Title ~ Unwrapping Hank
Author ~ Eli Easton
Genre ~ Contemporary M/M Romance
Release date ~ 14th November 2014
Sloane loves a good mystery. He grew up as the son of two psychiatrists, so he finds most people tediously easy to figure out. He finds his way to Pennsylvania State University, longing for a rural experience, and ends up being lured into joining a frat by Micah Springfield, the hippest guy on campus.
Nothing in Sloane’s classes is as intriguing as Hank Springfield, Micah’s brother and fellow frat house member. Hank looks like a tough guy—big muscles, tatts, and a beard—but his eyes are soft and sweet. He acts dumb, but he’s a philosophy major. He’s presumably straight, but then why does Sloane feel such crazy chemistry whenever Hank is around? And why does Hank hate Sloane so much?
When Sloane ends up stuck on campus over Christmas, Micah invites him to spend the holidays at their family farm in Amish country. It’s a chance to experience a true Americana Christmas--and further investigate the mystery that is Hank Springfield. Can Sloane unlock the secrets of this family and unwrap the heart hidden inside the beefcake?
Christmas is coming and with it the steady stream of seasonal stories. Some meh, some okay, some good, some great and some awesome. Guess which category Unwrapping Hank falls for me? I'll give you a big clue....begins with an AWE ...and ends with...SOME. *Grins*
Eli does it again! I loved this novella. Loved everything about it. In fact I had the same feeling about this as I did when I picked up one of my all time favourite reads—Superhero—the first book I ever bought from Ms Easton; the one that made me the fan I am today. Having just read another Christmas story that wowed me, it was a lovely surprise to jump into this one and come away with just as big a smile on my face and just as much love in my heart. Definitely a case of HO, HO, HO and not NO, NO, NO!!!
Once again I was grabbed from the first word and it was another case of disturb me at your peril because once I started, that was it, I was lost to the world. Wallowing in my happy place and raising two fingers to the 'Real Life' going on around me as I got pulled into Sloane and Hanks world.
Told in alternating POV's, which I really like because I always love seeing how two completely different 'voices' and personalities view the same ongoing situation, we see Sloane and Hank start off at major odds with each other but over the course of the story, through the contrivance of Hanks sneaky older brother Micah, grudgingly start to become friends of sorts, which in turn (of course) when the seeds of attraction take root, begins to change into something else! It's an enemies to lovers story that like all its predecessors follows the usual journey and I don't think anyone reading it will be in any doubt as to how it ends, but I always say that it doesn't matter how predictable a storyline is, it's the way the author takes that trope and fashions it to make it feel fresh...like it's something you've never read before and for me Eli Easton manages to do that every time.
College freshman Sloane's physical attraction to yummy, tattooed Hank is instant, the moment he sets eyes on him washing dishes in the kitchen of Delta Sigma Phi the frat house he's pledged to but the reaction he gets back from the hunk of a guy isn't too promising and he gets why when he finds out the big lug is actually Hank Springfield, the younger brother of Micah: president of the Delts, because it's already come to his attention that he was the only guy to vote against Sloane being accepted into the fraternity, giving him the impression that Hank is probably just a homophobic asshole who he'll be quite happy to avoid, thank you very much....only that isn't even an option, as Micah throws them together, with an order to come up with an idea for the frats upcoming Christmas party which they'll then be in charge of putting together as a team. Shock horror! But it's an order neither of them can refuse!! Then later Micah invites Sloane to go home with them to their farm for Christmas because his forever on the move, psychologist parents—who's parenting skills leave a lot to be desired—spring a trip to Israel on him on the last minute, leaving him in the crappy position of being on his own for the holidays. With no other choice other than a very lonely Xmas, he accepts the invitation and so gets to spend time with Micah and Hank's fabulous hippyish mum and dad, who welcome him with open arms and show him just how loving a family really can be together but it also ends up giving him much more of an insight into why Hank is the pain in the ass he thinks he is.
All the way through Hank is a mystery to Sloane, the more he gets to know him, the more of a conundrum he appears to be, and it's while they're at the Springfield home that he begins to realise there's a lot more to him than meets the eye. In fact both Sloane and Hank are a wee bit complex, as the two of them are far more than the sum of the parts we see on the surface. Being able to see it all happening through both their eyes we also get to observe how Hank perceives Sloane and Sloane's influence on his thought processes, which hint that deep down he's not as unaffected by the guy who pushes his buttons, quite as much as he thinks he is.
'Sloane just bugged me.
It bugged me that Micah thought he was so perfect.
It bugged me that nobody else, gay or straight, had a problem with him.
And yeah, it bugged me that he was gay.
It was like, I dunno, like he was available or something. I didn't feel that way about the other gay guys in the frat but with Sloane it was like there was a hot girl in the house. It just...it wasn't right....'
As opposites, they appear to be as incompatible as they ever could be but surprisingly, after a lot of knocking heads, they do find some common ground in the form of old, British TV murder mystery programs which becomes a turning part in their reluctant partnership and a link that starts to bring them closer in the relationship stakes. As separate personalities I liked them a lot...as a prospective couple I was in love with the idea of them getting together...by the time they started to get closer I was totally smitten... but when the inevitable finally happened that was it! Adoration had set in and I was a goner!! Male romance heaven!
As far as angst levels go it's not particularly heavily laced with it, as the premise is more of a romantic comedy but what this diamond of a seasonal story does have is an AWFUL lot of heart and it's that which gives us moments of tenderness and poignancy that evoke real emotional reactions. I don't know what's in the water at the moment but I've been moved to tears in a lot of my recent reads and this was no exception. Amongst the funny bits and the witty banter, that had me constantly grinning, there were these warm, touching interludes included, that made it a much meatier, more meaningful experience. Another thing that always amazes me is how tummy tingling, Eli's books are. Queen of the sexual tension, she makes us wait for the love scenes but it's only when you look back that you realise that she's done that, because the on page electricity and constant awareness of each other that she creates, means you don't miss them. When the sex arrives it's always hot and deliciously satisfying and in my opinion all the more sizzling for the delay but it's the chemistry and connection she generates, and that 'will they/won't they' feeling of anticipation, that to be honest not everyone gets right when they do this style of love/hate tale. I'm a ST freak, I love it in my m/m romances and the way it happens between these guys was exactly what I was looking for. So good!
I have to admit I do love a Christmas story but I'm not one for too much 'Hallmark' sentimentality. Too sweet and mushy, with lots of cute Santa moments, eggnog and precocious kids setting up their dads isn't really my bag, I'll admit some can be enjoyable in small doses but it's these sorts of smart, quick witted, funny, heart felt stories that really ring my Xmas bells and have me Fa La La'ing and happy dancing! What works for me is the fact that I can pull this up at any time of year and still feel like I've read a cracking contemporary romance without the teeth rotting, sugar overload of a thousand candy canes, and that puts this way high in my most favourite Christmas stories ever... and of course a Kindle keeper. Come to think about it most of my well loved Christmas books are Eli Easton ones so that's why I can wholeheartedly recommend this as a Christmas present to yourself. Download it now and just pretend Father Christmas came early. Hahaha....Plus you save on wrapping...how cool is that!
Buy it Here
Micah and Lilith took me on a tour of the farm. Grinch padded along after me like he was tethered to my ankle by bungee cord. We started in the barn. There was a big stall in the back that was open to a fenced pasture. I could see a few tan-colored cows out nosing through the snow to get grass. Micah whistled, and they looked up. One of them started trotting over eagerly. The other two followed.
Micah climbed over the gate and greeted the approaching thousand-plus-pound animal with no fear.
“Hey, True!” The animal—definitely a she—stopped in front of Micah and rubbed her jaw against him like a cat. He was smiling an all-out sunny smile as he scratched her chin and shoulder. “Hey, baby. How’s it goin’?”
The other two cows showed up, and Micah tried to give them attention too, but the first one, True, wasn’t having it, trying to push her way into Micah’s hands.
“Wow, I had no idea cows could be so tame,” I commented. Then again, I’d never been close to a cow.
“Oh, Trueheart was born here on the farm, and the boys helped with her birth. They about petted her to death when she was a calf, so she got used to it,” Lilith explained.
“She’s certainly not shy.” Weren’t cows supposed to be meek and mild? These ladies were rather pushy with each other and with Micah, like toddlers in a sandbox.
“Nope. Not at all. Micah?” she called out. “You’re on morning milking this trip.”
“Ouch!” Micah held his side like she’d just stabbed him, but he didn’t really seem to mind.
“You milk them?” I asked, surprised.
Lilith laughed. “Yes, Sloane. That’s why we keep them. We get milk, and sometimes we raise a beef cow too. We don’t have one right now, though.”
“Hey, Sloane, come meet the girls.”
I wasn’t entirely sure about that, but it would be embarrassing to act afraid of a dairy cow, especially since I was studying to become a vet. I climbed over the gate trying to mimic the casual cowboy way Micah had done it. Grinch, being much smarter than I was, stayed on the human side of the gate.
“Here.” Micah pulled me closer by my coat and took my hand. The cows were ignoring me, all fixated on Micah or each other, and when Micah put my hand on True’s jaw, she gave me a suspicious look. After a lengthy flat stare from big brown eyes, she nudged into my hand as if demanding I pet her harder.
“Scratch her chin. She likes that.” Micah said.
“Sure, she does. Who doesn’t?” I joked as I scratched her strong jawline. “Maybe you can do this for me after supper.”
“Maybe.” Micah gave me a weird smile.
“So you really know how to milk a cow, huh?”
“Yeah. What, you don’t?” Micah asked with mock seriousness.
I bent down to look at True’s swollen teats. God, those suckers were like four inches long. “Not really my area.”
Micah laughed. “No? You mean you won’t do that for me after supper?”
I choked on some spit and coughed. What the fuck? Did he just imply what I thought he did?
Micah pounded me on the back. “Kidding, Gregore. Come on, let’s finish the tour.”
Meet the Author
Having been, at various times and under different names, a minister’s daughter, a computer programmer, a game designer, the author of paranormal mysteries, a fan fiction writer, an organic farmer and a profound sleeper, Eli is happily embarking on yet another incarnation as a m/m romance author.
As an avid reader of such, she is tinkled pink when an author manages to combine literary merit, vast stores of humor, melting hotness and eye-dabbing sweetness into one story. She promises to strive to achieve most of that most of the time. She currently lives on a farm in Pennsylvania with her husband, three bulldogs, three cows and six chickens. All of them (except for the husband) are female, hence explaining the naked men that have taken up residence in her latest fiction writing.
You can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org
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