A MelanieM Review: Santa Baby (Minnesota Christmas #4) by Heidi Cullinan

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Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5

santa-babyTrimming the tree is more fun with three.

Twin Cities developer Dale Davidson has come to Logan, Minnesota, to turn it into Christmas Town, not to give in to Arthur Anderson’s offer to join him and his fiancé, Gabriel Higgins, for a Christmas Eve threesome. Dale is polyamorous, but it’s clear Arthur is offering a night of fun and nothing more. Maybe one night with the couple he admires so much won’t hurt…

Together the three of them light a fire hot enough to boil Lake Superior in January, and one night of fun becomes an extended engagement as Dale puts down some tentative roots in his new hometown. Everyone loves Dale, Logan’s own Santa Claus, and somehow no one knows what wild times are happening right underneath their noses. No one knows, either, the complicated ways they’re falling in love with one another.

But a shadow from Dale’s past emerges, an abuser threatening him with violence and shame. Ronny doesn’t want a happy ever after for Dale, only to draw him back into a consuming darkness. It will take the love of not only Gabriel and Arthur but all of Logan to convince their Santa he has nothing to be ashamed of—and that he will always have a home in their hearts.

I fell in love with Heidi Cullinan’s Minnesota Christmas series from the very first story, Let It Snow (Minnesota Christmas, #1).  That featured our first couple Frankie Blackburn and Marcus Gardner.  It was heartwarming and introduced us to the town of Logan.  Then followed Sleigh Ride (Minnesota Christmas #2) whose tale revolved around librarian Gabriel Higgins and fiery red-headed Dom Arthur Anderson.  That book set my heart to blazing.  It had kink, hot scenes, a gentle librarian with a love of literature and a need to let his own kink needs free and a Dom to love him.  And it had Christmas.  If I wasn’t hooked before, I certainly was now.

Cullinan followed Arthur and Gabe’s story with Winter Wonderland (Minnesota Christmas #3),  Paul Jansen and Kyle Parks story.  This novel, like all the others, had humor (snow penis sculptures), poignancy, heartbreak and so much love it threatened to spill off the page.  And it introduced us to a new character, Dale Davidson.  The town of Logan needs help and the idea is to turn it into Christmas Town, a year around tourist destination.  Towards the end of that story there was some little sparks flying between our engaged kinky couple Arthur and Gabe and Dale.  But Winter Wonderland belonged to Paul and Kyle and it remains one of my favorite of the series.

But that spark refused to die and grew into this story (see my interview with Heidi here about the inspiration and future of the series).  I have to admit I wondered how I would feel about Arthur and Gabe and a polyamorous relationship.  Would it effect their original one and how I felt about them?  Could I accept that Gabe would be a part of this couple?  Turns out (and yes, this surprised me) the answer is yes to both questions.

Its in the way Cullinan not only came at the idea of polyamory, the details, the reality of it as described and emotionally felt by Dale and Gabe, but how Arthur worked through the impact on his relationship with Gabe and his new one with Dale.  We see them connecting with each other, the struggles to understand it themselves, how the loss of the potential relationship was devastating in its impact and the work it took to resolve everyone’s issues.  It made Arthur, Gabe and Dale’s loving relationship believable and in the end, something I really connected with myself.   I worked it through with them.

This is such a wonderfully adult book.  Its there in how these characters look at the issues that must be addressed, at the situations they find themselves in (there’s a story thread about violence with a non-con element here that’s equally well done), and even how to come out as a polyamorous couple to their friends.  So many different elements and they all  work due to wonderful writing and  intelligent handling of the subject matter.

And the romance is never forgotten, not once.  Along with some very hot and sexy scenes.

I loved the end of this story.  I always hate to leave Logan and all the couples there, including now a polyamorous one.  Turns out Heidi Cullinan isn’t done with Logan yet.  Be still my heart.  There will be a return to Christmas Town and I, for one, can’t wait.   Love this series.  Be sure to pick up Santa Baby (Minnesota Christmas #4).  Its unexpected, hot, heartwarming and everything you’ve come to expect from this series, town and author.  I highly recommend it and all the books that make up the Minnesota Christmas series.

Cover art by Kanaxa is just terrific.  Just brings out the smiles.

Sales Links

AmazonAll Romance Ebooks Barnes & NobleiTunesKoboSmashwordsHeidi’s Patreon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 227 pages
Published November 8th 2016 by Heidi Cullinan
Original Title Santa Baby
ASIN B01MTKD04T
Edition Language English

In Our Holiday Spotlight: Santa Baby (Minnesota Christmas #4) by Heidi Cullinan (author interview, excerpt and giveaway)

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Santa Baby (Minnesota Christmas #4) by Heidi Cullinan

Cover Art by Kanaxa

Buy links

AmazonAll Romance Ebooks Barnes & NobleiTunesKoboSmashwordsHeidi’s Patreon

 

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is so happy to have Heidi Cullinan agree to answer a few questions for us about her latest story, Santa Baby in the wonderful Minnesota Christmas series, a favorite here at STRW.  Along with the interview, we also have 2 giveaways for our readers to enter and an except to read. Now lets get started.

My interview with Heidi Cullinan

 

  • I was surprised to see another story in one of my favorite series, what was the inspiration?

Well, I’d always thought there would be at least a little hanky-panky after the way they made eyes at each other during the end of Winter Wonderland, and I thought maybe I could write a short story for fun this Christmas. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized there was something deeper between them, particularly between Gabriel and Dale. That was quite a revelation, and I couldn’t resist the rabbit hole.

  • Does this mean we might get even more?

I do want to do a spin-off series, probably not linked just to Christmas exactly. I’ve thought of calling it Minnesota Summer, or maybe it’s simply Christmas Town. This way we could go out on the lake in the summer, etc., and see some of the tourism Dale is drumming up. But yes, we’ll go back to Logan in one form or another. Eventually. I have a long writing list.

  • You’ve added a third to one of my favorite couples, was that a surprise to you or something you  always saw the potential for?

It was a surprise. I wasn’t planning on it any more than Gabriel or Arthur. But it all worked out for the best, I feel. I hope readers do too.

  • What’s next for Heidi Cullinan?

 Right now I’m working on book two of the Roosevelt series, Shelter the Sea. It will be a continuation of Carry the Ocean, not yet David’s book though that had been my original plan. This is a theme, you may have noticed. My plans are not always the plans that happen. I’ve learned not to argue. After that I have a long list of what’s coming, but what is precisely next and in what order depends on a lot of things. I intend to publish novels in February, May, July, September, and November if I can, though. We’ll see if I can be that ambitious or not.

For those of you who love to follow along with Heidi’s playlist for each novel, here is her playlist for Santa Baby:

For Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words review of Santa Baby, visit here

About Santa Baby

santa-babyTrimming the tree is more fun with three.

Twin Cities developer Dale Davidson has come to Logan, Minnesota, to turn it into Christmas Town, not to give in to Arthur Anderson’s offer to join him and his fiancé, Gabriel Higgins, for a Christmas Eve threesome. Dale is polyamorous, but it’s clear Arthur is offering a night of fun and nothing more. Maybe one night with the couple he admires so much won’t hurt…

Together the three of them light a fire hot enough to boil Lake Superior in January, and one night of fun becomes an extended engagement as Dale puts down some tentative roots in his new hometown. Everyone loves Dale, Logan’s own Santa Claus, and somehow no one knows what wild times are happening right underneath their noses. No one knows, either, the complicated ways they’re falling in love with one another.

But a shadow from Dale’s past emerges, an abuser threatening him with violence and shame. Ronny doesn’t want a happy ever after for Dale, only to draw him back into a consuming darkness. It will take the love of not only Gabriel and Arthur but all of Logan to convince their Santa he has nothing to be ashamed of—and that he will always have a home in their hearts

Excerpt from Santa Baby

Dale put a hand on Gabriel’s other leg, appearing concerned. “Are you all right?”

Now the two of them were touching him, sending their heat, their intensity into him, both of them laser-focused on his comfort, his needs, his pleasure. Suddenly he had a clear idea of how this evening was going to go. Gabriel held up his hands and let out an unsteady breath. “I’m fine. Shall we eat?”

He was relieved to find they settled into a rather normal meal, giving him a respite to collect himself. His body was a little sleepy from the orgasm, and he declined his second glass of wine, opting for water instead. The food was familiar, simple, and delicious. In the year they’d been together, Arthur had perfected the set of spices for venison steak, knowing just what and how much to season with to bring out the flavor in a way that made the meat exactly right. It was the same meal as the disastrous first dinner between the three of them—had it been deliberate? Arthur’s way of giving them a complete do-over? Probably. Except all Gabriel needed from the spread was the steak. The potatoes and salad, as far as he was concerned, were there for show—though he did try Dale’s bread, since he’d gone through the trouble to make it himself and since it happened to be Gabriel’s favorite.

It was quite good, in fact, especially since Arthur had kept it warm in the oven. Gabriel slathered it with butter and ate several large pieces, to the point that he put himself in a conundrum of which did he finish, his meat or his bread.

Arthur nudged him with his elbow. “Don’t make yourself so full you’re sick. Plenty more coming later.”

Gabriel understood what he meant by more—activity, not dinner, but Dale said, “Oh, is there dessert?”

Arthur didn’t move his gaze from Gabriel’s. “Yeah, I was thinking some cream.”

Gabriel blushed scarlet.

Dale chuckled and eased into his seat. “Goddamn, Arthur, but I love how you don’t muck around.”

“Not something I’m known for, no.” Arthur poked at the last few potatoes on his plate and swept up the remaining juices with the crust of his bread. “And since we’ve brought it up now, let’s lay out some rules for this evening’s entertainment. First, as a reminder, I’m making all of them. Second, and most important, if anybody doesn’t like what’s going on or needs us to ease up, we use yellow and red.” He rested a hand on Gabriel’s shoulder and toyed with a lock of his hair. “Gabriel does enjoy, in the right circumstances, saying no when he means go. But obviously it’s a risky game, and if we end up going there tonight, you’ll be following my lead, Mr. Davidson.”

Dale nodded, his expression hooded. “Yes, sir.”

Arthur glanced across their plates. “It looks like we’re all pretty much finished. Let’s get this table cleared, shall we? And then we can have a little fun.”

Gabriel carried the bread to the counter, because it was the only thing he dared carry for fear he’d drop it in his shaking hands. He wasn’t fearful, really, simply so stimulated and primed, aware both Arthur and Dale were focused on him. It made him excited, but it was overwhelming too. Part of him wanted to throw up his hands and tell them to leave the leftovers, for God’s sake, but for the first time ever he hadn’t finished his steak, and he watched it go into the fridge, thinking of when he would like to eat it next.

Then everything was put away, and they were heading into the living room.

Here we go.

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Giveaway Times 2

We are giving away one copy of Santa Baby to one lucky reader.  Leave a comment along with your email address where you can be reached. Giveaway ends December 9th at midnight.  Must be 18 years of age or older to enter both contests.

There is also a Rafflecopter giveaway of  Books 1-4 of the Minnesota Christmas Series (Let It Snow, Sleigh Ride, Winter Wonderland, Santa Baby), Santa Hat, Handkerchief, copy of American Gods) from Heidi Cullinan.  To enter that  giveaway use the Rafflecopter code below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

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Heidi Cullinan head shot (1)

About the Author

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. Find out more about Heidi at heidicullinan.com.

How to find the author:

Twitter

Spotify (pretty much entirely work in progress soundtracks, and past stories)

 Facebook: Author Profile (more posts, more randomness, easy to tag)

Facebook: Fan Page (not as many posts, sticks to largely books and the occasional interesting bit)

 Instagram (mostly my kid and cats)

Blog (lots of back content, not much news)

Goodreads

A Stella Review: Stone and Shell by Lloyd A. Meeker

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RATING 4 out of 5 stars

stoneandshell-f500Eight-year-old Howie Evinger is convinced that his dad would be happier if he found a new husband. Howie would be happier, too. And somewhere out there in the city of Vancouver, there’s the right man for his dad to love. But how to find him? That’s a problem, especially if you’re just a kid and your dad says he doesn’t want another husband.

With the help of his quirky aunt, Shanna, who calls herself a Buddhist Wiccan, Howie builds his very own solstice altar with cool symbols to support his search. It has a candle, a feather, and a twisty stick, plus an agate for his dad, and a scallop shell for his new husband. Share Howie’s solstice adventure as he learns how real magic requires courage and patience as well as symbols.

Howie is eight years old and has a big desire, to find a new husband to his dad. To make his wish come truth, with the help of his awesome aunt Shanna, he built a solstice altar where a shell and a stone will start a dance until Howie finally sees in Mike the right candidate.

Stone and Shell was my first book by Lloyd A. Meeker and it was a success. It wasn’t the first story I read told entirely by a child and not an adult part of the MCs’ couple. Since I adore books with children in the plot, I really liked Stone and Shell.Although it’s only 26 pages long, it was well done, the story is sweet and fast paced. A quick story perfect to brighten my Christmas mood and leave me with a smile. I’m a fan of Howie, he’s very cute and lovely how he is so serious and certain in his actions, he is a smart boy and has around a great family, now complete with a new dad.

The cover art by Natasha Snow caught my attention before I read the blurb, I love it cause it’s beautiful and it fits the story, every time I watch it reminds me of a specific scene in the book.

Sales Links

NineStar Press

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BOOK DETAILS

Ebook 26 pages

Expected publication: November 28th 2016 by NineStar Press

ISBN: 978-1-945952-21-0

Edition Language English

Love Science Fiction? Check out Stone and Shell by Lloyd A. Meeker (Excerpt) NineStar Press Blog Tour

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Stone and Shell by Lloyd A. Meeker
Publisher:  NineStar Press
Release Date: November 28, 2016
Cover Artist: Natasha Snow

Purchase Links

NineStar Press

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COUPON CODE: Get 20% off preorder on NineStar Press website with coupon code “preorder”

* (Good until release day)

Book Blurb

Eight-year-old Howie Evinger is convinced that his dad would be happier if he found a new husband. Howie would be happier, too. And somewhere out there in the city of Vancouver, there’s the right man for his dad to love. But how to find him? That’s a problem, especially if you’re just a kid and your dad says he doesn’t want another husband.

With the help of his quirky aunt, Shanna, who calls herself a Buddhist Wiccan, Howie builds his very own solstice altar with cool symbols to support his search. It has a candle, a feather, and a twisty stick, plus an agate for his dad, and a scallop shell for his new husband. Share Howie’s solstice adventure as he learns how real magic requires courage and patience as well as symbols.

Category: Literary/Genre Fiction
Genre: Contemporary

Sex Content: N/A
Orientation: Gay
Identity: Cis

Length: Novelette
Words: 11200
Pages: 25

Author Bio

I’m a mystic, writer, healer, lover, cancer survivor, father, friend. I write (mostly) gay fiction featuring all those paths and more.

Having led what can only be described as a checkered life, I can honestly say I’m grateful for all of it. I’ve been a minister, an office worker, a janitor, a drinker, and a software developer on my way to finishing my first novel in 2004.

But basically I’m just a psychic empath, a little weather-beaten and still learning how to live in the world just the way it is. The thing is, I experience the world as so much more than is generally accepted. That’s the challenge. Writing stories is the best way I’ve found to examine and share the questions, the wonders I engage daily.

My husband and I have been together since 2002, married since 2007. Between us we have four children and five grandchildren. We’re based in south Florida, and work hard to keep up with the astonishing life we’ve created for ourselves.

Excerpt

Lloyd A. Meeker © 2016

All Rights Reserved

Dedication

To the wise and uncertain child in each of us, keeper of the flame of wonder.

Maybe the stone and the shell were too close to the candle. Howie wasn’t sure how this stuff worked. He studied his Solstice altar, made out of a wooden TV tray covered in a piece of dark green cloth. He felt nervous, like sitting in a surprise math test he hadn’t prepared for. He had dreams like that sometimes. He hated math.

If he left his objects too close together, would his wish cover enough territory? Vancouver was a big city. He pushed his glasses back up his nose and frowned. Shanna, who was really his aunt Shannon, even though she didn’t let him call her that, would know how it worked.

She’d taught him about symbols last week, which was a totally cool idea. Then she helped him build his Solstice altar and told him to place his symbols wherever he felt was right for them. The problem was he didn’t know how to place them so his wish, which sat like a giant lump inside him, would come true. It hadn’t occurred to him to ask her about placement rules for wishes.

Dad was working late tonight, and the house was a lot nicer when someone was home already. Back when his dad and Joel were together, they’d had a big Buddha statue, which was the first thing anybody saw when they came in the front door. It was like having a friend waiting for you to come home. Joel had taken it to Toronto with him, and the house felt different without it. He’d told Dad he didn’t mind that it wasn’t there anymore, but he actually did. He didn’t want to be a wuss and complain, though. His best friend, Ricky, was lucky. The Liu family had a gold Buddha set up in their house with all kinds of beautiful stuff around it, even incense. Howie liked the smell, but it made him sneeze sometimes.

Shanna would come soon, and he’d help her get dinner ready. Usually on Dad’s late days, all three of them would eat together, which was nice. It was lasagna tonight, Howie knew, because Dad had made it on the weekend and had frozen most of it for nights like this.

So when Shanna got there in a bit, he’d ask her how Solstice altars worked. She’d know what to do. She’d told him all about Druids and the Solstice and the Celts who were Howie’s ancestors. When he said he thought his grandparents were English, Shanna got a little mad and said just because someone is born in a barn, doesn’t mean he’s a horse. Howie didn’t get it entirely, but he’d stuck with being from the Celts after that.

He was doing pretty well with the altar, as far as he could tell. He’d found objects representing the four forces, which Shanna said every altar needed. He’d found a tiny pure white gull feather with really pretty fuzz near the bottom that moved even when you blew on it just a little. That was for air, and he had a twisty stick for earth. The candle was fire, of course. And then there was water. That part was easy; he already had the little scallop shell and the agate, both from the ocean.

Trouble was, he didn’t want to talk to her about his wish again, or that the stone on his altar also represented his dad, and the shell was a new husband for him because it was smooth and beautiful inside. The shell would hold the stone, and give it a place to be really happy again.

He’d already told Shanna months ago that his biggest wish was for his dad to find a new husband, and she’d kissed his cheek and laughed, her eyes shiny with what he could tell were almost-tears even though she didn’t say so, whispering that was a lovely but awfully big wish for an eight-year-old boy to carry. Howie didn’t mind how big the wish was. He wanted it to come true more than anything else in the whole world.

He pulled the agate pebble back from the candle a little way, but kept it nestled against the shell. Farther from the candle felt right, but the pebble and shell shouldn’t be that close yet. Who knew how far apart they really were? He pulled them apart a few inches, hating the new gap. Even so, the distance felt right. For now. He’d put them closer together soon.

Check out NineStar Press events calendar for information on additional blog stops for Stone and Shell and other upcoming releases!