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Growing up in rural Texas, Mitchell Evans’ ambition to be a dancer made him a target. Though he found success in New York City, Mitch is at a crossroads, and heads home for the first time in twelve years to figure things out. When what appears to be a reindeer jumps out in front of his car, he drives off the road and into the path of the one man he hoped to avoid.
The last person Texas Ranger Web Eisley expects to see four days before Christmas is his first love. He hasn’t seen Mitch since they quarreled over coming out to their friends and family years ago. Though he’s not in the closet now, Web has worked hard for the respect of his fellow officers, but he still regrets the loss of Mitch in his life. And his bed.
The attraction between them is as strong as ever, and it doesn’t take long for the men to pick up where they left off. But is love enough to keep Mitch in town in the New Year?
This is a lovely holiday novella from Lanyon. The story focuses on professional ballet dancer Mitch, who returns to his Texas hometown under the guise of taking care of his deceased father’s affairs, but is really running from the realization that his lover of several years was cheating on him. But once he’s back, he faces more realizations, including a town that hadn’t forgotten about him, and a first love that wasn’t as over as he thought it was.
I’m a big fan of Lanyon’s works, including his Christmas stories. (Beside Lone Star, the others are Icecapade and The Dickens with Love.) I like how Lanyon mixes his straight-forward, non-fluffy style with the warm themes often found in a holiday romance. (Love, redemption, forgiveness, home, family, and new beginnings.)
Lanyon’s storytelling usually mixes mystery with romance, so Lone Star really stands out for being a “straight-up” romance story (no crime to solve this time!) that follows two men reconnecting after years of separation. A lot of poignancy is added as Mitch comes to terms with his father’s death (and his father’s bitter feelings towards Mitch coming out and wanting to be a dancer), and also his struggles to understand his reignited feelings for Web (and the fears tied with it.)
At 26,000 words, it is a pretty fast read, but a very nice and warm one. (I may have been watching too much Longmire, but I kept picturing Web as a younger version of Robert Taylor, which was pretty yummy actually.) I really liked Web, and I liked how his easy-going nature seemed to balance and temper Mitch’s more high-strung and worried personality. It was easy to see that they had years of experience with each other, even with the twelve year gap between meetings.
For fans of Lanyon’s work, or for fans of contemporary m/m romance in general, this story may very easily warm up your holiday spirit.
And for those who have already read it, there is a nice Christmas Coda with Mitch and Web over at Lanyon’s blog.
Ami – 4 stars