Dec 19, 2015

ARC Review: WINTER ORANGES by Marie Sexton


A Love for the Holidays charity novel

Jason Walker is a child star turned teen heartthrob turned reluctant B-movie regular who’s sick of his failing career. So he gives up Hollywood for northern Idaho, far away from the press, the drama of LA, and the best friend he’s secretly been in love with for years.

There’s only one problem with his new life: a strange young man only he can see is haunting his guesthouse. Except Benjamin Ward isn’t a ghost. He’s a man caught out of time, trapped since the Civil War in a magical prison where he can only watch the lives of those around him. He’s also sweet, funny, and cute as hell, with an affinity for cheesy ’80s TV shows. And he’s thrilled to finally have someone to talk to.

But Jason quickly discovers that spending all his time with a man nobody else can see or hear isn’t without its problems—especially when the tabloids find him again and make him front-page news. The local sheriff thinks he’s on drugs, and his best friend thinks he’s crazy. But Jason knows he hasn’t lost his mind. Too bad he can’t say the same thing about his heart. 

* * * * * * *

Twenty percent of the proceeds from this title will be donated to the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender (GLBT) National Help Center.

Founded in 1996, the GLBT National Help Center is a non-profit organization that provides vital peer-support, community connections and resource information to people with questions regarding sexual orientation and/or gender identity. Utilizing a diverse group of GLBT volunteers, they operate two national hotlines, the GLBT National Hotline and the GLBT National Youth Talkline, as well as private, volunteer one-to-one online chat, that help both youth and adults with coming-out issues, safer-sex information, school bullying, family concerns, relationship problems and a lot more.

To learn more about this charity or to donate directly, please visit their website at


Connect with the author:
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Rating: 3.5 stars.

Winter Oranges is my first novel by Marie Sexton. Before this I'd only read her short story To Feel the Sun, a sweet and sad story that left me wanting to read more by this author. Like that shortie Winter Oranges was a sweet love story, sad at times, but with a much happier ending. 

Although I wouldn't exactly classify this as a holiday romance as it happens over a longer period of time, that time does include a few winter holidays, so if you are looking for holiday reads, this could work.  

What's special about this romance novel is that one of its main characters is a man who'd been trapped in a magical prison for 150 years, which makes this the right choice for readers who like a magical twist to their romance stories. I'm not one who looks for those specifically, but I don't mind them. In fact, most have been a positive experience. Winter Oranges did have me wondering how some things were possible, but I thought the author found good solutions for the main characters to overcome the limitations set by that magical prison. 

The plot of Winter Oranges is clear from the blurb: Jason, wanting to get away from his less than stellar acting career and the pesky paparazzi, moved to to a secluded house far away from Hollywood. He wished to be left alone, but soon realized it would impossible because he had a ghost on the premises, Ben. I call Ben a ghost even though technically he wasn't one, but a man caught in a magical prison only able to project under certain circumstances. Jason is the only person who's been able to see him in a very, very long time. After the initial shock on Jason's part wore off, they started spending a lot of time together, becoming friends who later became boyfriends. It's all written in the summary in much prettier sentences than mine, but the story itself is quite lovelier.

The best and my favorite part of Winter Oranges was Ben. He was such a sweet character words fail me to describe him properly. After so many years of being trapped and no one to communicate with, he wasn't bitter or full of despair. He had his periods of sadness -- how could he not -- but he was still able to feel joy for experiencing all the little things we take for granted. Ben's excitement and gratitude for everything Jason did for him made me smile throughout the book. Truly, the highlight of this story is Ben.

Jason, on the other hand, didn't make much of an impression. It's only been days since I finished reading this book, and even though the novel is written entirely in Jason's POV, when I think of it, the first thing to come to mind is the adorable Ben. The second is awful Dylan. I'm trying to think of a way to express what I thought of Dylan without saying I hated him, but, really, I could barely stand to read the scenes with him. I disliked him at the very beginning when Jason's relationship with him was revealed. It seemed like a bad situation for Jason's heart, and it was one of those times I wished to tell a fictional character to have some self-respect and throw that... Dylan out of his life. My opinion of him didn't change. If anything it got worse. I'll admit he played a role in Jason and Ben reaching their happy ending sooner than they would have on their own, but it's not enough. They may all be best buddies after everything, but I don't think he deserved their quick forgiveness.

Before I went on my rant about Dylan, I'd started writing my thoughts on Jason or lack thereof. On the one hand, I liked all the things he did for Ben, on the other, I hated how he let Dylan push him around, and he had let him for years. It wasn't easy to read. But, overall, he was okay. His heart was in the right place.

The romance developed slowly but surely. Some parts I liked better than others, hence this 3.5 rating. The friendship between Ben and Jason that preceded the romance I enjoyed reading about, and in the end I was happy they got their HEA, and that's what matters most.

I may not be part of the majority blown away by Winter Oranges, but, overall, I did like this sweet magical realism romance with the cutest "ghost" ever who enjoyed watching Seinfeld.

***ARC provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.***
*Winter Oranges is a part of Love for the Holidays: A Charity Bundle Benefiting the GLBT National Help Center available here.  

*Purple read another book from that bundle, Rebound Remedy. You can find her review here.

Until next time, happy reading!


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