I’m just going to put it out there, the burly bearish older man with an effeminate flamboyant younger man trope works on me LIKE A CHARM. I love the dynamics that can come from this type of love story. The older, more jaded man, finally finding someone that deserves his devotion, someone who brings out in him all the tenderness he’s forgotten he has to give. And then that younger man finding someone who cherishes him JUST THE WAY HE IS…That makes all those things that everyone branded as wrong in him, exactly the things that make him even more precious to his lover. THAT place, the place of acceptance, of seeing in the person you love that vulnerability and treasuring it, making that very “weakness” the place of strength where to grow your love, THAT place is where Heidi Cullinan brings it like no other author for me in this genre. This story charmed me. How could it not, with that cozy little cabin in the woods, and the three cranky bears who end up with a very reluctant Goldilocks?!
For the food this book is getting two posts. This first one with my review, has the wine pairing and a recipe for a lovely salad which will serve as a yummy side to an AWESOME recipe for Vegan and Gluten Free Pot Pies, which will be up tomorrow as part of Heidi’s Blog Tour. For the wine, I chose a the 2011 Flaco Tempranillo from Spain. You will NEVER pay more than $8.00 for a bottle of this wine, it’s tasty and rich every time. It’s got a little vanilla, a little spice, and a little pepper, which means it’s always good for the table. When in doubt, go with a Tempranillo. So, Tempranillo and a Greens, Avocado and Strawberry Salad with a Poppy Seed Vinaigrette (this I made special for Frankie) is the food and wine today. Now back to the story.
Like I mentioned this book has three bears, and this story is all about the Papa Bear and his Golden boy. Marcus was a high powered lawyer in Minneapolis, but a failed relationship and disillusionment with his fast paced, ambition driven career made him give it all up. Now’s he’s back living in Logan, Minnesota where he grew up, staying in a cabin with his two best friends, Paul and Arthur. Frankie is a young man working as a hairdresser in the Twin Cities, things are not terrible, but they are not great either, and on his way back home from Thanksgiving at his parent’s place, he drives his car into a snow bank in the middle of an ice storm, and ends up stuck in the middle of nowhere town of Logan, Minnesota.
Poor Frankie leaves his car behind, and starts walking until he ends up in a cabin, where he has no choice but to hunker down until the storm passes. He’s a little trepidatious, his earlier stop in a local cafe kind of scared him. The men in this town seemed a bit menacing. But he goes into the cabin anyway he doesn’t really have a choice….Just so happens the cabin is inhabited by three very bearish bears *whimpers*, actually the same guys from the cafe. And at least one of them is looking at Frankie like he’d love to eat him up as a midnight snack…Things could get interesting…
What I loved about this story was that both Marcus and Frankie had so much baggage, but they still were able to give into that gut feeling that hey had found something special. They both were scared of getting hurt, Marcus of getting his heart broken again, and Frankie of all the ways people could hurt him for being who he was. Marcus scared Frankie, he seemed like the kind of man who carried chip on his shoulder for having to be put in the same category as guys like Frankie. Frankie scared Marcus, because he reminded him of all the things he wanted, but knew he could not have. They started a stand off. Marcus was growly, but sort of protective and cared for Frankie’s needs as much as possible. That just made Frankie confused, Marcus seemed to hate him, yet he went out of his way to make sure he was faring in the crowded cabin.
Frankie simply was HOT for Marcus, and sharing that small pull out couch was not helping matters, specially with the free BDSM porn audio show they got every night from Arthur and Paul up in the loft. Marcus on his side of the bed not faring any better…They just could not communicate, Marcus refused to talk, and it was driving Frankie CRAZY!!! Until he finally lost it and made Marcus come out with how he really felt…Things got sexy pretty quickly after that, their connection grew strong and intense. They had something special, something REAL. However there was actual REALITY, Frankie couldn’t live in a small town where he would have to live with slurs and hatefulness, and Marcus could not face life in a big city. There was nothing to do but take advantage of the time they had together during the storm…After that they had to say goodbye.
One of the things I liked the most about this story was how it embraced that reckless optimism we feel around the holidays, the sense that we can really get our very best wish to come true…That we can make a difference in small ways, and big ways and that those things that we never would dare to hope can actually be within our grasp.
I loved Frankie and his fabulosity sweeping through the elderly of Logan one awesome hairdo at a time. Loved how the town banded together to help those who were hit worst during the storm, and loved how just by being who they were Marcus and Frankie made each other strong enough to reach for their happy ending.
Heartwarming and delightful…And of course very very sexy.
I’m very much looking forward to more Minnesota Snow Stories.
Let is Snow will be released November 26th, from Samhain Publishing, and is available for pre-order here.
Now here is the recipe…Fast, easy, and yummy!
Greens, Strawberry and Avocado Salad with a Poppy Seed Vinaigrette
1 cup of romaine lettuce chopped
2 cups of mixed greens
1 cup of sliced fresh strawberries
1 avocado sliced
1/2 tablespoon of poppy seed
1/2 tablespoon of agave nectar
1 teaspoon of dijon mustard
1/8 teaspoon of garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon no-salt salad seasoning (I used Penzey’s Spices Greek Seasoning, but Mrs. Dash or something similar works too)
3 tablespoons of white balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste.
Directions: Mix greens, avocado and strawberries in a large bowl (if you are not vegan 1/3 of a cup of feta cheese goes nicely in this salad). Separately in a small plastic container with a good sealable lid put all the vinaigrette ingredients, with oil going last. Close the lid, shake vigorously until well blended. Taste and then pour onto the salad and toss until everything is well coated with the dressing.
Hope you enjoy the book, and yummy salad!
Come back tomorrow to read about Heidi and my pot pie baking date, for the recipe and some lovely pics of us eating pie!
Cheers and happy reading!