Group Review: Desperately Seeking Santa by Eli Easton

Journalism student Gabe Martin gets his first professional assignment—to write about a Christmas charity dinner that benefits a children’s home. It sounds like a total snooze-fest until Gabe learns that the event’s Santa is a mystery man. He shows up in costume and no one has a clue who he is. Uncovering Santa’s identity sounds like the perfect angle to turn a fluff piece into serious journalism.

Mack “The Mountain” McDonall, at 6’10”, is University of Wisconsin-Madison’s enormous star wrestler. When Gabe first claps eyes on him at a wrestling match, it’s lust at first sight. Gabe’s friend, Jordan, sets up the pair on a date. But when Gabe chatters on about his plans for outing Santa, Mack goes cold, and their first meeting becomes an epic fail.

As Gabe researches the children’s home, he learns that Mack has secrets a guy famous for being a brute wouldn’t want the world to know. Can Gabe find his holiday spirit, write a killer article, win the heart of a surly giant, and give everyone a very merry Christmas?

NOTE: This 50,000 word short novel features a new couple but includes Jordan and Owen, from the author’s book “Superhero”. It can be read as a stand-alone.


Lost in a Book - 3.5 Hearts

Want a feel good, low drama holiday read? This fits the bill with its fluffy, low angst, and likable characters. I liked it, but it didn’t blow my elf socks off like Easton typically does. While many readers may want a feel good, easy peasy holiday romance, I’m all gimme my angst, kindle combusting steam and then seal it with sweetness. *shrug*

Gabe Martin, college senior and aspiring journalist has been assigned to cover the annual Elks Christmas Charity dinner that benefits St. Mark’s Children’s Home. After some research, Gabe decides to turn his story from puff piece to an investigative article on revealing the Santa that has a hidden identity yet brings much joy to the children at this dinner.

Now, I sure do hope you have read Superhero by Easton because it’s awesome and we're treated to Owen and Jordan being secondary characters in this story. Jordan invites Gabe to Owen’s wrestling match and he begrudgingly accepts. Apparently the idea of skin tight singlets on fit wrestlers wasn’t that appealing... until he sees Mack “The Mountain” McDonall.

Mack is a 285lb wrestler that’s straight muscle and stirs up an urgent need to learn all about “mountain climbing.” Gotta watch out for that high altitude and proper hand holds/placement. Maybe throw a carabiner in, too. *bites fist*

“That’s not a man, that’s a zip code.”

Yassssss… tell me more.

I was giddy with anticipation for Mack and his ability to pick up huge men off the ground. I was already dreaming about the *ahem* possibilities of someone that big and strong connecting with another man. Except, Mack wasn’t his wrestling persona. Don’t worry, I dig gentle giants too. He was shy, quiet, reserved, smart, and kept his head down to get through school and move on to the next stage. He wasn’t dealt the best hand at life but he is doing his part to make a difference.

Gabe and Mack are officially introduced when Jordan attempts to set them up. It’s all going swell until Mack retreats at Gabe’s mention of investigating Santa’s identity and using it for his article. The night ends quickly but it doesn’t stop Gabe from tracking Mack down. They form a tentative friendship and it slowwwwwly progresses. It grows as much as it can when both men are still tentative and hesitant to take it further. Much of the story shows their developing friendship with some real UST thrown in. An actual relationship doesn’t happen until the last 20% of the book which brought out my *disappointed face*. Gabe and Mack were opposites but likable characters and while I appreciated the foundation they built leading up to that moment when it all changes, I wanted more. More relational connection. More assertive in their wants. More of them together as they transitioned to boyfriends. And yes, I’ll say it, more heat.

One little oddity for me was the integration of Spanish. I’ll warn you that I took Spanish in high school for a few years and only came away with saying “No, I don’t have gum in my mouth” and “can I go to the bathroom.” Clearly, I’m not the expert on it and definitely wasn’t a model student either. However, Gabe embraced his Spanish side but stated that he wasn’t a proficient speaker due to his father not allowing it. Yet, there were many times throughout where Spanish words were thrown in. I have seen this in a few other books but it didn’t seem as forced as it did in this one. Mi Mama, dios, joder, etc., were all thrown in randomly and pulled me out each time. Again, not an expert on language integration and I look forward to some of my fellow reader's thoughts on the authentic-ness of the placements.

All in all, this was a sugary sweet, low angst, holiday read with a HEA. If that’s what you’re looking for, I’d recommend it.

Adam - 4.25 Hearts

It’s Jizmass season!

And as always, Eli Easton delivers on the holiday cheer and romance.

Journalism student Gabe Martin decides to liven up his first assignment by exposing the secret Santa of a local Christmas charity dinner. He thinks it’s a great idea, but it puts him directly at odds with his crush.

Mack “The Mountain” McDonall is the university’s star wrestler. He keeps his sexuality under wraps, but he’s definitely interested in Gabe.

I thoroughly enjoyed Eli Easton’s young adult novella Superhero, so I was instantly excited when I learned that Jordan and Owen would be making a guest appearance. I loved seeing the two happy and still head over heels for each other!

When Gabe first spots Mack in his wrestling singlet, it’s lust at first sight. Jordan decides to play cupid and set the two up on a blind date.

It goes downhill pretty quickly.

I got where Gabe was coming from, wanting to make a mark as an up-and-coming journalist. But his plan to reveal the secret identity of a charity Santa would probably earn him coal for Christmas. So yeah, it wasn’t the best idea.

I could have done with less of Mack’s hot and cold routine, but I understood why he reacted the way he did. It’s obvious to readers from the get-go who the secret Santa actually is.

What isn’t obvious is exactly why Mack was keeping things so hidden. As Mack’s story is revealed bit by bit, my heart hurt for him. It didn’t take me long to fall for this gentle giant!

Plus, I loved Gabe and Mack’s dynamic. While Mack might not be happy with Gabe’s plan, he can’t deny how much he likes Gabe. And Gabe, on the other hand, only wants to make things work between them.

Gabe gradually wins Mack over with a number of cute gestures. And very slowly, Mack opens up and let’s Gabe in under his walls.

The romance was very cute and sweet. Their relationship builds bit by bit, and I really enjoyed the mellow feel to the story. There’s little angst here, but lots of laughs and cutesy feels.

The epilogue had me grinning with every sentence!

Overall, I really enjoyed ‘Desperately Seeking Santa.’ If you’re looking for a low-angst and easy-to-read holiday romance, I’d definitely recommend this book!

Chelsea - 4.5 Hearts

That was a big pile of Christmas fluff right there! Eli Easton's Christmas stories are always such a delight. This one was particularly sweet, I mean it had orphans…. and wrestlers!!!!

Gabe is an outgoing senior journalism student and is working on his first story for the local paper and is dying to make it something spectacular. Then he sees Mack, the 285 pound wrestler and develops something of a huge crush. Mack is completely opposite to Gabe, he keeps to himself and is slow to trust people.

These two are completely adorable and they have wonderful chemistry. They have a fairly shaky start but I felt both Gabe and Mack worked it out maturely and quickly then become so freakin cute.

The sex scene was hot for a YA novel although relatively unrealistic with Gabe taking Mack's 'proportionate’ dick so easily the first time. But what is Christmas all about if not a easy hard fuck with a massive dick and not much prep? Merry Jizzmas everybody!

In all seriousness this book was packed with the feels. I loved Mack's gentle nature and Gabe's understanding and loyalty. We get to see these two develop who they are to each other and individually. Totally adorable!

Like always Eli Easton just made me want more of her characters and more of their story. This will definitely be a Christmas reread next year.

A wonderful Christmas story.

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