Review: Christmas Kitsch by Amy Lane

December 23, 2015 Review 7

Review: Christmas Kitsch by Amy Lane

Sometimes the best thing you can get for Christmas is knowing what you really want.

Rusty Baker is a blond, rich, entitled football player in a high school full of them—just the type of oblivious jock all the bullied kids hate. And he might have stayed that way, except he develops a friendship with out-and-proud Oliver Campbell from the wrong side of the tracks. Rusty thinks the friendship is just pity—Oliver is very bright, and Rusty is very not—but then Oliver kisses him goodbye when Rusty leaves for college, and Rusty is forced to rethink everything he knows about himself.

But even Rusty’s newfound awareness can’t help him survive a semester at Berkeley. He returns home for Thanksgiving break clinging to the one thing he knows to be true: Oliver Campbell is the best thing that’s ever happened to him.

Rusty’s parents disagree, and Rusty finds himself homeless for the holidays. Oliver may not have much money, but he’s got something Rusty has never known: true family. With their help and Oliver’s love, Rusty comes to realize that he may have failed college, but he’ll pass real life with flying rainbow colors.

20% of all proceeds from this title are donated to the Ali Forney Center in New York, whose mission “is to protect lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning (LGBTQ) youth from the harm of homelessness, and to support them in becoming safe and independent as they move from adolescence to adulthood.” To learn more about this charity or to donate directly, please visit

Title: Christmas Kitsch
Author: Amy Lane
Other books by this author that we've reviewed: Amy Lane, Lights, Camera, Cupid, The Deep of the Sound, Selfie
Series: Home for the Holidays
Other books in this series that we've reviewed: How I Met Your Father, Long the Mile, Lost and Found
Published by Riptide Publishing
Source: Publisher
Published: December 9, 2013
Genres: Male Male Romance
Pages: 256
See the title at Goodreads
Purchase your copy: Amazon
Visit the Author's Website

Stars: five-stars
Flames: three-flames

On occasion a book will totally take me by surprise and turn out to be something completely different than what I expected. Christmas Kitsch was that book. I honestly don’t know what I expected going into the book but it is not what I read. I knew to expect something awesome though. That is simply Amy Lane books. They are all amazing. Her characters are always amazing and will stay with you long after you have finished reading the book. Rusty and Rex are prime examples of this. I do hope to see more of Rex in a future book. Now let’s move on to Rusty.

Rusty and Oliver are the couple in this new adult male male romance. This tale is first person point of view, Rusty’s point of view. It often felt as if Rusty was talking to me the reader, I loved that. Readers first meet Rusty when he is a senior in high school. It also happens to be the day he meets Oliver. Rusty is the popular jock. Oliver is the new gay kid. For reasons Rusty does not understand he is immediately drawn to him and an unlikely friendship begins. Rusty believes he is straight. Oliver sees things differently and expresses his thoughts on the matter the night before Rusty goes off to college.

Flash forward a few months, time apart and a roommate (Rex) determined to help Rusty figure things out and Rusty figures some things out. Rusty’s not the sharpest guy. He does eventually figure things out. It just so happens this time his conclusions leave him homeless and a feeling that he is alone in the world. Rusty does have one solid thing in his life, Oliver. Oliver is the rock that Rusty needs and they begin a relationship together that is so sweet. I teared up so many times reading this book. The relationship is so sweet. Rusty finding his way in life is so enjoyable to read. He drives this book so well.

Favorite quote, Oliver to Rusty: “I’m sorry you’re all lost inside.”

Riptide Publishing




From Amy Lane: 

Welcome to the blog tour for Christmas Kitsch, a full length novel featured in Riptide’s Home for the Holidays Christmas bundle. The story focuses around Rusty Baker, a once spoiled rich kid who finds himself homeless for the holidays, because he fell in love with Oliver Campbell, his best friend from high school.

In addition to the Riptide giveaway, I’m having a scavenger hunt on my own blog.  At the beginning of the blog tour, I’ll publish the tour dates on Yarning to Write.   For every stop on the tour I’ll have a “phrase” for the scavenger hunt.  At the end of the tour, I’ll put up a post for the people who have found the phrases.  If you comment — and then send me an e-mail with six of the twelve phrases and your address!– I’ll send you some Christmas Kitsch swag.  The post collecting the winners will go up on the 13th (the day of the last stop on the tour) and you will have a week to go read all of the tour stops and collect your phrases.  The hunt closes on December 21st, at the end of the day and I’ll get your swag into the mail between Christmas and New Years!  (Hopefully after I get my own Christmas cards out in the mail. I’m not known for my punctuality, I’m afraid;-)  Look below for today’s phrase!

In honor of their rather rocky beginning in the crappy apartment with the hand-me-down furniture, I went back to my own roots with my beloved Mate.  In the course of the blog tour, I’ll be sharing some highlights (and low-lights) of my first year with Mate–and how I drew on that to write Rusty and Oliver, and hopefully you’ll see why these guys are so very close to my heart.  


It’s a Rat!

I’ve told this story a couple of times on my own blog, but, well, sometimes classics are classics for a reason.See, one of the hardest things to get used to when you go from childhood to adulthood is learning how to sleep next to somebody. That’s not just another body, that’s another body with idiosyncrasies of its own. So, you like to sleep cold? Well, that other body needs six more blankets. You like to cuddle? That other body (which houses the ridiculous sense of humor and tenderness and integrity that you so admire) has studied sleep from the House o’Prickly Starfishes. Not only do random limbs splay out on occasion, but your touch—so treasured in the daytime—is now a clammy, clingy anathema with the fall of inky dark. So you need three-quarters of a king-sized bed? Well that body needs seven eights of it—is everybody asleep? Let’s get ready to rumble!!!

It’s “Battle Royale”, every night, until the two bodies in question learn the particular glitches that make their people tick.

With me, it’s the snoring.

With my husband? It’s freaking out in his sleep.

Yeah, not talking (which my youngest son does with impunity) but freaking the hell out.


Well, it usually happens when he has slept very little. When he’s overtired and overstressed, suddenly his body is writing checks before his brain has deposited the funds. So, when we were dating, his mother once knocked on his door in the middle of the day, after he’d worked three night shifts in a row.

The door swung open and he was crouched on the bed like a Zulu warrior, holding a blanket over his head, gazing at me sightlessly and screaming, “Who the fuck are you?” while looking right directly at me.

I didn’t run away then, and I’m not running away now, but… dayum.

While we were both working and going to school the sleep weirdness got more prevalent—and damned funny. Once, when we were working at T.G.I. Fridays, he fell asleep on the couch in his nasty stinky uniform and shoes, after working three twelve-hour shifts in a row.

The phone rang–it was our douchebag manager, who didn’t realize we’d already worked and wanted us to come in—and while I was having that conversation, suddenly Mate sits up like someone shocked him up the spine and screams, “THOSE CHAR-CHICKEN SALADS WERE TO GO, GODDAMMIT! THOSE CHAR-CHICKEN SALADS WERE TO GO!”

Anyway, so, yes. I was getting used to sleeping next to this particular body, while it was doing these very particular things.

We had two cats at this time.

One was a black fluffy diva bitch named Orryasha, who never forgave us for letting Herman and George (his balls) leave his life, and who would lick where they used to be in remembrance at any point during the day. The other was a sleek gray cat, fine-boned and a little skittish, who loved us both to distraction. Her name was Clarke.

And we had no heat in our apartment—it was (much like Talker and Brian) a choice between heat and light, and we chose light.

We made it through the winter by huddling under two giant Sierra Nevada test sleeping bags, zipped together, draping over the edges of Mate’s queen-sized pedestal bed, which his parents bought him when he was twelve. (The sleeping bags were birthday presents from my parents. While opposing my choice to move in with my boyfriend by withdrawing all funding for school and living expenses, they were surprisingly excited by the idea that we might scrape together some money in the middle of winter to go camping. Parents are weird.) There was a gap in the bottom of the bags of about six inches, but, if we kept our knees curled up, we were perfectly cocooned in warmth, which was great for eating, sleeping, doing homework, watching television, and having the occasional sex.

Now, did I mention the apartment was a shithole? If you read my post over at Sid Love’s you’ll see what a complete disaster this place was. I mean—dudes. Dump-tastic. But it wasn’t something we dwelled on, because really, unless the toilet was fountaining or sewage was pouring from the ceiling to the bathtub, or the cops were storming the courtyard, the shittiness of the neighborhood wasn’t something we could see from our cocoon of raw warmth.

But remember—I was now cocooned in that space with a beloved psycho who, at any time while overtired and stressed, would suddenly start shrieking about who-the-fuck-are-you and char-chicken salads to go.

Which brings me to my story.

Imagine, a sleeping couple. I was skinny then, and sort of cute—freckles, long red hair, perfect innocence—and my Mate was sort of a scrawny, adorkable kid, and we were side-by-side in the safety cocoon of our shitacular apartment.

And suddenly Mate starts screaming, “Omigod, it’s a rat! A rat! It’s a rat on my feet! Omigod it’s a rat!”

And I’m thinking, “No, babe—it’s probably a char-chicken salad to go.” So that’s what I say. “Calm down, hon, it was a dream, okay? Sh… just a dream… just a…”

And at this point, Mate reaches into the bottom of the sleeping bag and pulls out a gray furry mammal. His hands are around the sleek triangular head, and the whiskers are twitching madly, and I scream, “HOLY SHIT IT’S A RAT!” and Clarke the cat shrieks, “MERRROWWWLLL!” (which I assume means “All humans are insane and they suck!”) before wriggling out of Mate’s grasp and running for the farthest corner of the house.

It took ten minutes for Mate to scrape me off the ceiling, and three days to coax the cat out of the bathroom—but I can’t even write that story, even for the thousandth time, without laughing.

When Rusty and Oliver set up house in Christmas Kitsch, things aren’t always smooth sailing. They have misadventures with an inflatable bed, eat a lot of meals on a futon, and eat a whole lot of spaghetti. But even the worst adventures have a silver lining—and even the most, uhm, interesting personality quirks are livable.

Every now and then, Mate still has a “sleeping” moment. (The time when he choked on a snore and ran down the hall with a baseball bat screaming, “What in the fuck was that!” comes to mind.) And every now and then, I spazz out over something when I should know better. But we learned a long time ago that even if one of us needs to be scraped off the ceiling (or finds himself awake at the end of the hall holding a baseball bat for no good goddamned reason) as long as we can laugh at the end, the adventure was successful.

And that’s what our relationship has been—an adventure. We weren’t always sure we were going to make it out together, but, really, that was the only way we could make it out. I wanted to give that feeling to Rusty and Oliver—that the only way they could really make it out was hand in hand.

7 Responses to “Review: Christmas Kitsch by Amy Lane”

  1. teronangel

    Thanks for reading, Laurie! And thanks for having me here, Vanessa 🙂

  2. Beth B.

    Wow love the rat story – incredible!! My favorite “quote” from the book is “Oliver-sexual” – <3

  3. jenf27

    Thanks for the LOL blog post. Glad to see all the wonderful review Christmas Kitsch is getting.

  4. teronangel

    Yah! someone read the rat story! (Still makes me laugh!) Thanks guys– for reading the rat story and for the good wishes! (And for loving that Rusty is Oliver-sexual.)

  5. s0ph1ar0s3

    I got to read this one too and love it.

    And Amy, I have snot and tears running down my face from your A Rat story. My folks were that way except it was mom who was the crazy sleeper. We found her all over the place and twice she’s done the whole butcher knife thing from Psycho. Eeps! Just thanks for the laugh.