Better Not Pout by Annabeth Albert
Published: November 12, 2018 by Carina Press
Genre: LGBTQ+ Contemporary Romance
One hard-nosed military police officer.
One overly enthusiastic elf.
One poorly timed snowstorm.
Is it a recipe for disaster? Or a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for holiday romance?
Teddy MacNally loves Christmas and everything that goes along with it. When he plays an elf for his charity’s events, he never expects to be paired with a Scrooge masquerading as Santa Claus. His new mission: make the holiday-hating soldier believe he was born to say ho-ho-ho.
Sergeant Major Nicholas Nowicki doesn’t do Santa, but he’s army to his blood. When his CO asks an unusual favor, Nick of course obliges. The elf to his Kris Kringle? Tempting. Too tempting—Nick’s only in town for another month, and Teddy’s too young, too cheerful and too nice for a one-night stand.
The slow, sexy make-out sessions while Teddy and Nick are alone and snowbound, though, feel like anything but a quick hookup. As a stress-free holiday fling turns into Christmas all year round, Teddy can’t imagine his life without Nick. And Nick’s days on the base may be coming to a close, but he doesn’t plan on leaving anything, or anyone, behind.
Better Not Pout starts out a bit slow but things pick up as Nick and Teddy spend more time together. I loved the sense of community that Teddy’s town has and the McNally family seems like a lot of fun if a bit overwhelming (I’m an only child). From the very beginning I loved Teddy’s character — his enthusiasm for the holidays and helping people, his welcoming attitude and his dedication to his town. It’s clear that Teddy has made a home for himself and he’s truly loved by his community. It was refreshing to see a small town not be critical of an LGBTQ character and instead love them for exactly who they were.
While I really enjoyed Teddy, I struggled more with Nick who I felt was somewhat flat throughout the story. Initially he’s set up as a bit of a grinch — he doesn’t really want to play Santa, he’s set in his ways, used to being in control, and he keeps others at a distance, especially since he’s leaving town in a month. As he starts a fling with Teddy he begins to open up and realize just how lonely his life has been since his last serious relationship. While we understand his background and I thought his history was well developed, Nick’s personality remains so steady that it was like he paled in comparison to every other character; he just didn’t feel all that dynamic. Overall, this was an enjoyable read but I didn’t feel myself all that invested in Teddy and Nick’s relationship.
**Reader Safety: Discussion of losing a sibling to accidental death
3 stars – it was good
ARC provided by NetGalley for honest review