Book Reviews, Nell Iris' Christmas

Christmasvaganza: Sunday Review


Hi everyone. Sundays in Christmasvaganza are dedicated to reviews of Holiday stories so you’ll have more to read when you’ve finished all three of mine (<- shameless self-promo alert).

First out is Teddy Bears by Brandon Witt.

xmas teddy bears cover

Other than working the front desk of a gay bathhouse in Denver, Brian McKay is a bit of a recluse. At the best of times, his social life consists of work, role-playing games at a local toyshop, and making YouTube videos with his Teddy Bear hamsters. The arrival of the holidays—with the annoying music, Christmas shopping, and all the reminders of how he disappointed his father—just reinforces his reclusive nature.

When James Olsen, a gorgeous daddy bear who frequents the bathhouse, notices him, Brian is at a loss. He’s not proud of his own bear status or his struggle with weight. The idea that James has interest in him beyond an easy hookup is more than Brian can fathom. But with a little bit of holiday magic, James might help Brian learn to accept Christmas again—and himself.

When Dreamspinner Press had their Halloween sale, I splurged on a ton of short stories, mostly from their earlier Advent Calendars. (I got 11 stories for less than 20 bucks!!) And among them was this one.

I have one important question: why on earth haven’t I read anything by Brandon Witt before?

I ADORED this story and everything about it. The characters (all of them, even the Bathhouse Santa) are amazing, but I especially love Brian. He has a lot of insecurities, but the author has done a really great job of not letting them take over. I want to scoop him up in my arms and shower him with love, but at the same time he’s funny and smart. And he’s a huge geek…and I have a bit of a thing for geeks.

“What? Did my geek level just freak you out?”


Teddy Bears is short—47 pages according to Goodreads—but it’s perfect. We get to know enough of Brian’s backstory to understand his behavior and it’s more than enough to make me fall head over heels for both MCs. And most importantly: this gem of a book was what I love most about stories: a fabulous mix of happy and sad. One moment I laughed out loud and the next I was fumbling for my Kleenex.

This book ended up on my feelgood-reread shelf, and now I’m taking my wallet over to the bookstore to shop more Brandon Witt books.