Title: Yuletide Truce
Publisher: Sandra Schwab
Release Date (Print & Ebook): 22 September 2017
Length (Print & Ebook): 18,000 words
Subgenre: historical romance, Victorian romance, mm romance, holiday romance.
It’s December, Alan “Aigee” Garmond’s favorite time of the year, when the window display of the small bookshop where he works fills up with crimson Christmas books and sprays of holly. Everything could be perfect — if it weren’t for handsome Christopher Foreman, the brilliant writer for the fashionable magazine About Town, who has taken an inexplicable and public dislike to Aigee’s book reviews.
But why would a man such as Foreman choose to target reviews published in a small bookshop’s magazine? Aigee is determined to find out. And not, he tells himself, just because he finds Foreman so intriguing.
Aigee’s quest leads him from smoke-filled ale-houses into the dark, dingy alleys of one of London’s most notorious rookeries. And then, finally, to Foreman. Will Aigee be able to wrangle a Yuletide truce from his nemesis?
Yuletide Truce is a delightfully cute holiday M/M romance about geeky book reviewers set in the Victorian period. This short story was adorable in every way, from the characters, to the story, to the little dash of enemies-to-lovers trope.
This fluffy story is just the sort of quick read I needed to get out of my brief reading slump, and I still can’t stop smiling over it.
Alan “Aigee” Garmond loves the Yuletide season, but this year his recent nemesis, Christopher Foreman – the Adonis of Fleet Street and a rival book reviewer – has taken to ripping apart Aigee’s reviews. I personally adored Aigee and thought he was the sweetest, but buffest, nerd who just wants to enjoy fairytales. His passion for books and reading was genuine and endearing. Aigee comes from Bethnal Green, one of the poorer suburbs of London, and has had to work his way up from poverty to somewhat middle-class respectability, and the only thing that has been his constant companion throughout those years were books.
Aigee has a major crush on Christopher, but doesn’t understand why the man is badmouthing his reviews. It’s no secret I love an enemies-to-lovers romance over … basically any other romance, and so the little touch of this trope in the novella had me giggling like a loon!
Christoper – or Kit – works as a reviewer for About Town, one of London’s most fashionable magazines. He’s grumpy, quite up-himself, and ridiculously handsome (and probably knows it). You all know what I’m like: I love a mean, rude love interest, and so was low-key rooting for Kit, even when he snubbed Aigee. But Kit also learns from his behaviour and begins to wonder why Aigee’s reviews get under his skin so much.
Yuletide Truce‘s plot was sweet and engaging, with just the right amount of angst to keep things interesting. The story features distinctive characters with a lot of personality and fascinating background histories that I wanted to know more about, especially in Aigee’s case. Schwab’s writing was expressive, detailed and informative; I wanted this book to be a full-length novel, not just a novella, because everything about it was wonderful.
Coincidentally, the same week I read this novella was the same week I studied Victorian publishing at uni! The publishing world in Victorian England is so similar to todays, I couldn’t stop laughing: you’ve got big-time reviewers going after independent ones, reviewers talking about the integrity of reviewing a book – ‘I thought puffing went out of fashion in the thirties’ – and literary reviewers looking down on those who enjoy popular fiction. Sound familiar?
I’ve been following the blog tour for Yuletide Truce, and in an interview Schwab mentioned that the novella was inspired by real-life rivalries in Victorian publishing: ‘One editor had the habit of leafing through the periodicals of his competitors, and whenever he saw a negative review of a friend’s book or a negative article about a friend and colleague, he would immediately insert a passionate rebuttal into his own magazine. I thought it would be fun to develop a story out of such a rivalry.’ This just makes me laugh so much because the book world obviously hasn’t changed in the past two centuries.
Yuletide Truce is a tender romance between a simple book reviewer and a caustic professional. It’s a great, quick read if you’re looking for something entertaining but with bite too.
Quote from Sandra Schwab about the book:
Yuletide Truce is a feel-good enemies-to-lovers holiday romance that takes you on a sweeping journey to Victorian London, to fog-filled streets and smoke-filled taverns, to Fleet Street, where news are made, and to Bethnal Green, where once a crime lord ruled as supreme master. Meet those who criticized a rich ruling class that clung to its old privileges, and those who eked out a meagre livelihood on the streets of the metropolis. Yuletide Truce not a story about rich people, but a story about two ordinary men — because everybody deserves a happily-ever-after, and I want to challenge the idea that it’s somehow only straight, white, rich people whose stories deserve to be told.
Quotes from other authors about the book:
“Sandra Schwab’s Yuletide Truce is charming and witty, and I thoroughly enjoyed the peep into Victorian literary culture. The relationship between the proudly self-made Aigee and carelessly arrogant Foreman unfolds through dueling book reviews and salon repartee, but also in wonderfully drawn London streets and rickety boarding houses. The cross-class romance is a terrific cup of holiday cheer.” –Emma Barry, author of the Fly Me to the Moon series with Genevieve Turner
“Yuletide Truce is warm and cozy, just what I want out of a holiday romance. Aigee is a total cinnamon roll and it was lovely to see him happy.” –Cat Sebastian, author of The Ruin of a Rake and The Soldier’s Scoundrel
Aigee pushed forward through the crowd in the direction Sherrick had indicated, and sure enough: over there, a table in the corner had been taken by four men from About Town, among them Christopher Foreman—that mop of golden curls was unmistakable. He was lounging on his chair, long legs stretched out in front of him.
Aigee took a deep breath. “Mr. Foreman. A word, if you please.”
Very slowly, the blond head turned, golden brows arched delicately. “Dear me. If it isn’t Munro’s pup,” Foreman drawled.
It wouldn’t do, Aigee told himself, to lose his temper and plant a wallop onto Foreman’s arrogant nose. Not in a crowded tavern, where a good quarter of the men present were happily belting out the chorus to a song about a milkmaid and a magic flute.
It was the kind of song that would have made moralists turn pale, if not fall into a dead faint.
Not that Aigee hadn’t heard worse.
He pasted a pleasant smile on his face. “Mr. Foreman, I’m sorry my reviews don’t appeal to you. However, I don’t see why you should take such umbrage, considering that Munro’s is a rather small magazine. Perhaps it is time to focus your ire on somebody else’s work. Preferably work from a magazine equal to About Town.”
The golden brows rose even higher. “So the pup talks?”
The other men at the table chuckled.
Inwardly, Aigee gritted his teeth, but still kept his voice pleasant. “I fail to understand why you hold me in such dislike, Mr. Foreman, but I would ask you not to take it out on my employer.”
Foreman flicked a lazy hand, as if he were swatting away an annoying fly. “Dislike? You must have misunderstood me.” His voice turned venomous. “Why should a pup like you interest me? It’s your simpering reviews I hold in contempt. Puff pieces to boost your employer’s sales.”
By now, several men were listening in on their conversation.
“Hear, hear!” somebody said. “I thought puffing went out of fashion in the thirties.”
“So last century,” somebody else muttered.
This time, Aigee allowed his teeth to show. “Puffing? I write nothing that I don’t mean. And we all want to make a living.”
Foreman’s glittering gaze swept over him. “I have no objection to you making a living, Mr. Garmond. As long as it doesn’t involve writing literary reviews.” His lips curved into a taunting smile. “Surely it should be obvious that somebody like you has no business writing them.”
Aigee felt each word as if it were a slap. There was a great rushing noise in his ears, and suddenly, all the sounds in the tavern seemed to come from very far away.
Award-winning author Sandra Schwab started writing her first novel when she was seven years old. Thirty-odd years later, telling stories is still her greatest passion, even though by now, she has exchanged her pink fountain pen of old for a black computer keyboard. Since the release of her debut novel in 2005, she has enchanted readers worldwide with her unusual historical romances (some of which she now uses to shamelessly fangirl over Punch, her favourite Victorian magazine).
She holds a PhD in English literature, and in autumn 2015, she appeared on the BBC documentary Great Continental Railway Journeys to talk about another favorite topic of hers, the Grimms’ fairy tales (while walking through a rather muddy stretch of the Black Forest) (there were a lot of slugs, too).
She lives in Frankfurt am Main / Germany with a sketchbook, a sewing machine, and an ever-expanding library.
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