Title: Joys R Us
Author: Kim Fielding
Length: 9,082 words (49 pdf pages)
Publisher: Silver Publishing
Genre: m/m contemporary
Reece considers holiday events wasteful. But when he’s coerced into standing in line for this year’s must-have toy, he gets trampled by the crowd. Store manager Angel rescues him–but can Angel also show Reece the joy of Christmas?
Reece is a practical, orderly man, a financial analyst who considers most holiday events wasteful. But his sister coerces him into standing in line overnight for this year’s must-have toy. Supplies of Daredevil Danny prove smaller than expected, and Reece gets trampled in the resulting stampede. Toy store manager Angel tends to Reece’s wounds. When Angel discovers Reece’s cynical attitude, he invites Reece to spend Christmas Eve with him. Over the course of the day, Angel shows Reece what Christmas means to him. With Angel’s guidance, maybe Reece can finally understand the joy of the holiday–and maybe even find love as well.
Flashes of humour in this story made it entertaining, but I felt a bit like I was being preached at, or rather Reece was. When his sister “blackmails” him into going to the toy store to get the latest gift for her son, Reece is not impressed. He thinks the kid would be better off with money in his college fund than a hunk of plastic, but he agrees to go. It’s worse than he imagined and even though he got a number indicating he was guaranteed the toy, he is trampled by the stampeding mob and while being tended by hot Assistant Manager Angel, he loses his chance to get the toy. However Angel asks him out, so all is not lost.
Their date turns out to be Angel’s opportunity to imbue Reece with the Christmas spirit, taking him on a variety of charitable outings, including serving at a soup kitchen and wrapping gifts at the shelter for homeless LGBT people, showing Reece that there is more to gift giving than just greed and crass commercialism. This is where it kind of lost me. I find the “let me show you all the poor people and how you can improve their lives” message rather preachy and over-done. Is Reece, an intelligent educated man unaware of homeless people or banished youth? And does one experience with them really change you? I suppose it’s the Christmas Carol method of awakening, but I find it rather as if I, along with the main character, am being lectured to. But that is just me.
I didn’t really connect with either man that much. While I like curmudgeonly characters, Reece was just annoying and Angel seemed to go the extreme opposite. I’m not sure two such disparate mind could really meet, but this is just my opinion. It’s a bit more of a sentimental story than some others and if you like that “touched by the Christmas spirit” trope, you’ll probably enjoy this one a bit more than I did.