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Review: Sleigh Ride by Heidi Cullinan (Minnesota Christmas #2)

Publisher: Samhain
Publish Date: November 11, 2014
Reviewed by: Heller
Where did you get this book: E-Arc from Publisher

22055733“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.

We’re continuing the adventures of the three Minnesota lumberjack bears: Book 1 was Marcus(Papa Bear), Book 2 is Arthur(Mama Bear) and hopefully Book 3 will be Paul(Baby Bear). I had some issues with Paul’s character carried over from the first book. I found him to be pretty selfish and disrespectful to Marcus and Frankie but most especially to Paul. Paul is Arthur’s best friend and roommate for the past ten years but they’re also friends with benefits. Arthur seemed to push Paul past his sexual comfort zone several times in book 1 and I didn’t like that so I was definitely curious to read his story to see if he could be redeemed for me.

The story starts out with Paul breaking things off with Arthur and moving out. This is something that so needed to happen in order to save their friendship. Paul wants more in his life and Arthur just can’t understand why he won’t keep things as they are so Paul’s leaving really shakes Arthur up and leaves him at loose ends.

Arthur’s mother keeps trying to set him up with men but Arthur’s not interested in anything more than hook-ups. He finally gets her to stop when she ropes him into repairing a broken down sleigh so it can be used to help as a fundraiser for their town’s small library. When it’s finished Arthur will be Santa and Gabriel Higgins, the library director, will be his elf. It’s a situation that doesn’t work for either man as there’s no love lost between them. Gabriel thinks Arthur is a brutish oaf and Arthur thinks Gabriel is a prissy geek.

The men meet, they argue and then later that night they meet again and have an incredibly hot sexual encounter. It’s consensual dubcon with a smattering of BDSM that just burns off the pages. This book has stellar sex scenes, Cullinan is definitely a master at writing them. The men continue to have a sort of love/hate thing going on and neither one is sure if they’re actually attracted to each other.

For me, there’s a slow redemption here for Arthur and that really works. What I needed was his conversation with and apology to Paul so I was more than happy to see that and I can’t wait for his book. This was a beautiful read as the men discover that they’re actually meant for each other. I have to make a special note of Gabriel’s book reading of “William’s Doll” during library storytime, it was enlightening and really opened my eyes to what it takes to be a librarian, that’s not an easy job.

So despite initially having reservations about one of the main characters this ended up being a book that I adored. For the characters that were revisited and those who were introduced and the stories that were told. I would say that this didn’t have the natural separation that occurred between Marcus and Frankie in book 1. The issues that Gabriel had in his relationship with Arthur seemed somewhat forced and that didn’t flow well for me. Still this was a great second book in the series and I’ll definitely be looking for Minnesota Christmas #3 as well as anything else new by the author. She never disappoints. B+

By Heller

In the United Nations of Book Pushers I represent the Canadian contingent. I've known Has, Lou, E and Minn for a few years now and I've discovered many a new author from them for which I will be forever grateful. New to me often translates to "Where has this book been all my life?" and leads to endless re-reads.

The majority of my childhood was spent with my nose in a book (not that it's any different now) and I always carried at least one with me wherever I went no matter whatever trouble I was up to. My e-reader is something I could never give up now, despite my initial resistance to it. I love my books but carrying around a library in a small electronic device is a thrill that never gets old.

I read anything and everything that strikes my fancy: Regency, Retro-Romance, Sci-fi/Fantasy, Graphic Novels, Urban Fantasy, Post-Apoc...the list is pretty much endless. I tend to cycle through interests so it really just depends on my mood at the time. I would say that right now M/M books have me firmly in their grasp and they've been the majority of my reads for the past couple of years. I think there's nothing better than headjacking into a story and characters created by an author, I'm always up for a ride to a place I've never been before.

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