Lonely Hearts, by Heidi Cullinan (Love Lessons, Book 3)
Publisher: Samhain Publishing (August 11, 2015)
Word Count: approx. 115,000 words
Genre: Gay (M/M) Contemporary Romance
Today is the release date for Lonely Hearts by Heidi Cullinan, which is the third novel in her Love Lessons series. I’m already certain that this is going to be one of my favorite books of 2015; it’s absolutely stunning from start to finish, with amazing characters that are complex and damaged– but never weak.
I have an excerpt from the novel below, as well as two different giveaways! You can check out the Rafflecopter Grand Prize at the end of the post… but I’m also giving away one copy of Lonely Hearts or your choice from Heidi’s backlist in eBook (PDF, epub, or mobi)!
Of course, don’t forget to check out my review of the novel here, where I give it 5 out of 5 stars (and ramble about how in love I am with Elijah, Baz, and the rest of their friends.)
Note: This novel picks up shortly after Fever Pitch (Book Two in the Love Lessons series) ends, and includes characters from that and Love Lessons (Book One). You don’t necessarily need to read either of those in order to understand this novel, but it will definitely make the experience more enjoyable… and Fever Pitch was nominated by the RWA for the 2015 RITA Awards, in case you needed further encouragement!
Even hot messes need a happily ever after.
With the quiet help of his wealthy family, Sebastian “Baz” Acker has successfully kept his painful past at bay. But as the end of college draws near, his friends—his buffer zone—are preparing to move on, while his own life is at a crippling standstill. With loneliness bearing down on him, Baz hooks up—then opens up—with Elijah Prince, the guy Baz took a bullet for last year. The aftershocks of their one-night stand leave giant cracks in Baz’s carefully constructed armor. For the first time, the prospect isn’t terrifying.
Accustomed to escaping his demons by withdrawing into his imagination, Elijah isn’t used to having a happy herd of friends. He’s even less comfortable as the object of a notorious playboy’s affections. Yet all signs seem to indicate this time happiness might be within his grasp. When Baz’s mother runs for a highly sought-after public office, the media hounds drag Baz’s and Elijah’s pasts into the light. In the blinding glare, Baz and Elijah face the ultimate test: discovering if they’re stronger together…or apart.
Warning: Contains sex in a Tesla, sex in a cupboard, sex under a piano, kinky role play, and a cappella RuPaul songs. Just a couple of boys groping, battling, then finally loving their way to becoming men.
Click through the cut to read an excerpt from the novel, and to check out the giveaways!
Excerpt, “Why You”:
“I don’t know. I think maybe this whole thing is a bad idea. I should stay, earn money.”
“Forget the money.”
Elijah glared at him. “Easy for you to say.”
A tic formed in Baz’s cheek. He shut the computer and glared right back, or ostensibly he did. Fucking sunglasses. He looked as if he wanted to say something but kept swallowing it.
Elijah gripped the mug so hard he thought he might break it. If he offers to pay me to be his date at the fundraiser, I’m throwing this coffee at his head.
Baz threw up his hands. “Fine. If you don’t want to go, say so.”
God, Elijah hated how this guy could tie him up inside. “I didn’t say I didn’t want to. I said I shouldn’t. I need to make money. Be responsible.”
“You have enough money in your fund for school. More than enough.” “
Yes, and my fund makes me want to throw up.”
“Because it’s at two hundred and fifty thousand dollars and still rising. Somebody, one person, put twenty-five thousand in just the other day. I could go to school twice with what’s in that account. I don’t understand where it all came from. Who all these people are. I owe all of them. I don’t know what I owe them. Just that I do and have no way to ever pay them back.”
“You don’t need to pay anybody back. You certainly don’t owe penance in the school cafeteria.”
“What the fuck would you know about it?”
He snorted. “Penance? I know plenty.”
Elijah clutched his coffee to his belly, sloshing some on his pajama pants. He stared at the floor, feeling angry, anxious and hollow. “I don’t want it. The money. The help. But I don’t have any choice. I have to take it. But I don’t know what to do with it.” Tears pricked his eyes, and he shut them. Tight.
When he heard the scrape of Baz’s chair, his stomach flipped over. He tried to drink his coffee, but his hand shook. Fuck, fuck, fuck.
Baz’s bare feet appeared in front of his own. Hands took the coffee cup away.
Elijah wrapped his arms around his belly and kept staring at the floor, except now he stared at Baz’s groin and feet. “You don’t understand.”
“The fuck I don’t. Ever since that goddamned night when I was sixteen, I’ve had bubble wrap around me. Yeah, I was a privileged rich kid, but after I was the tragic rich kid. My whole family and all my friends live to wipe my ass. Poor Sebastian. Don’t upset him. But don’t let him hurt himself. Don’t let anything happen. You want to talk about feeling like you owe somebody? Every goddamn day they all remind me I’m the boy who lived. Then they want to know why I can’t move on.”
Baz was so close each breath Elijah drew was Baz-scented. Night sweat and coffee and a whisper of morning breath, lingering detergent and old deodorant not cutting the mustard anymore. How fucked up was he? Baz was baring his soul, and all Elijah wanted to do was lick him.
When Baz put a hand on Elijah’s hip, Elijah had to grip the counter to keep from leaning into him. Talk. Stop being such a fucking mopey tool. “Why…why do you…” want me? “Why…me?”
On Elijah’s hip, Baz’s thumb made a slow circle. “I don’t know.” Slower circles. Like a massage. Four inches from Elijah’s groin. “I don’t know.”
Elijah dug his fingernails into the Formica. “You’re going to be a jerk again. And then we’ll be in the middle of the fucking desert or something.”
“No deserts in Illinois.”
“Fine. You’ll leave me in a cornfield.”
“You’re the only one who can drive. You can leave me in the cornfield.”
“Like I would.”
“You would, actually. I think… I think that might be why. Why… you.”
About the Author:
Heidi Cullinan has always enjoyed a good love story, provided it has a happy ending. Proud to be from the first Midwestern state with full marriage equality, Heidi is a vocal advocate for LGBT rights. She writes positive-outcome romances for LGBT characters struggling against insurmountable odds because she believes there’s no such thing as too much happy ever after. When Heidi isn’t writing, she enjoys cooking, reading, playing with her cats, and watching television with her family. Find out more about Heidi at heidicullinan.com.
Heidi’s Thoughts on Abandonment and Affluence:
Baz and Elijah are a lot alike in how they choose to deal with an unstable world, but their backgrounds couldn’t be more different. Baz was born with a silver spoon and gets a Tesla he can’t drive to soothe his sorrows, and Elijah is penniless, homeless. Yet they’re both abandoned by their families, albeit in different ways.
Having grown up very poor, I’ve always fantasized about having enough money to make problems go away. Like Eljiah, I worked my way through college and had to get creative to make sure my physical needs were met. Writing Baz, however, reminded me how little safety and assurance money offers if it’s not backed up with emotional security. That in fact, the money means nothing, and that the richest people in the world would give up ever penny if they thought they could truly buy emotional security.
In Lonely Hearts, I wanted to explore how abandonment comes in many forms. The smaller, more regular cuts of emotional abandonment and detachment can be far more wounding than the wide swaths of physical abandonment. In the end, all of us need the same thing. We all need love and connection. We need safe spaces to find ourselves, and in most of our cases, to heal ourselves.
I enjoyed playing in the safe space of the White House in Lonely Hearts, and I can’t wait to get back there again with new characters.
Rafflecopter Giveaway! Click on the image below for your chance to win an amazing Lonely Hearts prize pack!
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