Hotness Level: Inferno
Kink Level: Mild
Genre: Contemporary , m/m, BDSM
Series: Minnesota Christmas #2
Reviewed by Anne
Arthur and Gabriel are very different and, despite being single gay men in a small town, they have no interest in each other. In fact, they each pretty much hate the idea of the other. That doesn’t stop Arthur’s mom, Corrina from matchmaking, though, and when she gets the idea that Arthur and Gabriel should be together? Well, she’ll pretty much steamroll over anyone who thinks otherwise, including Arthur and Gabriel. So, considering Corrina, it’s understandable that even before they’ve met, Arthur has been drafted to play Santa and Gabriel to play Santa’s elf.
Cullinan does such a great job with this book! The opening scenes where Arthur and Gabriel are meeting each other and mentally categorizing everything they dislike about the other are very believable. Gabriel is a librarian with a passion for small town libraries. Arthur hates libraries. In fact, he can’t even stand the “nasty book smell” inside the library! This hit me like a punch to the gut, because I swear that smell brings my blood pressure down and puts a smile on my face every time I walk through my library’s doors! It was easy to see why Gabriel and Arthur had no time for each other, even without meeting. However, the more time they spend together, the more they realize how much there is to like about each other. It was such a sweet story to watch unfold!
There is some BDSM in this book and it’s extremely well done and hot! I’ve got to think that writing Consensual Non-consensual role-playing is challenging, but Cullinan does it very well. There’s also some really nice emotional development through the sex scenes as the story progresses. You see their commitment to each other and trust and understanding grow through these scenes. I enjoy that.
Another aspect of the story that made my heart happy was the storyline addressing Arthur’s nephew (and all little boys’) right to want to play with a doll. I also soaked up every word devoted to a librarian’s roll in a community and how seriously Gabriel took that responsibility. The way that Arthur respected Gabriel’s work, despite his personal dislike of libraries made me fall in love with him a little!
Honestly, it’s hard to think of something I didn’t enjoy about the book.
I think this story would stand on its own just fine, but I enjoyed seeing the story of Arthur and Paul’s friendship and how things worked out between them. So, I probably got more out of this book for having read Let It Snow before this story.
I really enjoyed this well written story! It’s got a lot of what I love – it’s a Christmas story, it’s characters who initially dislike each other growing to care, and it’s main conflict is internal rather than external. I’d highly recommend this story to anyone who enjoys m/m romance, but it’s a must read if you like holiday stories, too! How about you? Do you have a favorite m/m holiday romance to recommend?