Format: Novel (205 pages)
I saved this book for a post-Christmas present to myself, as the previous two entries in this series, Minnesota Christmas blew me away. For fans of Heidi Cullinan’s work, especially the author’s contemporary/Midwestern romances, this third story does not disappoint.I actually was a little skeptical before I started Winter Wonderland, as this is Paul’s story, and he had the least draw to me of the “three bears” from this series. However, the novel tenderly unveils nuanced and interesting elements to his character which play nicely off of Kyle’s surprising, often against-type characteristics. In short, the tagline of “a Twink Goldilocks and the third bear” fits this story, but the author goes much further and gives us two interesting, flawed, and deep-enough characters.
The first half drew me quickly into caring about the characters, pulling my attention strongly through their first “heated and passionate” sizzling scene (a great “Topping from the Bottom” encounter in the most positive way possible). The rest of the story included a slow, ongoing exploration of Paul’s character, often through Kyle’s eyes, but also through the continuing, annoying and meddling (but well meaning) mother of a friend.I found the ongoing drama of character lusts and hesitations, and relationship troubles, to be usually intriguing but also sometimes rather typical. If I have any complaint, it would be using another righteously religious family as the primary foil when they vociferously and publicly reject their gay child/sibling. On the one hand, this continues to be a real and devastating phenomenon of our times, and it makes for a great challenge in gay romances.
However, the “hateful, homophobic religious family” sometimes feels like it’s a bit overused, especially when they come off as so one-dimensional.Overall, we have another sweet and entertaining Minnesota Christmas release, and reading it on a calm day after Christmas was a nice present to myself.