Better Not Pout Cover
Synopsis from the Creator:

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.

Review: Better Not Pout, by Annabeth Albert

[fa icon="calendar"] Nov 23, 2018 9:00:00 AM / by Margrethe

Every time we read a book, we are hoping that it will fit our mood because you want to be fair to a book. Reading something that doesn’t match your mood can feel like required high school reading at the worst of times. And I want to be very clear that Better Not Pout is not in any way like required high school reading, but it did not fit my mood, so your mileage will vary.

Better Not Pout is an opposites-attract and age-gap romance between Nick, a retiring Army MP, and Teddy, a man who runs a charity in his small town. They are brought together when Nick is asked to play Santa Claus for the charity. When Teddy ends up rescuing a stranded Nick from a snowstorm, they both give into their mutual lust. However, Nick does not want more than that because he’s retiring and will be leaving town, and Teddy is twenty years younger. So, they enter into a sex-only arrangement for a month. Except it’s never just sex.

Odds are that if you like Albert’s books, you will like Better Not Pout too. There are two genuine and kind people falling in love surrounded by friends and family who only want the best for them. The conflict and stakes are minimal. So much of Albert’s writing is like a warm hug. And if you know anything about me, everything I just said sounds so much like a book I would love that you could be wondering if I’m okay because I should have really liked this book. I just didn’t.

Why this book didn’t work for me is sort of a mystery, which is why I blame mood. I liked both leads, I liked the setup and the tropes, and I wanted them to be happy. And yet, I would give this book an okay rating, but nothing stronger. It felt like a sequence of events almost, not a cohesive story arc. I’m very uncertain if there was much character development. The biggest challenge the characters face is if one will let himself love again. Did I need a Hallmark movie in a book? No, even if I love the absurd gingerbread house competitions. What I did miss was these two getting to know each other outside of sex. 

I’m going to dare to say the thing that will make some people flock to buy the book (and probably mock me): there was too much sex in it. There’s possibly twice as much sex as I usually encounter in one of Albert’s books, but I can’t be sure. What I do know is that I counted the sex scenes in Better Not Pout (five or six... I might have glazed over one). I am a firm believer that sex scenes should advance the story, but I’m not sure that those scenes did in this book. Better Not Pout really needed more time with Nick and Teddy getting to know each other while they were not having sex. This is where someone will give me a lecture on erotic romance and how the sex propels the story, is integral to the story. And that is why I would probably say Better Not Pout is more of an erotic romance. Most of the character development happens in the sex scenes, but then it became stagnant. The insecurities and frustrations became the same on repeat. 

All of this could have just been my mood too. I’ve been really hard on books lately and it’s hard to tell how much the frustrations in my life (e.g., bad commutes, terrible air quality, a cold) influence how I respond to a book. So, your mileage really may vary.


Content warnings: robbery scene, hero runs a food bank type of charity, hero is a Military Police officer, addict parents, references to sibling deaths, car accident

Topics: review