Snow & Winter: Book One
It’s Christmas, and all antique dealer Sebastian Snow wants is for his business to make money and to save his floundering relationship with closeted CSU detective, Neil Millett. When Snow’s Antique Emporium is broken into and a heart is found under the floorboards, Sebastian can’t let the mystery rest.
He soon finds himself caught up in murder investigations that echo the macabre stories of Edgar Allan Poe. To make matters worse, Sebastian’s sleuthing is causing his relationship with Neil to crumble, while at the same time he’s falling hard for the lead detective on the case, Calvin Winter. Sebastian and Calvin must work together to unravel the mystery behind the killings, despite the mounting danger and sexual tension, before Sebastian becomes the next victim.
In the end, Sebastian only wants to get out of this mess alive and live happily ever after with Calvin.
I really enjoyed probably the first quarter of this book. I mean, I liked Sebastian’s voice throughout the story, I just started rolling my eyes at the characters’ actions and it significantly lessened my enjoinment of the later parts. So, the blurb correctly describes the set up – for the most part anyway, because not once did I feel that Sebastian actually *wanted* to save his relationship with Neal, but everything else seems to be accurate. We have um, bookseller (sorry – antique dealer) with um, heart’s condition (sorry – eyes’ condition) who lives with closeted detective. Seriously, I am guessing the writer quite deliberately made a choice to invoke memories of Adrien English and Jake from Josh Lanyon’s series considering that the book has a dedication to “Josh, master of mystery who helped me find my own voice again”. If the choice to invoke those associations was not deliberate, well, it happened to me anyway.
So, Neil comes to his store and together with his assistant they find a heart there. They call detectives of course and Sebastian sees Calvin and really likes what he sees. But Sebastian has Neil at home and Neil comes to the store as well, when Sebastian calls him, but does not want anybody to know that they are together and says that they are friends.
It looks like that the main reason why Sebastian and Neil are fighting is because Sebastian does not want to be Neil’s secret anymore. Now, when I see this conflict in the book I always say the same thing – I am a straight woman, I cannot judge it. I can say that I always felt that it is nobody’s business but this character whether to come out of closet or not, and on his own terms. Having said that, I respect that Sebastian wanted the relationship out in the open - I just could not help but feel that he was being a bit of an ass towards Neil and author wanted me to feel bad for poor Sebastian. Walk away Sebastian if you feel that strongly no? But once again besides connecting or not connecting with the characters emotionally, I do not feel like I could not agree or disagree with their choices.
So, you could probably guess that discovery of the heart was just the beginning and soon Sebastian stumbles upon a murder and becomes kind of a suspect for a little bit, police is asking him for an alibi and he tells them that he was home with the boyfriend and gives them Neil’s name. Basically he effectively outs Neil at work. Did I feel he was being an ass? Absolutely, but he thought he would be arrested otherwise. Should he get a pass on that? I have no idea. Anyway, Neil is pissed and finally walks out. Sebastian tells him that if he walks out, he would change the locks, but the way I interpreted his mood is that he was relieved whether he would admit it to himself or not.
This is all happens in the first fifteen – twenty percent of the book and then somewhere in the twenty percent range Calvin pays Sebastian a visit again, asks him case related questions, tells him that he could be connected to murders and then… offers to suck him off. No, really he does.
So, I just want to note for the record – since that moment any time Calvin was going on about official police business I pictured him in the clown suit, I could not take him seriously anymore. Look, I figured they were going to get together, blurb was pretty clear on that point, but could have the author create a better timing? Maybe when Sebastian was not officially a suspect anymore?! Even Sebastian himself seemed shocked. He was happy, but shocked too. He was thinking something along the lines – one second I am accused of murder and another I am getting the best blowjob ever. Eh, good for you Sebastian?
Also please note that all of this happens while Ross and Rachel (sorry Sebastian and Neil) were on a break and did not officially break up yet. The cheating aspect did not bother me one bit, I thought the author actually established quite well that Sebastian had enough of his relationship and as much as I thought he was a little bit of an ass about pushing Neil out of closet, Neil did not seem to be very kind to him either. I thought it was clear that those two would be better apart than together, but if any kind of cheating bothers you please beware.
I was pleased that Sebastian admitted to himself very fast that he indeed cheated and he at least did not lie to Neil at all, I was glad when they parted and hope it was permanent.
I thought Calvin’s and Sebastian’s attraction developed very fast. This is book one so I hope they will have time to develop more meaningful relationship and hopefully a little less of “sweetie and baby” – this is just a personal preference of course, but especially “sweetie” grated on me.
I was also pleased to hear that Sebastian was self- aware enough to realize that he substituted one closeted detective for another, so maybe Neil being closeted was not a real issue? Although at the end Calvin makes a step out of the closet, so maybe it was a real issue? I don’t know.
The mystery plot is very much related to Edgar Allan Poe’s books and I will let you find out all about the mystery if you decide to read the book. It was entertaining enough, but I thought suspect was pretty obvious (not because of anything he did plot wise, but because of how he was introduced) and I thought red herring suspect was a little clumsily done.
I also want to share that at the end of mystery investigation Sebastian showed some exceptional stupidity. I was perfectly okay with him getting involved in police investigation simply because when I see that the book contains civilian sleuth, I go into the book with the mindset of suspending disbelief on this issue already. But this also could be done more or less believably and preferably without making sleuth look like a total idiot. So, you decide .
When he has a revelation who the murderer is, he decides to go to the gathering where murderer would be *several hours later* to catch him alone. He cannot call Calvin (despite Calvin asking him several times to come to him with everything new about the case), because he is afraid that murderer (who is not a policeman or a former Marine, recipient of Medal of Honor) will come after Calvin (who is a policeman and a former Marine, recipient of Medal of Honor) and hurt him. I guess the thought of asking other cops to come and check out the gathering did not enter Sebastian’s head. He also has time to go into Calvin’s apartment before gathering and writes his thoughts about who the murderer is so Calvin could catch him if Sebastian ends up dead. The thought of murderer coming after Calvin when Sebastian would be dead is not so worry-some anymore?