Going for a SLEIGH RIDE–A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a fun and frisky gay Christmas romance from Heidi Cullinan. SLEIGH RIDE is the second book in the Minnesota Christmas series and it will heat your heart just and your naughty bits…

Sleigh Ride (Minnesota Christmas, #2)About the book:
The way to a man’s heart is on a sleigh.

Arthur Anderson doesn’t want anything to do with love and romance, and he certainly doesn’t want to play Santa in his mother’s library fundraising scheme. He knows full well what she really wants is to hook him up with the town’s lanky, prissy librarian.

It’s clear Gabriel Higgins doesn’t want him, either—as a Santa, as a boyfriend, as anyone at all. But when Arthur’s efforts to wiggle out of the fundraiser lead to getting to know the man behind the storytime idol, he can’t help but be charmed. The least he can do is be neighborly and help Gabriel find a few local friends.

As their fiery arguments strike hotter sparks, two men who insist they don’t date wind up doing an awful lot of dating. And it looks like the sleigh they both tried not to board could send them jingling all the way to happily ever after.

Warning: Contains a feisty librarian, a boorish bear, small town politics, deer sausage, and a boy who wants a doll.

My Review:
Arthur is a foul-mouthed, free-loving gay lumberjack in rural northern Minnesota. He’s a big, loud ginger who can’t understand why his best pal, and usual bedmate Paul, has decided to move out. Just because their other pal Marcus has found THE ONE doesn’t mean Arthur and Paul need to commit to each other. Does it? Because Arthur isn’t the committing kind.

Gabriel Higgins is an uptight librarian, serving the fine people in a tiny Minnesota town not too far from his own homestead–not that he’s been back there in 15 years. No, being gay isn’t acceptable to his family, and Gabriel’s kinky fantasies aren’t actually acceptable to him. He’s not interested in a relationship–well, because having one and losing it would be too soul crushing. Best to avoid on all fronts.

Of course, Arthur’s mother is set on being a yenta–she is sure the town’s shy, intellectual librarian is perfect for her randy, but virtually illiterate, son. Who coulda guessed Arthur’s overbearing nature and relentless verve would crumble Gabriel’s defenses? (Take note: some fictional mothers do know best!) Also, seeing Paul move on, albeit unsuccessfully, is a great push for Arthur to find someone else–not that he thinks he will.

Okay, this book was interesting to me on a few levels.

One, the sexual chemistry was good. Arthur is the perfect foil for over-analyzing Gabriel. He takes control sexually, and emotionally as well. Both men struggle with open communication; Arthur because he thinks less of himself and Gabriel because he’s afraid of his own desire. As the plot moved it was easy to see how far these men cast themselves from people. How they walled themselves away, never dreaming they could find a lifemate. It was charming to experience their vulnerability. The smexytimes were interesting, and there was real tension at points, due to miscommunication and prejudice. Loved how it resolved.

Two, I enjoyed the literary references. Arthur hates reading–a lifelong problem fostered in his youth due to a librarian constantly decrying his choice of material–comics. It takes Gabriel about 8 seconds to win Arthur over to the power of literature when he begins reading to the kids at story time. I nearly laughed thinking of this big lumberjack wishing he could circle up with the kids on the carpet. And, when Gabriel reveals his own personal graphic novel collection to Arthur, it’s incendiary. I probably got so into this theme because I keep hoping I’ll find the right media to entice my hubs into reading with me. (No dice, thus far…)

Three, I totally got how important a free and open library can be to a community. Especially in rural areas, a library is a boon to people who may have no recreational outlet. It can become the lifeblood of conversation, support and entertainment. Gabriel took his role very seriously–and sought to incorporate multicultural works into his story time lessons–bringing color and culture to a vanilla world. This really touched a nerve for me. I was a library devotee as a kid. It was through my reading that I learned A LOT about myself, and the life I wanted to have as an adult. Growing up suburban poor, I hit the library all the time for free movies, reads, and special events. In fact, I still do. And, I take my kids. I love the different books presented at story time and how engaged my boys get in a well-read book and story session. They look forward to it, and I saw that same charm alive in this story.

Four, I really dug how the kink was handled. Gabriel has a hard time letting go–to the point that he likes to be “forced” (consensually) into sex. He has longed for a dominant lover, one who will safely push him into the roles he wants to assume sexually, but is too timid and ashamed to claim on his own. Arthur is a perfect match in this regard as he’s naturally both dominant and compassionate. He’s got a super tender side–honed by years of serving as a surrogate father figure to his young nephew. One thing I wished I had seen more of in this story: Gabriel taking the lead sexually. While he was adventurous and all, it was always with Arthur at the reins. I would have liked to see Gabriel lavishing Arthur with the same attention Arthur gave him. I get that they had a D/s dynamic going–but it wasn’t formal and Arthur could have used a bit of reinforcement.

In all, I had a great time with this one. It’s perfect for fans of slightly kinky M/M romance.

Interested? You can find SLEIGH RIDE on Goodreads, Amazon and Barnes & Noble. I received a copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

About the author:
Heidi Cullinan has always loved a good love story, provided it has a happy ending. She enjoys writing across many genres but loves above all to write happy, romantic endings for LGBT characters because there just aren’t enough of those stories out there. When Heidi isn’t writing, she enjoys cooking, reading, knitting, listening to music, and watching television with her family. Heidi also volunteers frequently for her state’s LGBT rights group, One Iowa, and is proud to be from the first midwestern state to legalize same-sex marriage.

Heidi enjoys reading, watching movies and TV, and listening all kinds of music.  She has a husband, a daughter, and too many cats. Heidi is an active social networker, updating on Twitter, FacebookBlog, and of course has good old-fashioned email.

Thanks for popping in and keep reading my friends!

5 thoughts on “Going for a SLEIGH RIDE–A Review

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.