Title: Light Me Up
Author: James Buchanan
Cover Artist: Deana C. Jamroz
Publisher: MLR Press
Genre: Contemporary M/M, holiday
Length: short story/26 pages/3+K words
Rating: 4.25 stars out of 5
Review Summary: A holiday story with a difference – a frolic in the snow with Kabe and Deputy Joe which demonstrates that tree cutting can be lots of fun if you play the game right.
Two hot guys and one cold mountain. Just how far can mouthy, yet submissive, Kabe push his favorite deputy, Joe, before he gets what he really wants? The Christmas tree may be the goal, but it’s not the prize. Walk in Kabe’s boots for his and Joe’s first Christmas together.
If you have read any of James Buchanan’s books with Deputy Joe and his lover Kabe you will know that this is no regular couple living in the Utah backwoods, and Kabe is no ordinary adrenaline junky submissive. In fact Kabe delights in topping from the bottom, which is very much in evidence in Light Me Up. I reviewed Hard Fall almost 3 years ago when I first met ex con Kabe Varghese and Deputy Joe Peterson, a Mormon lawmaker whose sexual orientation was at odds with his religion and his job. They reprised their love affair in Spin Out reviewed by Feliz 6 months ago and now they are celebrating the holidays with their usual push and pull.
It was a week after Thanksgiving and the snow was blanketing the area which was new for Kabe who had lived in the Castro in San Francisco most of his life. Snow made him think of Christmas trees. He suggested to Joe how wonderful a tree would look in his house under the window adorned with presents and decorations, but Joe wanted no part of it because presents were not exactly on the top of his list. The adults in his family didn’t exchange presents and he couldn’t see what the big deal was. But Kabe wouldn’t let it go, he was like a dog with a bone. He badly wanted a Christmas tree. His Grams had sent him a box with the decorations he used to put on his tree at home in California which made him feel the need even more, and if Joe wasn’t up for one he would do his best to convince him. He couldn’t stop hinting and getting their friends involved in his plan. Be careful what you wish for.
Kabe was in bed one morning all tucked in and warm when Joe showed up at 4.00 A.M. and dragged him out into the bitterly cold wintry air. Seems he was tired of all the hints and was going to give Kabe what he wanted – a Christmas tree – but first they would have to trek into the forest in the mountains to chop it down with an ax and then drag the tree back to their truck. No namby pamby tree from the lot for Joe – if he was going to get one it would have to be the real deal. This was an adventure that Kabe would never forget and maybe next Christmas he would think twice, even though it would be helpful to him in his ongoing studies towards a degree in Environmental Management.
As usual James Buchanan’s writing was crisp and fresh and the world building was wonderfully crafted. In addition to being a fun frolic in the forest this story was an ecological lesson for me on how to take care of our natural resources. I had no idea what was involved in finding the right tree, one that wasn’t protected, and how to cut it down. But most of all this story was about Kabe and Joe being themselves in the outdoors in freezing temperatures, and maybe sucking on a Popsicle or two.
Light Me Up is told in Kabe’s voice which is quite different from Joe’s and I was pleasantly surprised at his sense of humour and I loved his appreciation for the natural beauty around him . It was amazing how much information about Utah was packed into this very short story, and Kabe’s sense of wonder as he looked around the forest showed how impressed he was, apart from the tree cutting exercise. Joe indulging his man in his own fashion by not making it out to be a big deal, was really endearing.
If you liked Hard Fall and Spin Out you will love this Christmas short, with the guys celebrating the holidays in their own way. There’s no crime to be solved just a revelation of their relationship especially how far it had come since they met. There were no fights or misunderstandings, just their love for each other. Joe was Joe but I saw another side of him that made me realize how much he really cared for Kabe and as for Kabe, Deputy Joe would always be the man of his dreams.
I loved this story and I hope you do too if you pick up Light Me Up.