Let Your Heart Be Light
If you’re not ready yet to let go of lovely holiday feelings, let me recommend a charming Christmas romance collection. Let Your Heart Be Light by J.R. Lawrie (published by Carnation Books) is a set of three M/M holiday love stories about two couples. The first is a goofy blue-haired stand-up comic who finds the love of his life in an older civil servant. The second features two neighbors who finally get a chance to meet after one is treated on Christmas Eve by the other, a doctor. (Note that this is for adults only, since there are explicit sex scenes, as well as a lot of comedy and heart.)
Just a year ago, I never would have dreamed I’d be talking about (or so excited about) a book in this genre, but … then I discovered fanfic. (And since so many lead characters are male, you pretty much have to accept male/male relationships, particularly if you fall for a rare pair.) And I should probably reveal that I’m not entirely unbiased about this particular book, because I’m mentioned in the Acknowledgements. Lawrie is also known as Mottlemoth, who is my favorite fanfic writer, and I helped a little with proofreading.
I had read two of these stories when they were still online, and I adored them then. I hadn’t realized that she’d make them into so much more when she revamped and greatly expanded them to feature her own creations. Writing fanfic is getting a boost, since you’re using established characters (although if you focus on the supporting cast, there may not be that much to know about them), and you’re presumably writing for people who already share your interest. Creating characters that feel real without the benefit of a shared viewing experience takes much more skill.
And that’s where the first story comes from, putting in the background as we get to know the first couple. Zack, stand-up comedian, meets Richard, distinguished and powerful government consultant, at an art gallery. Richard has the money to collect. Zack’s just there to support his sister, a sculptor. They’re instantly attracted, despite their very different lives. And the flirting! Clever and funny — which is hard to write. This comes across so very well I want to meet them both. Or just listen to them a lot.
Before they return, we meet Dr. David Christmas, who regrets the holiday because of his name, and his neighbor Julian, who has slipped, fallen, and wound up needing medical care. When David offers to help Julian home, the two quietly get to know each other better over Christmas Eve. It’s slow, comfortable, and heart-breaking in all the good ways to watch these older, nervous men find happiness.
Then it’s back to Zack and Richard. Zack has been invited to join Richard’s posh, stuffy, old-school gentleman’s club, and his presence shakes things up quite a bit. It’s an adorable story where we see just what the two men bring to each other, plus holiday fun as Zack manipulates the schemers who see him as a way to get to his otherwise remote partner and brings in some much-needed energy.
These stories are wonderful, full of love and humor and heart. Would that we all could find such romance in our own lives. If you’d like a sample of Lawrie’s work, with these characters, she’s posted a stand-alone story.