I've tried to start writing this review several times. It's not often that I'm almost speechless after I've read a book that I've been assigned to review. It's no secret that T.A. Chase is one of my `automatic buy' authors. Her books are often thoughtful and sexy and more often than not, they become favorites of mine.
When I asked to review, Joy of the Season, I could tell by the blurb that this was going to be a different book than the other Christmas stories I've read this year. It definitely deals with a very serious epidemic, AIDS, and the harsh reality that so many people that are inflicted with this terrible disease must go through. To my knowledge, there are not many gay romances that deal with this serious type of content. I think Ms. Chase is very brave to tackle what could have easily been a very dire and bitter story and turn it into a truly beautiful love story and thought-provoking read.
Fifteen years ago, Halloran Sims, started a hospice for AIDS patients in a huge mansion that he inherited from a distant aunt. At the time, his brother, Rupert, had been diagnosed with AIDS and both men were appalled by the treatment and care given to other patients that were suffering from the disease. They provided medicine, care and friendship for these patients and it has been a hard and but fulfilling business for them, and when Rupert passed away from the horrific disease, Hal became even that more determined to give the patients that were staying with him a warm and loving environment to live out the last journey of their lives with dignity and the respect that they deserve.
As time as gone by, living with these patients and the grim outcome of this disease has become difficult for Hal. Even though he enjoys what he does, watching these patients who have become almost like family to Hal, pass away has taken its toll on him. Hal's long hours and the emotional impact of watching so many loved ones die has caused him to become lonely in his personal life, and he has begun to believe that he'll never find someone to spend his life with.
Tavis Komen has a reputation of being a rich playboy. Every year, Tavis has donated a large amount of money to Hal's hospice, and since he's never been to the mansion to check it out, Hal is shocked when Tavis himself shows up and wants to spend the holiday season volunteering there.
At first, Hal has some reservations about Tavis being there, but once Tavis meets the patients, especially one in particular, Hal begins to see that there is a lot more to Tavis than meets the eye. Tavis's compassion and friendly banter with others almost immediately forms an emotional bond between Tavis and Hal that will not by denied.
This is truly a beautiful Christmas story. It's unlike anything else I've read in a long time and I was enthralled with every moment and word I spend reading it. Both men, Hal and Tavis are amazingly well written heroes that are realistically written and humanly flawed people that I personally would be honored to know in my everyday life. I appreciated that Hal isn't necessarily the `typical' hero. He's older and not glamorously gorgeous, but his sweet disposition and lovely heart made him an extremely attractive hero. I loved how both men actually fell in love with who they were in the inside, and not from physical beauty itself. Another character I loved was Joey. His determination and strength he had throughout the book was inspirational and beautifully written.
I will say that this story is NOT for those who are looking for a lighthearted read. Yes, even though it does end with a happy ending and on a very positive note, Joy of the Season is a very hard book to read at times. I literally cried throughout the book.and I'm not talking about a few tears here and there either. I cried so hard that it startled my dogs and my sweet husband enough for all of them to come see if I was alright. I went through numerous tissues and had to stop reading this story several times so I could take a much needed break.
Now, even though you WILL cry while you read this book, it is also truly a stunning love story. There are many sweet and sexy moments and the love that builds between Hal and Tavis made Joy of the Season one of my favorite reads of all time. I cannot recommend this book highly enough and I'm looking forward to reading more from this amazing author.
Hal Sims runs a non-profit hospice named after his older brother. For ten years, he's thrown himself into running the charity, and keeping his brother's memory alive. Hal doesn't have time for a relationship, especially with a rich golden boy like Tavis Komen.
Tavis Komen wants to change his life, and decides volunteering at Rupert's Legacy is the first step to a better him. Meeting Hal Sims hits Tavis in ways he never planned.
When one of the hospice residents takes a turn for the worse, Tavis and Hal come together to comfort each other, and Tavis shows Hal there is joy to be found in a season that Hal has lost all interest in.