Book Review by Kristie: Santa Baby, by Heidi Cullinan

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Santa Baby, by Heidi Cullinan
Series: Minnesota Christmas, Book 4
Publisher: Self-Published
Release Date: November 15, 2016

Rating: 1 out of 5 stars
1-of-5

summary

Trimming the tree is more fun with three.

Twin Cities developer Dale Davidson has come to Logan, Minnesota, to turn it into Christmas Town, not to give in to Arthur Anderson’s offer to join him and his fiancé, Gabriel Higgins, for a Christmas Eve threesome. Dale is polyamorous, but it’s clear Arthur is offering a night of fun and nothing more. Maybe one night with the couple he admires so much won’t hurt…

Together the three of them light a fire hot enough to boil Lake Superior in January, and one night of fun becomes an extended engagement as Dale puts down some tentative roots in his new hometown. Everyone loves Dale, Logan’s own Santa Claus, and somehow no one knows what wild times are happening right underneath their noses. No one knows, either, the complicated ways they’re falling in love with one another.

But a shadow from Dale’s past emerges, an abuser threatening him with violence and shame. Ronny doesn’t want a happy ever after for Dale, only to draw him back into a consuming darkness. It will take the love of not only Gabriel and Arthur but all of Logan to convince their Santa he has nothing to be ashamed of—and that he will always have a home in their hearts.

tropes-tags

M/M and M/M/M Pairing
Gay Characters
Poly Relationship
Contemporary
Holiday (Christmas)
Small Town

Additional Warnings:
Stalker
Mental and Physical Abuse
On Page Sexual Assault
Homophobia

REVIEW

When I’d heard there was going to be another Minnesota Christmas book, I was elated. I love the series and these books have been wonderful holiday reads. I bought Santa Baby as soon as it came out so I’d have it read to go as soon as my schedule allowed for some fun reading. Starting, I had all these high hopes, even without reading the blurb. Once I’d read that, I had some serious puzzlement, but was really looking forward to seeing how this couple was going to turn into three. Complete honesty here… I am not happy with this book. I’m also confused, troubled, and angry. And I’m 100% bummed.

There are things that I liked… I like the characters. I enjoyed getting to know Dale. I had warm fuzzy feelings with the way Gabriel, Arthur, and Dale handled themselves when it came to their relationship. I really liked how the three of them communicated and went  into this with such open and honest understanding of each others needs. Sadly, none of these thing were enough to overshadow all the things I had problems with.

My Issues:
Everything that is different about the relationship between Gabriel and Arthur seems forced. It is like the author had an idea of what she wanted the ultimate ending to be, and the only way to get there was to totally change the Gabriel and Arthur we knew in Sleigh Ride, add in another guy (Dale), and mix up the story with such horrible stuff that it made me cringe. Frankly, I was extremely uncomfortable at times. The story also felt crammed with a lot of things that distracted me from the romance that was supposed to be happening. It was too much.

There is on page sexual assault that was so terrible I almost stopped reading right then and there. There was also extremely upsetting blackmail, massive amounts of manipulation and stalking and I was very disturbed by all of it.

I also don’t understand how Arthur and Gabriel could have changed so drastically from their story in Sleigh Ride. And yes, I like how they are with Dale, I just don’t get what made that happen. Or, I guess, what was the catalyst for it because they were totally monogamous. Totally. And unbelievably happy! So happy, they were going to get married! It was like their story in Sleigh Ride changed completely and who they are now is totally different. This includes them wanting children.

Seriously, I could go on and on about the things that bothered me about this book. El did a review on this book as well, and probably speaks to these things better than I can because it’s still too raw for me. I’m still too upset and this was not what I’d expected from this series. I’m just really disappointed.

more-from-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.

You can purchase Santa Baby from:
Amazon
iTunes
Smashwords
All Romance eBooks
Barnes & Noble
kobo

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4 thoughts on “Book Review by Kristie: Santa Baby, by Heidi Cullinan

  1. This book made me so mad! I liked it a little better than you did but I felt the same sense of betrayal – I feel like the author did a huge bait and switch with this book. It wasn’t the book I thought I was getting. I thought I was going to read about a sexy threesome and instead I got poly 101 with a side of domestic violence and recovering from abuse 101.

    The sexual assault stuff was really upsetting. I skimmed a lot of it. And as a survivor I took exception to some of her portrayal of recovery. I know it’s really personal and individual and ymmv but she wrote it as if there’s one true way to recover and that got my back up. I really disagreed with the bit about how all survivors should read the victim statement from the Stanford rape trial – no, everyone else should read that. It can be incredibly triggering for survivors so they should only read it if they can handle it.

    I’d forgotten some of the details from Arthur and Gabriel’s book especially about how important monogamy and having kids were to them. But I did feel like Arthur was a completely different character in this book – he read as way too good to be true (not at all how he read in the previous books).

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for reading. I have to agree with you on all fronts. Arthur was so different, right? Also, I took major issue with the statements he made about being trained having taken online classes. Really? Is that it? There really were a lot of issues with this one. I’m super bummed by it. Here’s to looking forward to better stories to come.

      Like

      • OMG, the online training. And Arthur was a like a pod person.

        On another note, I’m so happy I found this blog. I’m a long time romance reader and I feel like I’ve outgrown the big romance blogs – they’re fine but my tastes have changed and they haven’t. I mostly read queer romance these days and I’m glad to find a blog that seems to share or at least overlap with my sensibilities – I like to critically and affectionately talk about romance across the entire queer spectrum (and I don’t want to look at a lot of beefcake photos while I do that).

        Liked by 3 people

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