Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Wreck the Halls by Jessica Payseur – Stocking Stuffers

Business has been good at Paul’s Café in Madison, Wisconsin—until a few months before Christmas. When Nick opens Nick’s Restaurant next door, Paul watches his customers leave for cheaper food and an owner who smiles more. With his livelihood at stake, Paul lashes out, trying to drive away Nick’s customers, but Nick won’t go easy, and escalating sabotage threatens to ruin the holidays for both of them.

Paul thinks all he wants for Christmas is to see Nick’s Restaurant go under, but the more he tries to drive Nick away, the less he’s sure he wants him to go. Nick is everything Paul secretly craves, but by the time he realizes Nick is all he really wants for the holidays, he might have ruined any chance for them to get together. And there might not be a present in the world that can fix that.

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Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

Jessica Payseur is a new-to-me author.

Paul has been running a restaurant for years, and all the sudden his business dropped off when another restaurant was opened next door. Scoping out the place, Paul meets Nick, and violent sparks fly.

Paul does something minor, an adult throwing a temper tantrum, and Nick retaliates in kind, but exponentially. This creates nemesis(es) who think the sparks they are feeling aren't lusty in nature. Tension and love-hate fill the pages for the bulk of this short story.

Paul's straight-laced and Nick's a fly by the seat of his pants kind of guy – this is a balance, each feeling slightly jealous and covetous of the other's personality.

I will say, I didn't believe Paul bettering his own restaurant should have been considered a form of retaliation against Nick. To better one’s self is not to lower another. To me, Nick did two 'plays' in a row, escalating the situation. So, while I had to keep in mind this was meant to be cute, it frustrated me and bothered my ethical side.

Paul and Nick engaged in vandalism foreplay, evolving at a nice pace, especially for a short story, then the ending threw me for a loop, causing me to drop a star. Talk about escalation. I'm still not sure if it was said in seriousness or sarcasm... when you read it, you'll see what I mean.

I do recommend, as I enjoyed being frustrated and love-hate, toying with one another is a favorite trope of mine. I am curious to sample more of what this author has to offer.

This is a slightly strange Christmas story, as I found that the actions of the two neighbouring restaurant owners, Paul and Nick, were not really funny or very adult. I like the idea of pranks, and the love/hate genre, but some of this was more than I was comfortable with accepting. It did, however, get them to acknowledge how much they wanted each other – and we got some interesting food combinations from it too.

I was delighted when they woke up to themselves... but totally thrown by the ending, wondering if I had missed a 'jump to one year later' message – but apparently not. Even for someone who falls at the drop of a hat, that seemed precipitous to me.

JESSICA PAYSEUR has been cursed with the ability to see a story in anything at all. This is especially useful in the long Wisconsin winter months, when the only inspiration the world gives is endless snow and the lingering promise of frostbite for the unwise. When not trying to write the stories away, she can be found taking long walks with her dog, going on small adventures with her partner, and generally attempting to thwart whatever devious schemes her cats have been plotting. She has an impressive collection of books, a modest collection of stationery, and a dwindling collection of wine, all of which she regularly enjoys.

Connect with Jessica

Twitter  ~  Blog  ~  Goodreads

Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of Stocking Stuffers: Wreck the Halls by Jessica Payseur to read and review.

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