Mini-Review: Hearts Alight – Elliot Cooper
by Elliot Cooper
Publication Date: December 19, 2016
Source: Kindle Unlimited
Dave Cunningham hates the rampant consumerism that’s come to dominate his family’s Hanukkah celebrations. But a chance to bring a bit of a holiday happiness to his long-time crush, Amit Cohen, helps put him in a more festive mood.
In the quest to craft the perfect gift, Dave tries to urge a few personal details out of stoic Amit. Unintentionally, he learns the Cohen family’s secret: Amit is a golem. But Amit has a problem that runs deeper than his magical origin, and a Hanukkah miracle might be the only thing that will keep the budding flame between him and Dave from going out.
While I liked a lot about this charming Hanukkah novella, for some reason it just didn’t grab me. Dave is an introverted nerd who works at his dad’s pottery studio, while Amit is the reserved bartender at his brother-in-law’s family bar – and also a golem. There’s some pretty cute things – from Dave’s crush being able to “power” Amit to Dave introducing Amit to D&D to Amit hating dreidel song (think about it). But while I thought they were adorable, I didn’t really feel the connection between them. The pacing between them felt odd, with their relationship going in fits and spurts, though I found Dave’s second date worries about how the end of the date goodbye is going to go – a hug? a kiss? – endearing. I also feel a bit weird listing this as paranormal, because while Amit is a golem, I think there’s more time spent on them playing D&D than “actual” magic.
“He could envision Amit’s reaction to the gift: a surprised lift of his heavy brows, then a slow, earnest smile. Inner happiness, though, even if there was no outward indication, was what Dave hoped to give. More than a little piece of kitschy-cute art. More than a social obligation. Something that would bring a spark of warmth whenever Amit looked at it. And wasn’t that the spirit of Hanukkah? The miracle of kindling a lasting light―hope and peace―from next to nothing?”
It was also very low-angst, which I did enjoy, but almost to the point where I wasn’t sure where the story was going. There was a big deal made of Dave’s dislike of the consumerism and one-upping gift culture around the holidays, and while Amit offered one Hanukkah-centered rebuttal that seemed to sway Dave, it didn’t seem like it sunk in for him. Although, the low angst-ness also extended to its LGBT characters – Dave is bi and a supporting character is trans, and it’s all viewed as no big deal, which is always lovely to read.
Overall, this was quick and charming, but didn’t quite hit the spot for me. If you’re looking for a m/m Hanukkah romance, however, you should still give it a try.