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REVIEW: The King of Cups by Elinor Gray



American college student Charlie Porter is stuck in London for Christmas, thanks to massive winter storms that blanket the Europe. He’s facing a holiday spent in a hostel eating cold beans out of a can, when Hugh Campbell, his friend from university, surprises him with an invitation to Scotland. If Charlie is going to miss Christmas with his own family, he might as well spend it with someone else’s. But nothing is ever that simple, especially when Hugh’s mum puts them up in Hugh’s old bedroom together. Charlie’s been nursing a crush on Hugh since they met, but he can’t ruin a perfectly good friendship over that.

Hugh knew his mum and dad would see right through him, but he should have expected that Charlie would get the boyfriend treatment. Rather than dispel any illusions, he and Charlie agree to let the matter lie and to act as normal as possible. But when Hugh’s friends get on his case about Charlie, he’ll deny his attraction until the sun comes up. Not that anyone believes him.

Without the distractions of school work or flatmates, the tension of being alone together grows. Charlie is headed home after the New Year, and then will be gone for good by the summertime. Can they sort out their feelings before it’s too late? Or will this just be another missed opportunity?


Once again I have taken a chance on a new to me author and that chance has paid off. This story was almost perfect for me. The almost is based entirely on the length because I want more of the boys. More and more and more.

The King of Cups is an adorable friends to lover’s story. Told in the dual POV’s of Charlie and Hugh, we learn that these friends have crushed on one another the entire term but neither of them made a move. Oh, but they both wanted to, so much.  I know this trope, some don’t like it but the unrequited love deal is one of my favorites. It leads to angst, which I am a sucker for, it leads to stolen moments and it gives you a slow burn. The slow burn with this story was done so well that once we get to the good stuff? Yeah, the good stuff was hot.

Charlie Porter wants nothing more than to fly back to the United States after the end of the college term and cuddle up in the warmth and safety of his family, but Mother Nature has other plans. The wicked snow storm isn’t letting Charlie leave London and after a tearful talk with his mom, he calls his friend Hugh Campbell and asks if he can crash on his couch again.

It being the Christmas break and all, Hugh is getting ready to travel back to Scotland… sorry, I need to pause for station identification here. Did I mention Hugh is not only a swimmer, but he is Scottish, a curly haired ginger who has freckles and blue eyes? Good lord. *swoon* If I didn’t fall for Hugh with the description I tripped over my infatuation with him once we get his POV.  So back to the story; Hugh will be leaving soon to go home and Charlie is displaced so Hugh offers him a holiday with family, Hugh’s family. Charlie wants to go home, he is so heartbroken over it, but the lure of Hugh and the magic of Scotland and its castle ruins allow him to agree to the trip.

“You’ve been to Scotland before, haven’t you?”

“I went to Edinburgh once, when I was a kid,” Charlie said.

“Edinburgh, pah,” Hugh scoffed. “Tourist stuff. When you see Lochnagar, you’ll forget Edinburgh Castle ever existed.”

Goodness. These boys, they just tugged at my heart. They have these small moments; a touch, a look, a slip of the tongue of what they really think or want but they don’t act on it. Both Charlie and Hugh like one another, but value their friendship so they won’t make a move to mess that up in case they are rejected. If they only knew that the moves would be welcomed.

Once in Scotland and at home with the Campbell’s, the boys settle into a new level of their friendship. Oh and um, Hugh’s mom puts them in the same bed together because she thinks they are boyfriends

“Dude,” Charlie said, “Your mom thinks we’re having sex. And she didn’t separate us. I can’t tell if she’s awesome, or deranged.”

The families in this were beyond awesome. It’s usually the norm to have one set of parents not okay with their sons sexuality but in this, is pleasant and cozy to have both Charlie’s and Hugh’s families not only accepting who they are without question but both hopefully nudging the boys back together. The Skype and phone chats with Charlie’s parents with Hugh being there in some way and Hugh’s family bringing Charlie into the family fold as their first footer. It was so nice to read it and so nice to feel enveloped by all the love. It’s what Christmas is about for me.

Anyway… the boys hang out around the house and get invited to a party at Hugh’s friend’s house where they play, King of Cups. This game is awesome. It sounds like so much fun and I am afraid how fast my fingers would go down when around my group of friends. It was a great time for the boys to loosen up and a wonderful time for Hugh’s friend, Colleen to give him a smack in the right direction which leads us to the magic of the book and the beautiful scenery of Stonehaven Castle. Ugh.

This story, it was so much more than I expected. I adored it. The writing was beautiful and the story well paced, The holiday traditions with Hugh’s family from Christmas to Hogmanay were descriptive and informative but not overwhelming to story. I could go on and on but I think I have babbled enough. I fell in love with these friends who turn into lovers. I loved the first kiss, I am the biggest sucker for it and from that moment on, the slow burn was on fire. I don’t need raunchy scenes in every story have it be hot and this was hot. It was sexy and sensual and aww inducing and was breathtaking. I enjoyed every damn word of this story. There is not one thing that I can say I didn’t like and I could have read more of the boys. I would like to beg the author for more of the boys, even if it’s just a short to know what happens in the summer. I have a story made up in my head and I know what I want to happen, but… please? Can I have more of Hugh and Charlie?

Christmas stories hold a special place in my heart. I have always been in love with the magic that swirls around the season and The King of Cups is the type of story that makes me love it more. Charlie and Hugh could not have picked a better place, or a better time of year, to begin a relationship and I am so thankful I had a chance to share it with them.

 Charlie leaned against him, his head on Hugh’s shoulder and his hand tucked into Hugh’s jacket pocket. He smelled like mulling spices and January air and new beginnings.




kingofcupstxtTitle: The King of Cups
Author: Elinor Gray
Publisher: Helianthus Studios  
Pages: 113
Release Date: November 1, 2014
Purchase Links: Amazon, B&N, Smashwords

About Sara

I'm a runner, a reader and a vegan food eater. I practice yoga and meditation. I live in a house full of boys and rescue dogs. I really need a vacation.

One comment on “REVIEW: The King of Cups by Elinor Gray

  1. Pingback: Reviews for The King of Cups | Elinor Gray - Author

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This entry was posted on November 28, 2014 by in Contemporary, Reviewer: Sara, YA / NA and tagged , , .

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