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 and Maya
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.
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Evan, eating a cupcake, peered into the box of supplies, and Terry was saved from having to watch by the whistle of the teakettle. While Terry poured the water, Evan asked, “How did you know I made models, though?”
Terry nearly dropped the kettle. “Ah. I…heard about it. From people.”
“If you saw the ones I have in my office, I hope you don’t think they’re representative of my work. The ones I have here at home are far better. I have the whole town of Logan. You should have heard Dale complain about transporting it. It’s worth it, though. The models have helped me visualize some of the changes, and I can see what they’re going to look like before we make them.”
He’d updated the models? “Can I see them?”
“Of course. I’ll show you everything, including the notes on what I’ve edited so far from what Charlotte sent. It’s so handy you’re here, actually.” He licked his fingers and reached for a second cupcake. “Once I’m done eating and have had some coffee.”
Evan shot Terry a forlorn look around the icing of the Balsamic Strawberry. “Do I have to get dressed? If we’re going to work, I’ll do so much better if I can stay free.”
Terry rubbed a hand over his beard and looked anywhere but at Evan. “I—I don’t think it’s a good idea, no.”
“Not a good idea for me to get dressed? Excellent, thank you.”
Good Lord. “For you to stay naked.”
“Why not? We’re both guys.”
“Yes, but I’m bisexual. And you’re attractive.” Annoying, but attractive.
Evan’s eyes went wide, and he shifted sideways on the couch. Abruptly he listed and had to steady himself. “You’re bisexual too.”
Now they’d breached the Kevin topic. Terry focused on pouring more water over the grounds. “Many people are.”
“I normally don’t meet so many in a row, and you know each other. You and Kevin.” Evan chewed his bite of cupcake, smiling. “You find me attractive?”
“Objectively, yes, you’re handsome. Baffling, exasperating, maddening, but handsome.” He finished the cup of coffee, removed the pour-over, and carried the mug to Evan. “All things considered, though, I would feel more comfortable if you weren’t completely nude.”
Evan accepted the coffee with a sigh. “Fine, but my performance will suffer. I don’t know how you stand it, working fully clothed.”
“I’ve managed to muddle along somehow.”
“Have you tried working naked?”
Terry went back to studying the ceiling. “Can we please discuss something else?”
Though Terry braced for another round of cajoling and was half prepared to end up being seduced out of his clothes, to his relief Evan put his coffee down, swiped a pair of boxers from behind a pillow, and rose to step into them before sitting back down. He didn’t seem pleased about his situation, but he didn’t make any further attempts to bring the matter up. He simply finished his food, dusted off his fingers, and reached for a pile of papers on the coffee table, passing them over to Terry.
“These are from your notes from the original downtown designs. The sketches we talked about for the false fronts. I’ve added in a few design elements I thought might be worth considering. There are three versions. Raw, what the town would look like undecorated. Summer, a Christmas Town without snow and especially in a warm season. Then of course there’s Christmas, December or an extended holiday season. Those designs are best with snow. I asked Dale if he’d be willing to purchase a snowmaker to coat the roofs and trees strategically, but he said that’s a third phase move. So I’m still working on making the designs look good even if it fails to snow. I’m still hoping they might buy one for this season, though. I think we might be able to talk him into it.”
Terry thumbed through the designs, impressed by Evan’s work. “Isn’t it highly unlikely it would fail to snow that far north?”
“For Christmas? Yes. But it’s not unheard of. The thing is, if they open in November or October, which they’re hoping to do, there’s an even higher likelihood. Plus I want to be able to freshen up dirty snow.” He tapped the top of the Christmas design page. “The real trick is developing the theme I haven’t touched yet: Winter Off-Season. Dale wants to entice people up for Winter Wonderland in January and February. He wants people to come for quieter getaways and for hunting. He knows it will be slower, but he doesn’t want the town’s economy to pancake then. The marketing team wants to package it possibly as a corporate retreat, but it’s difficult because a blizzard could unexpectedly cancel or extend the getaway.”
Terry nodded as he skimmed his fingers over the pages, imagining the buildings he’d seen in Logan decorated in the various incarnations. “What do you need from me, as the architect, to make sure you can implement these schemes? I mean, it’s clear you want this kind of flower-box thing under every window, and loops in the scrolling under the false fronts where you can attach some of this garland stuff. Do you want the signs to stick out far enough from the building so you can hang things from them? You have these light strands in every scheme but the raw one—do you want them to be built in? Because I can do that. We can set it up so they change colors too. I can get you a master panel for the whole city square—hell, I can include the square itself—and you can program it to light up specific places, all of them, special colors, you name it. It’s going to cost to install, and the system will be pricey, but the manpower it will save the town is intense. That Logan Repair team, Arthur Anderson and Paul Parks, should be able to keep it maintained.”
Terry was getting into this now, lost in the possibilities, but when he realized Evan hadn’t said anything, Terry turned toward him, worried he’d upset him. From the way Evan stared at him, it was difficult to tell.
“What?” Terry asked at last. “If you don’t like it, obviously we won’t—”
“Are you serious?” Evan leaned into Terry, staring him down harder now. “You aren’t even going to comment on how I refitted your design again? You’re just going to fuss over my window boxes and rig me some custom lighting out of my wet dream?”
Terry tried to look away, but Evan was a tractor beam. “You didn’t change much. You left the supports in place, the ones I showed you. You even kept in mind the idea of protecting the town’s sense of pride and so on. Everything else is negotiable, really.”
Evan leaned over Terry so much he fell backward onto the couch. Evan’s eyes were wild, and his voice sharp and loud. “What about the pride in your work, architect? Your original design? You outrank me, and look what I’ve done with your precious lines.”
It was almost impossible to think, with Evan glaring down at him with so much intensity. Terry swallowed. “I…I don’t think like that. About rank. I think about the project. I think about the client. What they want. And my team, what ideas they have.” His gaze, unbidden, fell to Evan’s lips. “Your…your ideas are good. So…so good. I would never get in the way of that.”
Evan leaned farther forward, his body blocking the light. Terry closed his eyes, focusing on his breathing, which had become difficult. He had a brief fear that Evan was going to kiss him. More terrifying was that he almost wanted the kiss to happen.
What if he does? What will you do? Will you make out with him as Terry, as well as Kevin?
Yes, Terry’s traitorous body whispered, and he held his breath.
But when the couch shifted, it was because Evan had stood up, not leaned in the rest of the way. The light streamed in Terry’s face again, and he opened his eyes, confused and blinking, in time to see Evan walking away from him.
“Come over here and see the models I made,” Evan said, sounding a little gruff.
“All right,” Terry replied, shaking off his dizziness as he sat up, telling himself he wasn’t disappointed.
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.
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