The Geek Who Saved Christmas by Annabeth Albert

the geek who saved christmas

This title may be purchased from Amazon

Gideon Holiday is the perfect neighbor. Need a cup of sugar? Spare folding chair? Extra batteries? He’s always ready to help. And he’s waited years for his hot, grumpy, silver fox neighbor, Paul, to need him. For anything. But this December, Gideon would be happy if he could just get the Scrooge-like Paul on board with the neighborhood holiday lights fundraiser.

Paul Frost has no intention of decking his halls or blazing any Yule logs. Even if his spunky bowtie-clad neighbor does look perfect for unwrapping, Paul would prefer to hide away until December is done. But when his beloved younger brother announces an unexpected visit, Paul needs all the trimmings for a festive homecoming—and fast.

Luckily, Gideon is there with a color-coded plan to save Christmas. Soon Paul’s hanging lights, trimming trees, and rolling out cookies. And steaming up his new flannel sheets with Gideon. How did that happen?

It’ll take some winter magic to preserve their happiness and keep these rival neighbors together longer than one holiday season.

Rating: B

Annabeth Albert’s The Geek Who Saved Christmas is a charming confection of seasonal goodness featuring a sweet and steamy grumpy/sunshine romance and lots of warm and fuzzy Christmas feels.  It’s a light-hearted, undemanding read, but the low-angst nature of the story don’t mean it lacks depth or a bit of bite;  even when she dials down the drama, Ms. Albert creates engaging characters with relatable problems and insecurities that arise naturally from their circumstances, so conflict feels organic rather than manufactured.  And with both leads in their forties, there’s plenty of baggage to be unpacked and learned behaviours to be unlearned before this Christmas Elf and his Grinch can arrive at a well-deserved HEA.

Bright and chirpy, Gideon Holiday (yes, really!) is the sort of guy who’s always ready to lend a hand. He enjoys helping people and making them happy – and he’s especially in his element when the holidays come around.  Every year, he co-ordinates the neighbourhood holiday lights fundraiser, selecting the theme, organising the donations and planning various holiday-themed activities – he loves doing it and when the book begins, it’s the night of the big reveal of this year’s scheme.  On his way into the community centre, Gideon bumps into his next-door neighbour, Paul Frost (yes, really!) and is rather surprised to see him as Paul is a bit of a grouch and community meetings aren’t really his thing.  The man may be a seriously hot silver fox, but Gideon doesn’t think he’s ever seen him smile, attend a single neighbourhood party or put up a single Christmas decoration.  But, ever the optimist, Gideon hopes that maybe Paul’s attendance at the meeting is a sign that might be about to change.

It isn’t – Paul is at the meeting for another reason entirely, but he can’t deny Gideon is fun to look at, with his impish grin and sparkling eyes as he gushes about lighting schemes and donation collection duties.  Paul doesn’t do Christmas and doesn’t see anything inherently magical about December – it’s just another month on the calendar and not worth all the fuss.  But then Gideon approaches him after the meeting and suggests that Paul can still contribute to the fundraising effort, but won’t have to do a single thing; Gideon can set up all the lights on Paul’s house and put them on timers.  Paul’s instinct is ‘hell, no’ – and he knows he’ll have to convince Gideon to leave him to have his seasonal funk in peace.

But fate, of course, has other plans.  A few days later, Paul’s younger brother Brandon – a genius scientist who lives on the West Coast – calls to tell Paul that he’s going to propose to his fiancée Elaine, and that he wants to bring her home for Christmas and then pop the question in front of the tree on Christmas morning.  As he listens to Brandon enthusing about a “real Christmas” with snow on the ground and a big tree in the living room, Paul’s heart sinks.  His house isn’t exactly ready for the perfect Christmas proposal, but there’s no way he’s going to tell Brandon not to come.

Luckily for Paul, a helping hand isn’t very far away – just next door in fact.  He’s far from thrilled at the idea that he needs help, but Brandon’s plans have stunned him into inaction and he doesn’t know what to do; he doesn’t intend to dump all his worries on Gideon, but somehow, they just come pouring out.  Gideon is only too pleased to come to the rescue – and of course, he Has A Plan.

Over the next few weeks, Gideon – with the aid of his many lists and spreadsheets (!) – slowly helps Paul to transform his somewhat spartan house into a warm and welcoming home.  The time they spend together shopping and decorating gives rise to a number of heartfelt conversations and insightful observations as they come to know each other better and begin to fall deeply in love.  Paul sees what nobody else does, that Gideon is lonely and works hard to keep himself busy, especially during the holidays; that he doesn’t really have anyone to spend them with but longs for closeness and connection.  And Gideon learns why Paul dislikes the season so much and tries to hibernate through it – but he’s  determined to make this a memorable Christmas for Paul and his brother.

Gideon and Paul both have things in their pasts that have affected them profoundly and continue to inform their choices, choices which probably aren’t right for them but which at least mean they can get on with their lives as best they can.  I think we can all relate to that.  They’re both decent, kind men who’ve lost their way somewhat, and who need a bit of help to get back onto the right path.  Gideon’s sense of self-worth has become tied up in how much use he can be to others, and he has to learn that he deserves to be loved for himself and not what he can provide, while Paul needs to realise that it’s past time he reclaimed the life he put on hold in order to take care of Brandon.  They have terrific chemistry and their journey from wariness to affection to love is really well done, with some nicely steamy moments along the way, and I enjoyed watching them offer each other the sort of care and understanding they’re both so badly in need of.  The secondary characters – Brandon and Elaine – are really well-written, and I loved the way they so easily and warmly accept Gideon into their family unit.

Warm, funny, sexy and poignant, The Geek Who Saved Christmas is sweet without being cloying, a delightful, low-angst romance full of festive cheer and genuine emotion.  It should definitely be on your radar if you’re looking for a feel-good, Christmassy love story to curl up with on a cold winter’s evening.

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