Book Reviews

The Mature Man's Guide to Surviving Change (2017 Advent Calendar - Stocking Stuffers) by Chris Scully at Dreamspinner Press

Genre Gay / Contemporary / Romance / Holiday
Reviewed by Serena Yates on 06-December-2017

Book Blurb

In the sunny playground of Palm Springs, growing up was something confirmed bachelor and bad-boy chef Joel avoided at all costs—until a close friend’s death made him reevaluate his priorities. Ever since, he’s been dedicated to helping his widowed friend Perry get back on his feet by teaching him to cook and providing a shoulder to cry on. But when Perry announces that he’s ready to start dating again and then begins receiving gifts from an anonymous secret Santa, Joel is forced to confront the feelings he’s suppressed for so long.


As Joel struggles with jealousy and guilt amid the holiday season, he must decide if he’s ready to grow up and reach for what he’s always wanted but never thought he could have.



A story from the Dreamspinner Press 2017 Advent Calendar "Stocking Stuffers."

Book Review

Change is hard at any age, at least for some people. As I was reading this story I had a sneaky suspicion that Joel, a self-employed, hardworking chef in his fifties, would not have responded well to having to deal with his feelings for Perry at any age. Yes, he blames his specific issues on being older, but there are other factors, both objective and subjective, that contribute to his resistance. And as frustrating as it was for me to have to deal with Joel’s (mostly idiotic) excuses, I could see where he is coming from. These complications make ‘The Mature Man’s Guide to Surviving Change’ as much a character study and a psychological analysis as a festive romance with obstacles.

Joel is not really a mature man – mentally, I mean. He may be in his fifties, but he has never been one for commitment or for settling down. He still wants to have his cake and eat it – he has a serious crush, if not more, for Perry, but he can’t get himself to do anything about it. Guilt is part of it, fear of rejection is another, and then there is the issue of what might happen to their very close friendship, one Joel values a lot, if he messes up. He wants Perry all to himself and gets insanely jealous when another guy approaches Perry, never mind the secret Santa who keeps heaping gifts on Perry. This contradiction – wanting Perry but being afraid to admit it and wanting everyone else to stay away – almost drives Joel and Perry apart.

The back-and-forth as events unfold and both Joel and Perry deal with their feelings might make you crazy, but the issues are very real and, given these two men and their history, I actually found them credible. Doesn’t mean I quietly sat and read this tale, on the contrary, I yelled at Joel to grow up more than once. It’s a sign that I was involved and wanted these two guys to succeed, so I have to say that I found this story interesting as well as frustrating. And while a lot of the mood was not very Christmas-y (other than the setting and the general theme), the final resolution definitely is!

If you like Christmas stories with angst, conflict, and emotional issues, if you want to see two men in their fifties deal with a major life change, and if you’re looking for a read that might be as frustrating as it is sweet (in the end) then you might like this novella.





DISCLAIMER: Books reviewed on this site were usually provided at no cost by the publisher or author. This book has been provided by Dreamspinner Press for the purpose of a review.

Additional Information

Format ebook
Length Novella, 59 pages/18791 words
Heat Level
Publication Date 01-December-2017
Price $3.99 ebook
Buy Link