Winter Wonderland (Renee’s Review)

winter wonderland
Title: Winter Wonderland (Minnesota Christmas 3)
Author: Heidi Cullinan
Publisher: Samhain Publishing, Ltd.
Release Date: November 10, 2015
Genre(s): Contemporary
Page Count: 205
Reviewed by: Renee
Heat Level: flames out of 5
Rating: 3.40 stars out of 5

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.

I was very excited to read about Paul and Kyle. This book had me at toppy twink. Color me intrigued. When my most recent Cullinan read was Carry the Ocean, I had pretty high hopes. And Cullinan can write, there is no doubt about that. But this one didn’t quite live up to that standard.

As I said, the writing was amazing, as usual. But it was the characters that made me not enjoy this story as much as I wish I could have. Kyle had a weak start, but came through in the end. He is 25 and has a baby face. And he’s tired of everyone treating him like a teenager. So he decides to leave giant penis ice sculptures on his crush’s porch. Well – that’s a sign of maturity. That will make people treat you like a grown up! But Kyle made me come around, and I really liked him.

Paul, however, spent the entire book being a doormat. He ran away from good things and ran toward people who treat him poorly. Whether that’s his family or boyfriends, it doesn’t matter. I’m all for turning the other cheek in certain situations, but come on! Sometimes a verbal smackdown is warranted! And it was warranted in this book for Paul’s family, specifically his sister. That never happened.

The love story was very beautiful, and the steam was fair. The ending was a bit abrupt, but overall a good read, if not great. Some will definitely love this, and it is Cullinan. It’s just not as great as some of her other stories. For a holiday-themed book, it was lovely.

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