Although it's set at Christmas, it's basically a life swap gay romance about taking two people away from familiar surroundings to find a whole new life they didn't realise they wanted.
It's inspired by the wonderful film, The Holiday because I love everything about it and I'd always wondered if I could write a life swap gay romance. And then I did, and here it is. My favourite part of the whole review is the last two sentences. They make me smile.
Anyway, here's the lovely review from Ulysses:
One of the best things about being tapped into the LGBTQ writing community is that we get to enjoy holiday specials, just like on TV! I always set aside my Kindle backlog to read Christmas (and Solstice) stories and novellas. The holidays are fraught with all sorts of emotional complications, and it’s lovely to have reading material (other than Dicken’s “A Christmas Carol”) to remind us that we’re all in a similar boat at this time of year.
Liam Livings is a young author whose books I watch for. He has a distinctive voice, and I like that. He writes about the world he knows, and that gives his readers insight into something vividly real. “A New Life for Christmas” takes two young men, one in Miami Beach, one in Lyndhurst, England, and through the miracle of the internet, allows them to trade homes for a Christmas holiday.
Kyle is co-owner of a successful South Beach gay bar and nightclub. He is suffering the aftereffects of an ugly break-up and pondering his inability to form relationships. Oliver, nestled into his prosperous antiques shop on the high street of his small country town, has just been hugely embarrassed by the sudden heterosexual marriage of his friend and neighbor, about whom he had harbored romantic fantasies for years. Both men are looking for something completely different.
The complications begin when Oliver meets Mark, a pianist who has played in Kyle’s club; and Kyle meets Oliver’s best friend Edward. Kyle and Oliver are very different people, but both of them are stuck, hiding behind the familiar in order to avoid emotional pain. What Livings lays out for us (and for the gay readers, it will all feel very familiar, since we’ve all been through it) is no less than the immemorial conflict between life and love; the need for romance battling the practical realities of getting on and keeping one’s routine in order.
What I rather loved about this novella is that the solution is ultimately unveils isn’t remotely tidy or pat. It is romantic, but it is messy and fraught with risk and hinges on Kyle and Oliver’s willingness to trust someone else when their trust has been badly shaken before.
I confess I got rather weepy several times in the story – which is totally appropriate because weeping is a topic that comes up in significant ways in Livings’ narrative. The point is, even after 41 years (as of this New Year’s Eve) and two children, I still remember the emotional traumas of my 20s. I remember the risk of commitment, and the uncertainty of attaching my star to another man’s life. From my current perspective, it all seems fated; but from Kyle, Oliver, Mark and Edward’s viewpoints, not so much.
I love reading about gay vampires and werewolves; I love fantasies with LGBTQ characters and action-packed adventures in which queer people become heroes. But I also love to read about the kind of reality that most fiction in the world today ignores. Liam Livings has a gift for this kind of reality, and I hope he continues writing it for those among us who cherish it.