Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Length: 60,475 words
Cover Design: Alexandria Corza
After years away building his career, event planner Sebastian Chesnut returns to his small hometown of Fir Falls to reconnect with his mother, sister, and young nieces before his job takes him to London.
He doesn't expect to find his high school boyfriend, Matty, has become a virtual member of Seb's family. Back then, Matty only offered a casual relationship, but Seb fell hard, and history is soon repeating itself. Seb’s afraid to hope for a second chance, no matter how much they’ve grown and despite the family they share. Instead, he focuses on creating a last perfect holiday, which won’t be easy with his sister’s ex planning to take the girls over Christmas.
Seb and Matty might not know what to do about their feelings for each other, but one thing’s for sure—it won’t be Christmas without the kids. Can these star-crossed lovers pull off a holiday miracle?
Sebastian has spent the last five years missing his family, especially his two nieces, Chance and Rowan. Sure he’s skyped with his mother, sister and the girls but it’s not the same as being there. But he’s worked so hard and sent every spare penny home to make sure that his mother kept their family home and that her shared business with his sister became a success. Now he has a chance at a huge promotion—the only catch is the job is in England. But at least he’ll have this Christmas to spend with his family—maybe that will make the feeling of loss at moving a bit better. What Seb doesn’t expect to see when he arrives is his high school boyfriend Matty firmly ensconced in his family home as a beloved and important uncle. Between his jealousy over Matty having a bigger place in his niece’s hearts than him and his deep pangs of loss over what he once had with Matty, Seb realizes Christmas and his ex-boyfriend may break his heart all over again.
I will admit that I struggled with Santa’s Last Gift just a bit. Author Sandine Tomas does write a sweet and romantic holiday story but I stumbled over just how she crafted Matty’s character and how intensely he loved Seb’s family. From calling Seb’s mother “Ma” to how the two children seemed to almost view Matty with more love than even their father who may have been divorced from their mother but who was certainly not written as a distant dad, the whole plot point had me confused. Perhaps it was because Matty rarely spoke of his own parents or maybe there were not enough past memories of how cold and distant they were to him that made his clinging to Seb’s family seem a bit over the top and odd. Whatever the reason I felt myself almost disliking his intrusions into Seb’s family time and oddly got angry over what felt like a blatant “see what you missed by trying to save us financially?” message from Seb’s sister over the one time telling him how wonderful he was for sacrificing for them. It made both mother and sister seem so ungrateful.
To further understand my confusion I never got the idea that the mother or sister really told Seb to stop helping financially and just come home to spend quality time. So, in many ways the story felt like it was missing some pieces. What did work in this novel’s favor was the children and how they warmed up to Seb as well as his coming to a decision that would change the rest of his life. That on page journey was really nicely written—it was realistic in terms of how the kids thawed toward their uncle and emotional when Seb finally understood what he really wanted in life.
In the end, I can honestly say that many may enjoy Santa’s Last Gift by Sandine Tomas. It is a lovely holiday themed story that has all the elements it needs to be a success. While I can’t say it was a favorite of mine I can certainly acknowledge good writing and this one certainly fits that bill.
Sandine Tomas grew up an unapologetic bookworm, making friends with characters from the ancient past to the farthest reaches of the universe. Her career as a marketing writer has given her insight into the divergence between what a person thinks they want and what they truly need. Relationships are at the heart of her writing, and she enjoys creating characters who become so real that their stories beg to be told. Writing allows her to explore people and ideas from all sides, spinning a notion around like a gem until its facets glisten.
Twisting the old adage about writing what you know into writing what you feel, Sandine doesn’t shy away from raw emotions, turbulent circumstances, and above all, deep passions, fueled by humor, honesty, and trust. She enjoys instilling her characters with the flaws, courage, and idiosyncrasies that brings them to life.
Sandine lives in New York with her husband, two daughters and a Golden Retriever puppy named Noodle. An unabashed TV and film enthusiast, she happily binge watches her favorites until her eyes glaze over. Her other guilty pleasures include attending fandom conventions, sleeping in on weekends, and recharging solo by holing up with a caramel macchiato and an amazing book.
If you’d like to chat, reach out to her here or on Twitter (@sandinetomas) or Facebook(sandine.tomas).
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