Review: Better Not Pout by Annabeth Albert


One hard-nosed military police officer.

One overly enthusiastic elf.

One poorly timed snowstorm.

Is it a recipe for disaster? Or a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for holiday romance?

Teddy MacNally loves Christmas and everything that goes along with it. When he plays an elf for his charity’s events, he never expects to be paired with a Scrooge masquerading as Santa Claus. His new mission: make the holiday-hating soldier believe he was born to say ho-ho-ho.

Sergeant Major Nicholas Nowicki doesn’t do Santa, but he’s army to his blood. When his CO asks an unusual favor, Nick of course obliges. The elf to his Kris Kringle? Tempting. Too tempting—Nick’s only in town for another month, and Teddy’s too young, too cheerful and too nice for a one-night stand.

The slow, sexy make-out sessions while Teddy and Nick are alone and snowbound, though, feel like anything but a quick hookup. As a stress-free holiday fling turns into Christmas all year round, Teddy can’t imagine his life without Nick. And Nick’s days on the base may be coming to a close, but he doesn’t plan on leaving anything, or anyone, behind. 

I’m going to come right out and say this: Christmas books are not my thing.  Honestly, Christmas isn’t exactly my thing, either.  However, since this was one of the books I received in my first Box Not to Miss from Fresh Fiction, I thought I’d give it a try.  There was an added bonus of the box arriving early in December, which helped.  I really am happy I picked this one up first because it was so much better than I could have hoped for.

Teddy is sweet, sympathetic, and the kind of guy we all need in our lives.  No matter what happens, he tackles it with positivity.  He’s written so well, too, that you don’t get that annoying happy-go-lucky kind of feeling from him either.  You know it’s not a put on and that he’s simply a happy kind of guy.  All is not always perfect in Teddy’s life and, just because he’s positive about things working out, he’s not saccharine-sweet about it either.

Nick, on the other hand, isn’t quite so positive about his future, even if he is heading into it with eyes wide open.  It’s obvious from the get-go what kind of man he is – dependable, stubborn, and kind-hearted, everything Teddy wants and needs in a boyfriend.  Nick’s hangup with the age gap annoyed me at times because there was no middle ground with him.  Now, I have to admit, I was worried about this at first, too.  At first blush, you think Teddy is much younger than he is, but once I discovered he’s in his late 20’s, I relaxed a bit.  There’s still a large age gap – 17 or so years – they’re at least both well into adulthood. It took Nick way too long to even consider having a relationship with Teddy, despite their combustible chemistry.

In addition to the print book, I borrowed the audio from my local library via Hoopla Digital, so that I could get through it faster.  I loved the narrator, he had such a soothing voice.  When he drops into the lower register for Nick’s voice, I swear, my knees got weak.  However, because the narrator had this naturally borderline-deep voice, when he tries to move into a higher register to do Teddy’s voice, it came off almost as a parody.  That said, Teddy’s ‘voice’ was the only issue I had with the audio version.  A good narrator is everything and this gentleman was great.

Better Not Pout was exactly the right book for me this Christmas.  I tend to have a bad case of anxiety combined with the blues around the holidays.  However, having this book by my side helped me greatly.  Even though their relationship wasn’t all unicorns and rainbows, it was full of hope and joy, which is precisely what I needed to be reading.  I highly recommend this to anyone, any time of the year.


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