the holiday movies.
"Sweet Holiday Romance."
Rusty is from a wealthy family and he knows he is a dumb jock. His family wants him to go to Berkely but he knows he could never make it there. His father of course insists and pulls strings, making it hard for him there as well. He is a bit slow on the uptake not realizing how
his best friend in high school feels about him. Around Thanksgiving, he finally got it and was so glad to see Oliver he got caught up n a kiss and was busted by his mom finding him from rags to riches. But what he learns is that there is more to life than what money can buy and the best families you don't have to be born into.
This is a very sweet,story about two young men finding each other, becoming friends first and solidifying their relationship. Rusty wants to be able to offer Oliver more than an air mattress on the floor in a cold apartment and Oliver wants to teach Rusty home is where they are.
I loved this story. I loved how they relationship built but what I liked the most was where so many people hopped in in Rusty's time of need. Not only with material things but support.
As usual, Nick J Russo gave a stellar performance. He has a soothing voice and drew me into the story.
If you like sweet, New adult romance, coming out, gay for you, finding one's place in life, A holiday story and a clean but sexy story you will love this
I was given a copy of this for an honest review..
"I smile each time I listen to it...."
I know this is geared more to a younger audience but this story took me back to my last years of high school. Junior and Senior years filled with track and tennis meets, working through harvest season and going to the County fair. Those days were hectic, just a bit chaotic and apprehensive with college on the horizon.
The story wrapped me up and took me back to those days, and with the magic and I do mean magic of Nick J. Russo brought the story closer to home, cause we all knew a Russell Baker or was it his voice reminded us of a guy we all once knew who sounded and talked just like Rusty....
Thanks for the great story and Nick J. Russo who help fix the story in my head with memories of a guy who sounded like Rusty.
"Something felt off..."
The main couple. Rusty was likeable, Oliver was likeable, and yet I just never felt that there was a ton of chemistry between them. Rusty seemed to have a ton of chemistry with Rex, his college roommate, but at times he seemed to be going through the motions with Oliver because he loved being part of their family so much. I'd have liked to either see more care from him to Oliver, or for he and Oliver to have come to the conclusion that a first love with the only homosexual you know isn't necessarily your "forever love".
In spite of my above comments, I do think it was worth a listen. Maybe just one, and I'm not sure if I'll be able to go back to it and fully enjoy it. But the side characters were funny and interesting, almost everyone was overall likeable, and the story itself is good.
"I adored this storie. 🎄"
Amy Lane has an amazing writing gift
and it shows in all her storie.
But when it's turn in audio then it could be hit or miss for me .
if the storie is not well Matched to the rite narrator it could be a pain is the ass for me.
But this one was a good match.
the storie is so rich and full of character it's hard to care who the narrator is. but this one does not disappointe it was just right.
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