It's two weeks before Christmas, and the official Santa Claus of the small town of Yuleboro is retiring. The town takes Christmas seriously, with year-round celebrations, themed diners and guesthouses, and a Santa Claus who makes regular public appearances.
Fifty-something bookstore owner Gregory has long dreamed of taking over the role. However, he's far from the only one. Grandfather and tree farmer John has been waiting his whole life for this opportunity and plans to seize it with both hands, despite objections from his daughter.
Alongside a host of other competitors, they’ll battle their way through a tournament designed to test the skills of any would-be Kris Kringles, and find it takes more than a belly and a beard to wear the red suit. As Gregory and John go head to head in the town’s first-ever Great Santa Showdown, will it be more than just the competition that heats up?
At the rear of the store, two lamps lit two plush, plum-colored couches. The couches had seen better days, with worn cushions and more than a few little rips here and there, but nothing made Gregory happier than seeing readers ensconced in them for the afternoon with a good book.
He popped a hardback copy of A Christmas Carol and Other Stories into a paper bag and handed it to a customer. “A good choice,” he said. “Happy Holidays.”
At the door, Floyd stood aside to let the customer leave. He took off his red-and-white striped bobble hat and handed over a piece of paper. “Have you seen this?”
Gregory read it, mouth agape. Under a photo of John looking -- to be fair -- amazing, were the words, Vote John Fox for Santa. The wise man’s choice.
Gregory’s eyes narrowed. “Where did you get this?”
“Right outside,” Floyd said. “He’s handing them out to everyone.”READ MORE
Gregory brushed past him and stormed out of the bookstore, waving the flyer over his head. Across the street, John was riding around on the back of a vintage pickup truck decked out to look like a sleigh.
“This is cheating!” Gregory said.
John smiled at him. “That’s a very serious accusation.”
“It’s cheating and you know it.”
John banged on the side of the truck, and the driver -- a man around John’s age wearing reindeer antlers -- slowed to a stop.
Gregory peered in and recognized Seamus Byrne, the owner of the Jolly Olde Lodge, so he smiled and waved. Then he remembered that he was angry.
John lowered the trunk flap and hopped out. “There’s nothing in the rules against canvassing for support.”
“It’s ... it’s ...”
“It’s against the spirit of the competition,” Gregory said. “Which, I might add, doesn’t even start until tomorrow?”
John smiled and handed out a flyer to a passer-by. “The competition started the moment we signed our names on that form, and you know it.”
Gregory’s dander was up and that meant his tongue became untethered. “You’re too short to be Santa.”
John’s eyes flashed and his soft cheeks flushed. He pulled the Santa hat from his head and squared up to the much-taller Gregory. “I’m not too short,” he said. “I’m five-eight!”
“You’re five-five in heels,” Gregory said.
“Pah. If anything, you’re too tall! Santa Claus is an elf.”
Gregory bellowed out a laugh. “Santa’s not an elf!”
John held up one finger. “Come with me.” He beckoned Gregory to the bookshop. Floyd had been watching from the doorway and quickly stepped aside to let them in.
John looked along the holiday section -- an entire bookcase holding nothing but volumes with red or green covers -- pulled out a copy of ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas and opened it. “It says right there that Santa Claus arrives on, and I quote, a miniature sleigh pulled by eight tiny reindeer. And, and, he was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf. It says it right there. Elf.” John slapped the book closed and put on what must surely have been his smuggest smile. “Santa Claus is an elf.”
“He’s got you there,” Floyd said.
Gregory crossed his arms and sniffed. “That’s not canon.”
John frowned. “I beg your pardon?”
“It’s not canon. It’s not official Santa Claus lore. It’s ... fanfiction.”
John rolled his eyes. “I’m leaving. You can keep the flyer. When I’m voted in, I’ll sign it for you. To Gregory, you’re getting a lump of coal this year. Love, Santa.”
He grinned and let the door slam close behind him, vigorously tinkling the little bell above.
Stockings stuffed with paperbacks hung from the store counter on which Gregory now leaned his forehead and groaned. “Maybe I should just let him have it. I can’t compete with this.” He crumpled up John’s flyer and threw it into the waste paper basket.
“Oh, please,” Floyd said. “One little flyer isn’t going to win the competition. All you need to do is get on his good side. Make friends with him, you’re good at that.”
Gregory lifted his head. “I am?”
“Of course! Making friends is what you do! So get on his good side, get his guard down, then when he least expects it, throw him under the bus. Or under the sleigh, I guess.”
Gregory’s cheeks puffed out, quite of their own accord. “I can’t do that!”
“Sure you can!” Floyd patted Gregory’s wide chest. “You can do anything you set your mind to, big guy.”
“I mean I won’t do it.” Gregory crossed his heavy arms.
“Give me one good reason why not.”
“Because it’s ... it’s ...”
Gregory snorted. “It’s not what Santa Claus would do.”COLLAPSE
ofbooksandbourbon on Goodreads wrote:
Title – The Great Santa Showdown
Author – Glenn Quigley
Publisher - JMS Books
Publication date - 10th December 2022
Series - Standalone
Genre - Romance
Representation - LGBTQIA+ characters, Black, Disabled
Stars - ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
I have never read an mm romance with older characters before so this was a welcome change. I guess the oldest an mlm character has been in any of the books that I've read was 25, maybe younger. Just reading about people either in my age group or younger because I generally drift towards their stories.
The story is set in a place that was a winter wonderland with Christmas getting celebrated year around. I enjoyed reading about the place and what was situated where, mentioned as tiny nuggets here and there in the story. The description to Gregory's bookshop was so well done, I could imagine how the place looked like without any efforts. The reason for why it was named what it was named was very thoughtful. And John's Christmas farm was chef's kiss. From the bookshop and farm to the entire town as a whole, the story really is a visual treat.
Black, atheist and gay, Gregory was everything that Santa shouldn't be, religiously speaking. And that's exactly why I became interested in him and his journey of getting his dream job. Will he be denied outright on religious grounds? Will he face discrimination? Will he be out of the race even before registering himself for it?
There were a handful of light-hearted scenes here and there, especially the banter between John and Gregory. Loved it. And no, I didn't know that Santa was an elf although I have questioned why he only had elves for helpers. Guess I finally have my answer, thanks to John. It had its share of emotional moments, especially Colin's speech towards the end of the story. John's reason to become Santa had me teary-eyed and so did Gregory's. I shed tears a couple of times throughout the story.
I loved Colin from the very beginning, the way he came up and explained the procedure of getting a new Santa to the young kids was sweet. Thank you Colin for being Santa. You were definitely worthy.
ay for the representation: Gay (MLM to be precise) ✅ Older men ✅ Black ✅ Wheelchair user ✅ WLW ✅ Pansexual (or let's just not put any labels to the person) ✅
There was the slightest hint of magic towards the end but it never materialized into anything. The same thing crossed my mind when I read what Colin told about himself, what Gregory later doubted but of course the author didn't give us an exact answer. Mean 😒
The last scene, or the last couple of scenes to be precise, reminded me of the advertisement from Norwegian postel services, Posten, that came out last Christmas season about a man asking for Santa to be his Christmas present. I can't tell you how many times I have cried watching it. It's basically a short film. And although it has nothing to do with this story, including the storyline, there still are some similarities - these two are about two older men, there is slow burn and Santa falls in love with a man in both of them
A sweet and cozy low angst slow burn mm rivals to lovers clean romance, this book was exactly what I needed. And yay to Santa being gay. Fast-paced and unputdownable, this was a quick read for me. Would love to read more by the author. Flying colours.
The Great Santa Showdown is the perfect cozy Christmas novella with the small-town feel, low angst, rivals to lovers and plenty of feels!!
Santa is a big deal in Yuleboro the current Santa is retiring. John and Gregory have both longed to be Santa for ages and now might be their time except neither one of them is planning on giving up the fight.
As the town gets ready for the festivities that will test the skills of each of the competitors to see can be the ultimate Santa Claus it is more than just the fire and hot cocoa heating up in this small town.
Gregory and John equally won my heart but I've got to say I was swooning hard for Gregory from the very start!! There was something about him that just had my heart so happy. And John, his heart was so big even if it did seem to get a little lost there for a moment.
Glenn Quigley delivered one of the most heartfelt Christmas novellas I have ever read with all the things that make you remember why Christmas time is such a loving and happy time of year.
And of course, because my heart is such a hopeless romantic fingers crossed that we haven't seen the last of Gregory and John or Yuleboro!!