The Christmas Fling

The Christmas Fling - Heidi Cullinan Review originally posted at Sinfully.

3.5 stars

This is a spin-off of the Minnesota Christmas books, where the idea of turning the small town of Logan into Christmas Town began. Here we meet two of the men involved in that undertaking, Evan and Terry. You can easily read this as a standalone though the characters from the prior series all appear here in support.

Both men have their own issues. It’s pretty clear from the start that Evan has Asperger syndrome or a similar condition. Commitment is a huge issue for Terry, but the exact reason isn’t really revealed until near the end of the story and that made it tough to completely warm up to him. He runs when things get intense, and things get very intense the first night he is with Evan, who thinks Terry is a construction worker named Kevin when he takes him home for a night of kinky sex. Regret hits Terry and he bails before Evan wakes up. Terry realizes that running won’t change things since he is set to work directly with Evan on the Christmas Town project. Meanwhile, Evan is devastated that Kevin disappeared so much so that, when he can’t find anything about him, he is unable to function for quite a time.

There was a lot I liked about the book, especially Evan, but let me get it out there right now, I was uncomfortable with how long everyone lied to Evan about Kevin and the more I read and the longer it went on, the angrier I became at the way his friends and coworkers “handling” Evan. I understand some of the reasoning, but it bordered on cruel, especially Dale’s involvement, knowing how Evan perceives things and seeing just how devastated and obsessed Evan became.

Now, that aside, Heidi Cullinan created another character I loved from the start. Evan is unique. He’s not your typical leading man. Blunt and socially awkward, he has gotten by, getting what he needs with the least possible complications. But Kevin/Terry gets under his skin quickly and intensely. I adored Evan and his relationship with employer and friend Dale in general. Dale gets him. Dale sees his genius and is more than willing to do what Evan needs in order for him to be comfortable. He also is protective of Evan, but I didn’t like the way Dale handled Evan with respect to Terry/Kevin. Really, the whole situation upset me enough that it greatly affected my enjoyment of the story.

I did like Evan and Terry together. They get along well, they have the same interests and they appreciate each other’s work. In fact they are perfect together, which they discover even as Evan still feels something for Kevin. The more time they spend together, the more Evan’s attraction and confusion grows. Unfortunately, Terry’s lame attempts to tell Evan who he is as they get to know each other and work and live together were weak and frustrating and I spent more time being aggravated at him then trying to get to know him. Eventually, after way too long, things come out in the open and Evan is pretty forgiving in the hopes of moving forward with Terry, but of course, that doesn’t go smoothly either.

The story starts off with a majorly kinky sex scene. If humiliation kink is not your thing, the sex scenes will make you uncomfortable, though there are only a couple. This plays into Terry’s issues and again, after the identity issue is resolved, causes him to bail on Evan for weeks. We finally get some insight into Terry towards the end of the story and he does regret what he did and proffer an apology, but it seemed a bit abrupt at the end. I think I would have liked Terry a bit better if we had more insight into his mental state a bit earlier in the story.

I was happy to be back in Logan and revisit all the men of the Minnesota Christmas series. I especially was happy to see Gabriel, who felt as I did about the whole situation. I loved the way they all supported Evan and made him a part of their family. I did love the characterization of Evan and the growth of his friendship with Terry. Although I wasn’t thrilled with the way the mistaken identity plot played out and would have liked more time with the two men together without this secret between them, it won’t stop me from continuing on with this series.