Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Winter Wonderland by Heidi Cullinan

Finding Mr. Right can be a snow lot of fun.

Paul Jansen was the only one of his friends who wanted a relationship. Naturally, he’s the last single man standing. No gay man within a fifty-mile radius wants more than casual sex.

No one, that is, except too-young, too-twinky Kyle Parks, who sends him suggestive texts and leaves X-rated snow sculptures on his front porch.

Kyle is tired of being the town’s resident Peter Pan. He’s twenty-five, not ten, and despite his effeminate appearance, he’s nothing but the boss in bed. He’s loved Paul since forever, and this Christmas, since they’re both working on the Winter Wonderland festival, he might finally get his chance for a holiday romance.

But Paul comes with baggage. His ultra-conservative family wants him paired up with a woman, not a man with Logan’s rainbow connection. When their anti-LGBT crusade spills beyond managing Paul’s love life and threatens the holiday festival, Kyle and Paul must fight for everyone’s happily ever after, including their own.

Warning: Contains erotic snow art, toppy twinks, and super-sweet holiday moments. Best savored with a mug of hot chocolate with a dash of spice.

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Book 3
Buy Links

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Samhain  Publishing

Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

Winter Wonderland is a wonderful Christmas romance. This is a simple romance between two guys who live in small town Minnesota, a place not particularly tolerant of same sex couples.

The story is a mix of fun and serious. For fun we have snow penises, a medaling mother figure trying to help Kyle snare Paul and lots of lovely holiday, family scenes. On the serious side we have Paul trying to deal with his homophobic, intolerant family and learning that it is ok to be happy. From Kyle, he himself is both fun and serious depending on the situation. I particularly liked seeing his insecurities during the intimate scenes.

The characters in this book are three-dimensional and it was a pleasure to read Winter Wonderland. This story is the third and can be read as a standalone. I am yet to read the previous two books. I hope the author writes another one next Christmas.

I loved this book. Then again, what’s not to love about a book that opens with a ten-foot-tall snow penis sculpture on someone’s front steps? I pretty much knew from the first paragraph that I was going to enjoy Winter Wonderland, but Cullinan has created a cast of and a romance with a sprinkle of Christmas magic that insured I would absolutely love the book.

Not having read the previous books in the series, I wasn’t too worried because I had faith that the author would provide the background info I needed to know what was going on – and she did. As the odd man out, Paul is the last single man standing among his close-knit group of friends, and with him being the only one looking for a serious relationship, it’s a bit disconcerting. Add to that there being no single gay men his age in their small town and Paul having no intention of moving away from Logan, he’s begun to give up on his hopes of finding that perfect guy to spend the rest of his life with. When Paul catches the ice-penis sculptor in the act, he’s horrified to learn that his secret admirer is Kyle. Not because he doesn’t find Kyle attractive, no; it’s because Kyle is too young to even elicit sexual thoughts. Yet realizing that Kyle isn’t as young as he thought, and that Kyle has been the one sexting him on Grindr, puts Kyle in a whole new context for Paul – and thoughts that were once off-limits are now coming at Paul constantly without an off button. Even still, Paul denied any hints of attraction because of their age difference…until Kyle got all toppy and dominant on him. Oh boy! Now that scene was a great example of verbal foreplay and let me just say that Paul wasn’t the only one getting all hot and bothered. When Kyle finally does get Paul horizontal, it is intense and sexy as heck. But Paul being on the verge of finding everything he wants in one man freaks him out and sends him running, leaving it up to Kyle to decide if Paul is worth the pursuit.

I adored Kyle. I could easily say it’s because of how he treated his twin sister or that it was how he romanced Paul. But the truth is, Kyle is just that guy, the one who is genuinely nice and cares for others equally. His character-deep kindness was obvious in his immediate concern and continued watchfulness for Paul’s neighbor – a character in the book that Kyle had no vested interest in and yet she received a double dose of his care and kindness. I really liked that the author showed Kyle examining his feelings toward Paul throughout the book – having him come to the realization that his initial attraction to Paul was his being enamored with the idea of Paul, and then over the course of getting to know Paul, realizing that his feelings had shifted to true affection for and attachment to the man. Kyle’s willingness to wade in to one of Paul’s family dinners, after having met Paul’s zealot sister, merely highlighted this shift. I really, really liked the idea they came up with for the town’s winter wonderland fundraiser and hope that Cullinan plans to write more books in the series as I would love to see how that plays out, not to mention that I would love to catch up with all the guys again. But at least I have two books to go back and read, so I get to spend more time in Logan, Minnesota either way. Winter Wonderland was a lovely M/M romance and one that I know I will enjoy reading again, any time of the year.

Heidi Cullinan has always enjoyed a good love story, provided it has a happy ending. Proud to be from the first Midwestern state with full marriage equality, Heidi is a vocal advocate for LGBT rights. She writes positive-outcome romances for LGBT characters struggling against insurmountable odds because she believes there’s no such thing as too much happy ever after. When Heidi isn't writing, she enjoys cooking, reading, playing with her cats, and watching television with her family.

Connect with Heidi

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Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of Winter Wonderland (Minnesota Christmas #3) by Heidi Cullinan to read and review.

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