I confess I bought this purely because of the cover and the title, which seemed to sum up naughty feel-good escapist fun. I couldn't help thinking of Paul Hollywood throughout the book, which means I'll never be able to look at him the same way again, but still, that isn't a bad thing.
The blurb describes the story well so there's no point in rehashing it. I'll say right now I'm not into daddy kink, having read a book in the genre which underwhelmed me (not this author) but this book doesn't overdo the trope in a way that feels weird. It is much more a May to September story.
Grant is a sweetheart and I loved him. He looks like a big gruff silver fox but is marshmallow soft inside. His tastes in sex are purely vanilla but he is stepping out of his comfort zone by hiring Matt to break his bisexual virginity. I say bisexual, not gay, because Grant was happily married to his ex, Julia, for many years before their respective careers drove them apart. Refreshingly, Julia isn't a bitch! They also have two children, the boy being Matt's age (25,) so expect maximum awkwardness on the horizon.
Matt is the emotionally fragile escort who is hired by Grant and again, he is a lovely character. Flawed yes, as both of them are, but also possessing an inner strength and kindness despite his hard life. The author doesn't shy away from the realities of his profession. The life of a sex worker can be brutal and that is portrayed well here.
Even so, there are definite Pretty Woman vibes as Grant pays for Matt's company for the next three weeks, and shows him a lifestyle Matt is unfamiliar with. There is even a scene in a designer mens outfitters similar to the one in the film. At first Matt is suspicious, second-guessing everything Grant does, but gradually he begins to realise what he is feeling goes beyond a client relationship.
For a man well-versed in dealing with celebrity, and wanting to keep his exploratory time with Matt a secret, Grant seemed to do everything wrong. They share kisses on a London ice rink. They dance on the set of a programme very similar to Strictly Come Dancing. Matt is his constant companion and introduced as his "PA." In the end, Grant's slippery agent forces his hand, saying he can't represent him if he doesn't adhere to "family values." And yet it seems no one in the press suspects a thing. In places, believability is stretched so thin you can practically hear it squeak.
Yet this is such fun! And vanilla or not, the sex is very hot. This couple are like Energiser Bunnies on steroids. It would be easy to say this is just steamy, fabulous, escapist fun for Christmas, but the book does go a bit deeper than that. Both Grant and Matt have to undergo personal journeys of self-discovery and face some hard choices. They are helped by a warm and lovely cast of characters, some annoying (like Drew) and some genuinely surprising (Julia and Grant's children.) This book has more depth than you would expect for something with that title. It says something important, in that age, wealth, cultural differences and gender shouldn't stand in the way of genuine love. It left a warm glow and a feeling that life isn't that bad. If this was a film, I would totally watch it every Christmas.
This was a 4.5 star read for me. The story could have been tightened up a little, as it seemed overlong for what it was, but I would definitely recommend for a light but meaningful festive read, aglow with Christmas magic.
If Pretty Woman and a Christmas movie had a gay romance love-child...
Matt An escort who thought 25 would be easier than this. When not working hard, he switches off from men using him. Behind with his rent, he can’t refuse a client, a silver-fox TV personality, almost twice his age, who wants him for the Christmas holidays. Except he can’t switch off from Grant.
Grant Divorced at 45, disillusioned with his TV career and the media’s intrusion into his personal life, he faces Christmas alone in a hotel. After decades of denial he’s ready to explore his sexuality, but is unprepared for a man his son’s age who sets his blood pumping and senses soaring.
Silver Daddy, Jingle Bells is a steamy age gap gay romance, featuring opposites attract, bisexual awakenings and more festive sparkle than you can shake a large Christmas tree at.
Please note: Grant and Matt go on a voyage of emotional discovery which they very much need to have sex about.