Title: Baby, It’s Cold Outside (Bellingham Mysteries #1)
Authors: Nicole Kimberling
Publisher: Loose ID
Buy link: Amazon.com
Genre: Murder Mystery/Contemporary Romance
Length: Novella (69 pages)
Rating: 4 stars out of 5
A Guest Review by Aunt Lynn
Small town Pacific Northwest reporter Peter Fontaine wants to level up. A job offer in Austin seems to be the answer to his prayers, but there’s one catch: his boyfriend, Nick Olson, artist, recluse, and snow-loving outdoorsman.
When Peter agrees to go to the Freezing Man snow sculpture competition, he thinks he’s going to get a lesson in making love in a hollowed-out snowball in the woods. He thinks he’ll either find a way to convince Nick to come to the Lone Star State or be forced to say goodbye. But one frozen corpse derails Peter’s personal plans entirely…
Bellingham Mysteries 1-6 Box Set
Baby, It’s Cold Outside is the sequel novella to this author’s Primal Red (reviewed here), which I really liked. Though it can be read as a standalone, you won’t want to miss out on the first book which introduces us to our heroes — especially the wonderful Peter — and I would recommend that you take that one up before this one.
Set a year after the end of PR, our story opens with Peter and Nick heading to the Freezing Man festival — a frozen version of Burning Man — and a few days of snow sculpting. In the forefront of his mind is how to tell Nick about a job offer he got while on holiday in Texas, and the conflict that brings — perhaps needing to choose between his lover versus a better job in another state. Just as he screws up his courage and confesses, a dead body is uncovered in the snow — and it’s not from natural causes. There’s a murderer in their group and Peter has a knack for snooping that could put him into the sights of the killer. Now he has some bigger things to worry about…
Well-written and laced with humor (…he could probably count on never having too much hair on his chest, unlike Nick, whose hairy Viking ancestors probably had never needed to wear shirts at all.) and a colorful cast of characters, Peter and his constant story-composing are back. Peter and Nick have been together for a while and it shows here. Nick is more in tune with Peter than in PR, much to Peter’s dismay and frustration at times, and it’s obvious that the two care for each other. I like that Nick totally gets Peter’s need for both investigating and creating the stories he will write in his head. Here’s an example from the first chapter, where Peter has discovered that he has a recently-discovered fear of avalanches:
“Tell me about the article you’re going to write.”
“You always write an article for the Hamster about every place we ever go.” Nick smiled easily, carelessly, as if he had no fear whatsoever that he would be imminently crushed under tons of snow, which was probably the case.
Peter took a deep breath.
“I think it will go something like, Anyone who stays in Bellingham for very long will become familiar with the number 542. You see it on bumper stickers, T-shirts, and even occasionally on “scenic highway” road signs. Highway 542 goes fifty-five miles east and five thousand feet up from Bellingham Bay to the Mount Baker Ski Area. If you’re lucky enough to not be suffocated in a freak highway avalanche, you will reach Artist Point—”
I thought this was an angstier offering compared to PR because of the job offer/Nick conflict, but not overly so. I also thought this aspect of the story balanced well with the murder mystery, which felt tighter to me than in the previous book. Additionally, we get to witness growth in their relationship as a result of both of these.
And I guess I never thought of the challenges of essentially having sex in the snow (albeit in a quinzhee, basically a hollowed-out snowball), but it was interesting and fun to watch Nick guiding Peter though keeping certain parts warm, yet accessible. 🙂
For fans of Primal Red, Baby, It’s Cold Outside is a fitting sequel and a must read.