Title: Winter Solstice in St. Nacho’s
Series: St. Nacho’s: Book Five
Author: Z.A. Maxfield
Publisher: Amazon/Kindle Unlimited
Length: 296 Pages
Category: Contemporary Romance
Rating: 3.5 Stars
At a Glance: Winter in St. Nacho’s was more a sentimental trip back to the magical coastal California town than a flawless read, but the story’s overall message of hope and second chances comes through loud and clear, which helped with the suspension of belief along the way.
Reviewed By: Lisa
Blurb: Can a winter solstice miracle bring Luke and Tug a second chance at love, or will Tug’s dangerous addiction destroy their happiness forever?
Librarian Luke believes “Everything is possible at the library.” He cheerfully provides his patrons with whatever they need, even if that means administering Naloxone when they overdose in the library bathroom.
Tug’s a heroin addict. He’s in the grip of a powerful addiction. He has no self-esteem. He sees no way out. When old crush Luke offers help, Tug’s willing to see what he can get out of the deal. But there’s a terrible cost to exploring his painful past and claiming his second chance.
Miracles happen for the men of St. Nacho’s. Will Tug seize a new life and the chance to be with Luke? Or will he give in to the siren’s song of a drug he can’t resist?
Review: It’s been a long spell for me between visits to Santo Ignacio, California, the small coastal town that somehow knows its own and weaves its spell around those who belong there. St. Nacho’s, as it’s been dubbed by its residents, is a community built around love and the belief of goodness and kindness and generosity, and in the acceptance of everyone who lays roots there, which makes it not only a diverse place to live but a lovely setting for a Yule romance, and I appreciated how Z.A. Maxfield used the Winter Solstice as the metaphor to tell the story of a man who’s reached the depths of his personal darkness, and then goes on to find his light.
Winter Solstice in St. Nacho’s deals with the difficult topic of drug addiction, taking on the ways in which society fails in its approach to addiction and also in how societal attitudes so often fail the recovering addict, though it doesn’t explore the subject too deeply. This is a romance, after all, which means that while things are by no means simple, they still feel simplified for the sake of advancing the relationship between its MCs, Tug and Luke. At its heart, this is a story about second chances—in this case, a second chance at life as well as love—and family, but it’s wound up in the more complex struggle of Tug’s addiction and finding a healthy way to build a relationship from a decidedly unhealthy start.
Tug comes far too close to OD-ing on the bathroom floor of the public library where Luke works, and it’s only thanks to Luke’s preparedness and quick actions that prevent Tug from succeeding in killing himself. There is a bit of serendipity at play in the story, in that Luke knows Tug from years ago; between that and the fact that Luke is an exceedingly caring and compassionate man, he takes it upon himself to make sure Tug has access to the help he needs, but only on Tug’s terms and only as long as he wants that help.
A good bit of the storyline is given to that subject, in fact—the consent that means Tug is in control of how his recovery progresses, and that he gets to say whether Luke is a part of it. The topics of co-dependency and enabling also come into play, as does the significant pitfalls and questioning the prudence of a relationship that started and then builds around Tug’s addiction, giving a passing nod to Tug’s willingness to con Luke if it’s to his own advantage, which goes hand in hand with Luke’s ability to trust that Tug isn’t playing him at every turn. It’s complicated, to say the least, but again, while I feel that some of it was likely simplified for the sake of the romance, there is still some emotional heft to it as well.
Readers who aren’t familiar with Santo Ignacio and all her little quirks and charms may not want to try reading this one as a standalone. Fans of the original St. Nacho’s series, and its companion series, Men of St. Nacho’s (which I have yet to read), however, will recognize some of the places, names, and faces that show up in this book, which was more sentimental for me than this being my idea of a flawless story. Expectations being what they are, if you go into this one understanding that some things are touched on but might not be explored in what would be considered a realistic way, done for the sake of the romance, Winter Solstice in St. Nacho’s offers up a nostalgic check-in with this magical little town and the promise of recovery and new beginnings.
You can buy Winter Solstice in St. Nacho’s here:
[zilla_button url=”https://smarturl.it/wintersolsticeZAM” style=”black” size=”large” type=”round” target=”_blank”] Amazon/Kindle Unlimited [/zilla_button]