Title: The Christmas Fling (Christmas Town #1)
Author: Heidi Cullinan
Publisher: Self Published
Release Date: December 12th 2017
Genre(s): M/M Contemporary Romance, Holiday
Page Count: 207 pages
Reviewed by: Belen
Heat Level: 4 flames out of 5
Rating: 2.5 stars out of 5
Sometimes it takes a village to fall in love.
Eccentric, reclusive, socially awkward project designer Evan Myles doesn’t date. Paying for sex with professionals is so much more efficient and suits his needs well enough. But when he’s on assignment in rural Logan, Minnesota, for the Christmas Town project and a handsome stranger at the bar catches his attention, Evan decides it’s time to break his rule. It doesn’t matter that he’s never so much as flirted before. It can’t be that hard, can it?
Davidson Incorporated lead architect Terry Reid hasn’t been hit on so clumsily in his life. Terry’s the first to admit he’s a neurotic Prince Charming, and he’s kissed his share of frogs of both genders, but he’s never met anyone quite like Evan Myles. Evan calls Terry by the wrong name, mistakes Terry for a simple construction worker, and picks apart his work as an architect. Despite this rough start, Terry is lured by the brilliance of Evan’s ideas, his quirky personality, and once they’re alone in Evan’s cabin, the man’s mad skills in bed. Yet Terry knows it takes more than a single night of passion to make a relationship work, and after so many failures, he’s just not ready to try again.
Evan and Terry’s path is strewn with stones neither of them can dislodge. Fortunately, they’re not alone on the road to romance. They’re in Christmas Town, home to matchmakers, meddlers, and more “fairy godfathers” than they could possibly know what to do with.
Most importantly, in Logan, Minnesota, happy ever after is guaranteed.
While The Christmas Fling is the first book in a new series it is in the same location as the Minnesota Christmas series, Logan, Minnesota, and centers around “Christmas Town”, which was first developed and introduced there. Cameos are plentiful, as the main characters in The Christmas Fling, Evan and Terry, get lots of help from the characters first introduced in those original holiday stories.
There were some things that I really liked about the story, like the dual third person POV that really allows the reader to know and understand the motivations of Evan and Terry, which I think was really key in the “misunderstanding” at the core of the story to not to completely overwhelm everything else. I also liked that both characters had to modify certain behavior in order to work around issues they both have.
I really loved the first 28% of the story, but after the big misunderstanding happens…the way everything plays out, unfortunately, really impacted my enjoyment of the story.
I didn’t personally care for the humiliation/shame kink aspect, as it makes me supremely uncomfortable. I felt like the whole “mistaken identity” plot went on for far too long lending a tension to the story that I was unable to get past waiting for the inevitable shoe to drop. Finally, Terry’s reaction to Evan’s confession really made me sad, though I was happy they get their HFN in the end.
Don’t get me wrong, the characters here are beautifully rendered, and I think the writing is excellent. The story flows well, with great pacing, an obvious love for the location, and an understanding of people on the spectrum and with social anxiety.
I suppose it boils down to my expectation to get a lower angst, less tense, Christmas-themed fluffy romance and getting a far different kind of romance instead.
It just all worked together to affect my enjoyment of the story in the end. I know others who love these kinds of elements though and this will be right up their alley.
It was interesting to see how Heidi Cullinan has begun developing this new series, while still keeping the older characters from the Minnesota Christmas series involved, and I’m looking forward to seeing what comes next.