Kinder Thane lost his life partner three years ago and ever since, has folded into himself. He doesn’t speak to friends and only sees his family once a year. Every year on the anniversary of Leland’s death, he spends his time with the ghost of his dead boyfriend.
When Jessie Riley moves in across the hall, it sends his entire existence into a flurry. Suddenly there’s life out there, happiness, the joy of the holidays, and it’s so shocking he almost doesn’t know what to do with it. It gets to be too much but before he can pull back inside and go back to the way he was, Leland has a final gift for him, one that changes everything.
How do you go on when the love of your life is taken away from you and on your favorite holiday no less?
Kinder Thane is existing, not living, since his partner of 10 years Leland was killed by a drunk driver on his way home from work on Christmas Eve 3 years ago. He locks himself in the apartment they shared waits for Leland’s ghost to show up and talk to him.
Something is different this year, Leland says that Thane must begin living again. Suddenly a loud noise is heard, as Thane rushes out of his apartment he finds his new neighbor Jesse on the ground with a large lump on his head. A great relationship begins.
Leland asked Thane for a single promise, that on New Year’s Eve he make a final toast.
Leland’s Final Gift is an emotionally touching story, it is what everyone who has ever lost someone hopes to find. There is humor and sadness and healing, all packed in this shot novella.
Having just finished a book that ripped my heart out and left me a sobbing mess, I needed a sweet romance to cheer up my broken heart. So I flipped through my December reading list and saw that I had Leland’s Final Gift in my queue and thought “Perfect! Durston’s male-male romances always warm my heart and its shortened length and Christmas theme should guarantee a tear-free read.” Yeah, no. Rest assured, my heart was warmed, but my eyes were not tear free. My mistake was in not reading the blurb again before starting the novelette. Had I done so and realized that Kinder would be spending time with the ghost of his dead partner, I would have been prepared for the tears. Despite my oversight, I loved this book and it was a great holiday read.
Not rereading the blurb meant I was a bit shocked when Kinder’s haste to get inside his apartment was met with the ghost of his life partner. The love between the two was obvious and is why I wasn’t the least bit surprised at the incident that occurred after Leland said he would have to take matters into his own hands in order to force Kinder to move on with his life. It’s also what had me cheering for Kinder as he embraced the holiday season in order to make his new neighbor’s Christmas a happy one despite its less than enjoyable beginning. Because of the novelette’s length, we don’t see all of the time that Kinder and Jessie spend together over the week, but that didn’t keep me from feeling the bond forming between the two men. Despite an unexpectedly gut-wrenching request made by Jessie, Thane’s (slightly wavering) determination to fulfill Leland’s final request led to an awesome New Year’s Eve date and his awareness of what Leland’s final gift was to him. I will admit that I was a little surprised that the physical intimacies were limited to kissing, but it actually worked well for the story as the focus was on Kinder healing and learning to live again. I thought the Epilogue was perfect and my only actual complaint is that the book wasn’t longer. But then, I’m a huge fan of Durston’s writing and her books are never long enough for me, no matter their actual length. Leland’s Final Gift was a wonderful holiday read and I do hope the author gets bitten by the Kinder-bug in the future and we get more of this couple’s story.