Title: Nice: Mistletoe and Wine
Author: Elizabeth Coldwell
Length: 5,400 words (18 pdf pages)
Publisher: Torquere Press
Genre: m/m contemporary
Ryan hopes a Christmas party will give him the chance to get together with Luke, the man of his dreams. Fate steps in and pairs them for a scavenger hunt, but a mishap with a glass of wine leaves Ryan naked in a Laundromat, waiting for his rented angel costume to go through the wash. Will Laundromat attendant Michael turn out to be Ryan’s real Christmas angel?
Ryan is thrilled when he gets paired with his current crush for the scavenger hunt, and by chance his partner’s devil costume compliments his angel costume well. Luke is good-looking and everything Ryan thinks he wants in a man, although as they start the scavenger hunt he soon realizes that Luke is more interested in Ryan for his knowledge of the town (Luke is new in town) and his ability to get them to the clues first than as a potential date. To top things off, a woman spills red wine on his white angel costume and he’s so disheartened by Luke’s behaviour that he tells Luke to go back with the list of things and leave him at a local laundromat to get his costume clean. When the laundromat attendant Michael returns to find a naked Ryan reading the paper, he invites him upstairs to wait for his costume to be finished.
This is told in first person which is not one of my favourite points of view but I think it works well here. First Ryan’s excitement at getting paired with his crush and then his growing disappointment when he realizes Luke is all about winning and not really interested in getting to know him personally comes through well in this POV. Although I never really quite got his connection to Michael, but I’m starting to wonder if it’s a guy thing, “hi, nice to meet you, let’s get naked” (well, he was already naked technically). It was a well written story with an interesting concept of the scavenger hunt, but perhaps because Ryan and Michael only meet and have a few hours together I didn’t get all that invested in them as a couple.