Hello, everyone! Today I’m reviewing my first read of Pride month, When London Snow Falls by Hayden Stone. I’m excited to read a ton of queer books this month (as if I don’t read them all the time… lol), and this was a pretty good start to the month.
Charlie Renfrew is too busy and too broke for a love life. There’s no room in a schedule crammed with university, a full-time job, music, and his very committed relationship with overthinking. Hence the dating ban. Which is exactly when Ben Campbell shows up with his piercings, quirky knits, and indie rock fame. But maybe it’s time for Charlie to trade caffeine for something hotter, blonder, and completely out of his comfort zone.
Gorgeous, funny men don’t happen to Charlie. Not like this. Even if it’s ill-timed and too bloody complicated. But maybe a quick shag won’t hurt…
Sex might be easy, but being vulnerable isn’t. Not for Charlie, his anxiety, or his precarious stack of responsibilities. It would be so easy to fall into Ben’s world of cozy, snowy London where there’s love and sex and possibilities. But Charlie already knows what happens when he goes off course. Not to mention the consequences. And when the snow melts, he’ll have to put his heart back into a deep freeze…
***Thank you to NetGalley and Entangled Publishing for providing a copy of the book! My review contains my honest thoughts about my reading experience.***
I really didn’t like this book at first. It was very insta-lusty, and I found the first meeting of the main characters to be almost painfully awkward rather than cute. On the bright side, the insta-lust led to some pretty steamy scenes early on that kept my interest. lol. The characters had great sexual tension and it made for some really explosive scenes that were fun to read. Then I became a little annoyed at how quickly the insta-lust turned into insta-love, but once their relationship started I just pretended they had been together for a longer period of time. After that adjustment in my mind, I actually enjoyed reading their relationship dynamic as they struggled to make things work despite having very different outlooks, priorities, and life goals.
I was surprised by how good the mental health rep was in this book. Charlie was diagnosed with anxiety and depression, and the author provided a realistic, compelling look at living with those disorders and how they could impact the development of a new relationship. I really enjoyed the depth of his character and getting to experience his growth of learning to love himself and being vulnerable enough to let others love him, as well. The portrayal was so realistic, though, that it made reading from his intensely self-deprecating POV a bit tedious and repetitious at times, which honestly matches what my own lived experience with these disorders has been like. Unfortunately, it didn’t always make for super fun reading, and I wonder if switching up some of the repetitive phrasing might have helped make it easier to get through the tedious parts.
I really liked all of the other characters, especially Emily and Ben. Emily was such a great support for Charlie despite their difficult circumstance. I just loved how she was always in his corner but wasn’t afraid to call him on his BS in ways that were helpful rather than harmful. Ben. What can I say about Ben other than he is the boyfriend that anyone with a mental illness, or just anyone really, needs in their life? He was incredibly supportive and never gave up on Charlie even after Charlie pushed him away multiple times due to his anxiety making him freak out. His patience should make him a saint, especially given how quickly their relationship developed. I wish he had been a little more developed as a character, though, because he came off as somewhat two-dimensional. I think adding in his POV at times would have been helpful in deepening his character and breaking up the repetition of Charlie’s narrative voice.
The plot was pretty repetitive. It was basically just the two main characters getting together and sort of breaking up over and over with some family drama thrown in for background noise. There was also plenty of miscommunication/lack of communication. So, if that or insta-lust/love is not your thing, this probably isn’t the book for you. However, despite not enjoying those tropes, I ended up liking the book and the relationship of the main characters (I think mostly because I found the mental health struggles so relatable…and the author’s ability to write great sexual tension and super steamy scenes didn’t hurt). I was cheering the couple on by the end and even teared up at a couple of moments. Therefore, I rate this one 4 out of 5 stars.