In the Spotlight: Frozen Heart (Love Lessons #1.5) by Heidi Cullinan (giveaway)

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Frozen Heart (Love Lessons #1.5) by Heidi Cullinan
Cover Artist: Kanaxa

 

FULL BLURB:

Proposals don’t come with instructions.

Walter Lucas knows his boyfriend has been looking forward to the newest movie about a certain snow princess, but he isn’t prepared for the reality that is the front-row seat of Kelly Davidson’s cartoon obsession. There’s more going on in November than just the movie, however—Walter’s been working up the nerve to ask Kelly a certain question. When Walter set up his elaborate Thanksgiving marriage proposal, it seemed like such a good idea, but as the holiday, the movie premiere, and the question Walter never dreamt he’d be asking anyone converge…let’s just say even Hollywood’s best couldn’t sing and dance their way out of Walter’s tangle.

Buy links: Amazon USAmazon UKBarnes & NobleiTunesKobo, Tolino, Smashwords

RELEASE DATE: May 23, 2017

Original free edition release date December 25, 2013

Format: Short Story • Genre: Contemporary New Adult Romance • Length: 9,000 words

Publisher: Heidi Cullinan

Cover Artist: Kanaxa

ISBN: 978-1-945116-02-5

Series: Love Lessons #1.5

Characters: Walter Lucas, Kelly Davidson

 

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.

Need Another Love Lesson? Check Out Short Stay (Love Lessons #3.5) by Heidi Cullinan (author interview, excerpt and giveaway)

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Short Stay

Short Stay (Love Lessons #3.5) by Heidi Cullinan
R
elease Date May 24

Buy it at Amazon

 

 

 

Why Did You Write This Story?

I hadn’t planned on writing this story at all. I’d meant to write something for my Patreon readers as a Christmas present, but it got long and complicated, so I asked them what they wanted in a short story from a known character universe. They voted, and Baz and Elijah won, though Walter and Kelly were only one vote down, and the Special Delivery series characters had a strong showing too, so I decided what the heck, let’s include them all.

I meant the story to be short, but I don’t do short well. I was having too much fun playing with the characters and thinking of things to include I knew would delight my readers. I told them, as I wrote, that every time I got stuck I asked myself, “What would the readers want right now?” then tried to give it to them. I didn’t back down from anything cheesy, didn’t let any critical voices in my head.

The result was something I loved writing and my patrons loved reading. In truth all stories are written for readers, but this one really was. It wouldn’t have happened without them. It was designed with specific readers in mind, ones I’ve come to know and appreciate more deeply in the past six months. It felt exactly like it was meant to: a gift to readers I care very much about. And they enthusiastically let me share it with everyone else, so here we are.

You crossed the streams on this one big time, sending the Love Lessons characters into the Special Delivery characters’ world. Why did you do that?

It started as a lark. I’d meant for Baz and Elijah to go to Vegas in Lonely Hearts in an early draft, so I was eager to send them there now. And I thought, well, the Special Delivery characters have to say hi, since they live there. But I couldn’t resist sending them to Herod’s itself, and then everything snowballed. I should have known better. Randy always steals the show. But it’s okay, because he does it so well.

Will what happened in Short Stay become canon in either or both series?

Yes. It doesn’t change much in Special Delivery except now Randy wants a Tesla. For the Love Lessons series, though…well, I’m not giving any spoilers, but it changed a lot in what I had planned for the rest of the White House gang story arc. Which is fine, because shaking things up and making me scared always gives me good energy in a story.

What’s next in your production queue?

My muses have been fickle lately, and every time I make plans they thwart them. What I’m working on right now, for better or for worse, are two more after-HEA stories: Shelter the Sea, a novella in the Roosevelt series, and Enjoy the Dance, a short novel in the Dancing series. (Yes, Dance With Me is part of a series now.)

Shelter the Sea is still slightly amorphous, but essentially Emmet is trying to help a friend in trouble and doing a little more growing up in the process. Enjoy the Dance began as my attempt to chronicle what happened to Ed and Laurie between Dance With Me and when they appeared in Lonely Hearts, and how the radical change in the state of marriage equality affected them personally. We also find out what happened to Duon.

After that, I’m working on the next full novels in the Love Lessons, Roosevelt, and Clockwork Love series. As per usual I’m also working on several other things as well. What specifically comes next is difficult to say, but suffice it to say, something will float to the top.

Short Stay Playlist (https://open.spotify.com/user/12123422997/playlist/02r0maFAKwNHRxQEDDKpC5)

Short Stay (Love Lessons #3.5) by Heidi Cullinan

BlurbShort Stay Blog Tour

Hot messes have a hard time with happily ever after.

Baz Acker and Elijah Prince have it all. They’re engaged, and their wedding is guaranteed to be a spectacle no event will ever top. So why are they hunkered down in a quiet corner of the Acker mansion, restless and edgy while they wait out the holidays?

When Baz suggests a road trip with Walter and Kelly to Las Vegas, it sounds like an ideal escape, but it turns out Vegas only amplifies their unease. Elijah can’t slough off the self-hating his parents programmed into him, and he worries how that will affect his marriage. Baz, crippled en route because of too much time spent in the car without rest, must face the truth that his wealth and influence can’t always counteract the limits his disability will put on his—and Elijah’s—life.

With help from their friends, a wily poker player, a take-no-prisoners drag queen, and a smooth-talking casino owner, they face the truth that happiness is a state of mind, not a destination where they book a stay. What happens in Vegas won’t stay in Vegas—it will follow them all the way down the aisle.

 

Excerpt

Picking a Vegas Hotel

Elijah grinned wickedly and held up his phone. “Giles and Aaron are absolutely green that they didn’t get to come. They said they would have totally been our drivers.”

“They aren’t twenty-one.” Baz wiped his mouth with his napkin. “They wouldn’t be able to go to most bars, and they wouldn’t be allowed on the casino floor.”

Kelly wrinkled his nose. “I don’t know if I want to gamble.”

Walter nudged him. “You can do a few penny slots. Or be my arm candy while I play poker.”

Elijah flicked gently at the bridge of Baz’s glasses. “You should play poker. They’d just think your glasses were part of your schtick.”

Baz stifled a wince at how that small gesture made his eyes throb. “Craps is more my game.”

They talked nonstop for the last leg of their trip, imagining the adventures they were about to have, looking up possible excursions on their phones. Even Elijah began to get excited. “I had no idea there was so much to do. Now I wish we had more than a few days to stay.”

“I wish I didn’t have to get back to work.” Walter was driving, or rather he was behind the wheel while the Tesla situated itself precisely in the lane. “But alas, I do. Kelly and I both have to be in Minneapolis by the fourth.”

They came over the crest of a hill, and suddenly there it was: Las Vegas. The city sprawled across the desert, a throbbing oasis in a sea of sand. Great grids of brown dotted with tiny shapes of houses until the Strip erupted, framed by the mountains in the distance. It would have been more impressive at night with all the lights, but two in the afternoon wasn’t anything to sneeze at either.

Baz had programmed the hotel into the navigation, but Kelly rerouted them in a detour of the Strip with a stop at the famous sign. They couldn’t find a place to park, but plenty of other people were slowing down to get a glimpse. Kelly managed to snap a picture through the moonroof.

“Okay, let’s see this hotel,” Walter declared, and they were on to their final destination.

Baz had a little misgiving about his choice as they took in the grandeur of the casinos on the Strip. He wanted to impress Elijah without overwhelming him, a fine line Baz was still learning how to negotiate. The smaller casino had seemed so much more them, though he’d admit mostly he’d seen “ten rainbow flags” and “resident drag queen” and leapt. Plus their suite had a view of the Strip. It also had a hot tub, the photo of which had Baz already thinking about how he’d get busy in it. But the Strip casinos were varying degrees of awesome too. Super-kitschy, elegant, modern—everything was there. As they drove by Bellagio, Baz kicked himself, thinking he should have booked there. He almost had, but they hadn’t had a suite available, and the pictures of the lobby made Baz imagine Elijah bitching about being out of place.

He wanted this trip to be perfect. He wanted it to make Elijah relax and show him that no matter what, Baz would always make everything okay.

As they pulled up to Herod’s Poker Room and Casino, Baz began to feel a lot better about his choice for their accommodations. It was elegant in a more traditional, understated way. It reminded Baz a little bit from the outside of his mother’s favorite old hotel in St. Paul, both the architecture and the quiet dignity of the bell staff. It was nice without being imposing. Small enough, too, that Baz could flash some money and probably get some VIP treatment.

He felt pretty good about his choice before they got out of the car, but what sealed the deal was what he saw as he exited the Tesla and handed the keys to the valet. Along the side of the building, just under the overhang, hung the Nevada flag, the US flag, and four bright, proud rainbow flags. When Elijah spied them, he visibly relaxed.

Baz did too. This was going to fix everything. Elijah’s nerves, his quietness, his lack of faith that Baz could take care of him.

He was sure of it.

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A Stella Review: Lonely Hearts (Love Lessons #3) by Heidi Cullinan

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Rating:  4,5 stars out of 5

Lonely Hearts coverWith the quiet help of his wealthy family, Sebastian “Baz” Acker has successfully kept his painful past at bay. But as the end of college draws near, his friends—his buffer zone—are preparing to move on, while his own life is at a crippling standstill.With loneliness bearing down on him, Baz hooks up—then opens up—with Elijah Prince, the guy Baz took a bullet for last year. The aftershocks of their one-night stand leave giant cracks in Baz’s carefully constructed armor. For the first time, the prospect isn’t terrifying.

Accustomed to escaping his demons by withdrawing into his imagination, Elijah isn’t used to having a happy herd of friends. He’s even less comfortable as the object of a notorious playboy’s affections. Yet all signs seem to indicate this time happiness might be within his grasp. When Baz’s mother runs for a highly sought-after public office, the media hounds drag Baz’s and Elijah’s pasts into the light. In the blinding glare, Baz and Elijah face the ultimate test: discovering if they’re stronger together…or apart.

“People moved on. Everyone did, eventually. Everyone but Baz”.

Elijah Prince is finally in a safe place. He’s really been through hell. After spent some time on the streets and being almost killed by his father, he’s trying to live his life. He’s got a job at a cafeteria for the summer and he’s waiting to move to the White House (not the one you’re thinking about, but if you have read Fever Pitch you already know it). Now it’s starting the real struggling, dealing with a lot of fears and panic attacks. Used to take care of himself since he was just a little baby, he’s not comfortable to receive kindness, to be cared of. He hides himself behind walls so high. Elijah is very lonely and unhappy. He’s not able to accept something, he’s scared of be a friend and have a friend. He always kept his pain closed away.

“[Elijah]I mean, I know I push people away, hurting them first so they can’t hurt me. I’m trying not to do that with most people, but I can’t stop with him. I want” […]“I want…him. A lot.

I maybe get a few good tries at not preemptively attacking him, and I fail…but he actually gets more aggressive then. The more I try to run, the more he wants me. I feel like he’s led me way out into the deep water where I can’t swim, and any second he’ll leave me to drown.”

“What in the deep water makes you so scared?”

It was a raging sea of terrible darkness in his mind. Huge, black, stormy. The emotion shafted him like cold light. “Loneliness. The water is full of loneliness.”

Sebastian “Baz” Acker has already saved Elijah once. But when Elijah’s dad tried to kill his son, Baz took a bullet in the shoulder to save him. And the need to protect the young man is still strong, still there in his soul.

Baz’s family is really rich, his uncle is a senator and his mum is running for a prestigious role in politic. When she wants him to attend a fundraiser with a boyfriend, Baz soon thinks about Elijah. After had sex at Kelly and Walter’s wedding, he had totally ignored Elijah for over a month. Baz is attracted to him cause Elijah is the only one to antagonize and keep him to his toes, to threat him as a normal person, where everyone in his life babies him.

Of course what started as a fake boyfriend is becoming to Baz a real one, he wants more from Elijah for the first time after a long time. He too has a painful past, physically and in his heart too, it’s time for someone to saves him from the daily pains he has to endure due to his disabilities and from the guilty he still feels about a dramatic event he couldn’t control.

“I…love you. I’m scared and I don’t want to, not anybody, but I do. Love you. And I don’t think I can stop.”

Hot breath exhaled on his cheek as Baz sighed, then nuzzled his temple. “I love you too.”

The story is detailed,  a specific feature of Heidi Cullinan’s writing style. It follows the MCs’ life together very well, let’s us know them and their feelings, their fears and most of all their incredible family, not the bloody one, but the true, faithful and stronger protective family of amazing friends. While both their families are non existent, there are a lot of people around them, their real family. There is a huge, pretty well-defined second characters cast: Marius and Damien are Baz best friends: Pastor Robert and his wife Liz, I loved how they cared for the boys, how they helped them in their job hunting or in their everyday activities. When Liz told Elijah “Oh, sweetheart. Come inside and let me wrap you in a blanket” I was so ready to let her adopt me too. Besides meeting Kelly and Walter (Love Lessons) and Aaron and Giles (Fever Pitch), Ed from Dance With Me appears in Lonely Hearts. I particularly liked when an author does this kind of mixing of  choices, I always crave to know more and more after the HEAs of my favorite couples. The book starts with Elijah taking part at the wedding of Kelly and Walter (Love Lessons) and I was so happy to know more about them, especially re-meet them at their wedding, a Disney theme wedding!

Apart from the not so ordinary lives Baz and Elijah have, one being trashed and left disabilitated, the other being almost killed by his own father (previous books), the story felt to me pretty real, especially in the dialogues between the characters. Only one thing I didn’t like: the easy way both of them used anxiolytics. Being there and struggling a lot to put them away, I wasn’t so comfortable at reading the easy way they took them and mixed with alcohol. At the same time I could understand the need and I so appreciate how the author chose to develop this need in the end.

I had to think a little about it, cause I honestly can say at the beginning it was hard to me to override what my mind was telling me and just let my heart show me how much I was loving the book, no matter what was happening at the moment. Most of all where the weed, alcohol, and xanax lead to some hot moments between Baz and Elijah. Nothing new in it because Heidi is really the QUEEN of hot scenes (have you read Special Delivery or Dirty Laundry? You know what I’m talking about).

I can’t talk of course of the ending but I want to tell you is just fantastic. It made me cry a little too. Just a little prayer to Heidi, I’m ready to begging, please can I have Lewis/Lejla in the next book, please?

Highly recommended. A great book with perfect writing.

Cover art by Kanaxa. I’m particularly loving this series’ covers. Really well done.

Sales Links:  Samhain Books     –    All Romance (ARe) –   Amazon  →  preorder/ Buy It Here

Book Details:

Warning: Contains sex in a Tesla, sex in a cupboard, sex under a piano, kinky role play, and a cappella RuPaul songs. Just a couple of boys groping, battling, then finally loving their way to becoming men

ebook
Expected publication: August 11th 2015 by Samhain Publishing, Ltd.
original titleLonely Hearts
ISBN139781619226692
edition languageEnglish
urlhttp://www.heidicullinan.com/Lonely-Hearts
seriesLove Lessons #3

Love Lessons series
Love Lessons #1
Frozen Hearts #1,5
Fever Pitch #2
Lonely Hearts #3

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A MelanieM Review: Fever Pitch (Love Lessons #2) by Heidi Cullinan

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Sometimes you have to play love by ear.

Fever Pitch coverAaron Seavers is in a world of pain and he doesn’t know what to do about it.  His strict controlling father wants him to pick out a suitable college and do it  now.  But Aaron doesn’t know what he wants to do with his life even if his father had decided for him.  His divorced mother won’t support him against his father so Aaron knows he’s on his own and that’s a very lonely place.  But no one would guess all that lurks just underneath the exterior of a boy considered one of the popular crowd and its just the tip of the secrets Aaron is hiding.

Giles Mulder can’t wait to get the hell out of Oak Grove, Minnesota.  Giles has been through the horrors that middle and high school hold for someone who is different, gay and very different.  Bullied, beaten, hospitalized, its all been a large part of Giles’ life, made bearable by the love and support of his parents and family.  Now the chance to escape and reboot his life at college looms large.  Giles is headed off to St. Timothy’s College where he intends to play his violin, and be everything he wasn’t in high school.  Then he meets a drunken Aaron Seavers hiding in a closet at the party and it changes everything.

Aaron is in the closet in almost every way until Giles helps him out and home during a drunken binge at a party.  When Giles mentions the college he is going to in the fall, something clicks with Aaron, unbeknownst to Giles and his plans.  When Aaron appears on campus,, Giles is afraid that his high school experience is about to repeat itself.  For Aaron, Giles rejection is just one more thing to overcome.  Neither young man is prepared to the adjustments and changes that college has in store for them both.  Giles and Aaron soon realize that sometimes you have to play love by ear in order to find that which you have always wanted.

The title Fever Pitch comes from a quote in the story, advice actually, that if you want something so badly don’t go after it in a fever pitch but slow down, make sure its real, and not just the perception of something you think you want to have.  Excellent advice for the title characters here and life in general.  Fever Pitch, the second in the Love Lessions series, by Heidi Cullinan, presents two young men on the cusp of adulthood.  From starkly different background and families, they represent the best and the worst examples of teenagers dealing with their sexuality and thoughts of the future.  Aaron’s childhood is one of stultifying control and restrictions.  Even Aaron’s parents divorce, didn’t free him from his  father’s oeverbearing, restrictive rules and regulations, especially as his mother lacks the ability to support and parent her son.  Every aspect of Aaron’s life has been directed by his father and until his meeting with Giles, that wasn’t about to change.  Outwardly, Aaron has everything, including being part of the “in” crowd at school, a faction of which has been tormenting Giles.  Inside?  Aaron is a mess. Giles, on the other hand, has the love and support of a family who adores him and that includes his homosexuality which they accept.  But where Giles has it easy at home, school has been one nightmare after another, so much so that he has  ended up in the emergency room at numerous occasions.  Two young men, at odds with their surroundings, uncertain about their futures waiting ahead of them.

Heidi Cullinan is one of those writers who is able to take a teenage character and present them in a realistic and complex fashion.  Both Giles and Aaron feel absolutely believable, up to and including their histories and back stories.  The launching pad of this story is that odd time of panic and anticipation that happens at the end of the high school year, just before you leave for college.  Too many paths branching out before you, so many unanswered questions tossing about in your head as you step forward towards your first experience of independence.  Cullinan remembers this well and her ability to bring such a time of uncertainty and flux to life makes this story and these characters so moving and memorable.

There are so many wounded young men walking through these pages.  And while the damage done to them all carries the same hefty emotional weight, each received their wounds in different manners. Aaron and Giles are so different yet the empathy and pain you feel for them both is balanced and heartfelt.  Aaron especially with his moments of darkness and depression feels scarily authentic.  Giles’s attitude and assumptions also feels right for someone of his age and experience.  Sometimes you forget how hard it is to be 18 and this story is a perfect reminder of how tumultuous it can be and how out to sea they can feel.

One of the important aspects of this story and one that is beautifully portrayed is St. Timothy’s music department, along with the acapella songs that choral groups (that Glee and Perfect Pitch brought to everyone’s attention) sing as well as the school competitions and inequalities present among boy and girl groups. The interdepartmental politics and competition among students is laid out in a way that feels as real as every other element here.  That includes the songs and arrangements mentioned throughout the novel.

There is angst, oh my so much angst, that your heart will bleed a little along with the characters.  Through devastating events and stunning reversals of situations and beliefs, this is a story that creeps into your heart and mind to stay.  Characters from the first story, Kelly and Walter, have huge roles to play here as do the characters of Baz and Elijah (yes, that’s Bad in Baltimore’s Elijah).  But through all the issues, and swirl of emotions and adjustments, it still comes down to the love and romance of Aaron and Giles as they take their first steps towards adulthood and the life they want for themselves and each other.

Fever Pitch words fine as a stand alone or as part of a series.  I missed out on Love Lessons and Frozen Heart and will now rectify that omission.  Like me you don’t have to wait for those stories to pick this one up now.  Its a must read as far as I am concerned.  Heartwarming, deeply moving, and an ending you won’t believe.  Get started today!

Cover artist: I couldn’t find it but as lively and fun as that cover it, it didn’t reflect the story inside.

Sales Links:  Samhain Publishing      All Romance (ARe)     amazon      Fever Pitch

Book Details:

ebook, 270 pages
Published September 30th 2014 by Samhain Publishing, Ltd.
edition languageEnglish
url http://www.heidicullinan.com/Fever-pitch
seriesLove Lessons #2

Love Lessions Series:

Love Lessons (Love Lessons, #1)
Frozen Heart (Love Lessons, #1.5)
Fever Pitch (Love Lessons, #2)