May 24, 2016
Format: Short Novel • Genre: Contemporary/New Adult • Length: 42,000 words
Publisher: Heidi Cullinan
Editor: Sasha Knight
Cover Artist: Kanaxa
Proofer: Lillie's Literary Services
Ebook ISBN: 978-0-9961203-4-0
Print ISBN: 978-0-9961203-5-7
Series/Number: Love Lessons #3.5
Characters: Elijah Prince, Sebastian (Baz) Acker, Walter and Kelly Davidson, Randy Jansen, Ethan Ellison, Sam and Mitch Keller-Tedsoe, Steve Vance, Chenco Ortiz
Book 3.5 in the Love Lessons Series
Hot messes have a hard time with happily ever after.
Baz Acker and Elijah Prince have it all. They’re engaged, and their wedding is guaranteed to be a spectacle no event will ever top. So why are they hunkered down in a quiet corner of the Acker mansion, restless and edgy while they wait out the holidays?
When Baz suggests a road trip with Walter and Kelly to Las Vegas, it sounds like an ideal escape, but it turns out Vegas only amplifies their unease. Elijah can’t slough off the self-hating his parents programmed into him, and he worries how that will affect his marriage. Baz, crippled en route because of too much time spent in the car without rest, must face the truth that his wealth and influence can’t always counteract the limits his disability will put on his—and Elijah’s—life.
With help from their friends, a wily poker player, a take-no-prisoners drag queen, and a smooth-talking casino owner, they face the truth that happiness is a state of mind, not a destination where they book a stay. What happens in Vegas won’t stay in Vegas—it will follow them all the way down the aisle.
This novella was written for and by the request of Heidi’s Patreon readers. It is a continuation of a story begun in the novel Lonely Hearts in the Love Lessons series, also incorporating characters from the Special Delivery series. It is suggested but not required that you read at least Lonely Hearts before reading this book.
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Audiobook: coming soon
The man leaned back in his chair and swiveled it to get a better look at them. He took them in swiftly, and Elijah got the impression they were being weighed and judged—and Rob’s heavy hint that Baz had money didn’t impress him much. Though Mr. Jansen’s gaze brushed over Baz, Walter, and Kelly quickly, it lingered on Elijah, and the poker player’s brow furrowed.
When Elijah squirmed uncomfortably, his perpetual fear of being called out for being the one who didn’t belong in the spotlight, Jansen smiled and rose, extending his hand to Baz.
“Pleasure to have you as our guests. I see Rob’s giving you the five-dollar tour.” His attention lingered on Baz’s glasses a moment before shifting his focus once again to Elijah, making him feel like a puzzle piece that didn’t quite fit. “The suite was still empty as of yesterday, so this must have been a last-minute trip. Couldn’t wait to get out of the Midwest any longer? Wise plan.”
Kelly blinked at Jansen as he shook his hand. “How did you know where we were from?”
“It’s kind of my thing. For example, I can tell, sweetheart, that you’re in something steady such as business, but secretly you want to have this man’s babies and stay home with them.” As Kelly gasped, Jansen lingered over Walter. “Oh, but you’ve got a fire in you. Politics or law?”
Walter grinned. “Didn’t know I had to choose.” He turned to Kelly, as if he couldn’t hold back any longer. “Do you really want to stay home with our kids?”
Jansen laughed and clapped his shoulder before letting go and stepping back to put a hand on his table, where two middle-aged women and a quiet, grey-haired man regarded the exchange with interest. “Tell you what. I’m due for a break in a few minutes here. Why don’t the four of you have a drink on me in the bar, and I’ll come keep you company until your rooms are ready.” He raised his eyebrows innocently and nodded at the manager. “Unless you were into the tour and wanted to take a rain check.”
“Bar sounds good,” Elijah replied before anyone else could. He wanted to know what the casino-owner’s husband predicted about him.
He hoped what the guy saw was good.
Or at least not awful.
The manager, smile a little strained, led them across the casino to a small bar with The River emblazoned in lights over the door. The bar was full of people, but the manager led them to an alcove in the back, a round booth sectioned off with a velvet rope. After pulling red cording aside, Rob gestured for them to occupy the seat. As they settled into their places, a bright-eyed waitress came to take their order.
They all ended up ordering margaritas, and by the time they were half gone, Elijah had a happy, woozy feeling going on. It was nice to sit in a swanky booth, leaning on Baz while they chatted idly with their friends.
Kelly nudged Walter with his elbow, clutching his drink as he sought his husband’s gaze. “You know, I wouldn’t mind being a stay-at-home dad. I’d want to work at least a few years, maybe find something I could do part-time from the house, but I’d love to make my main job taking care of our family.”
Walter puffed up like a proud peacock and tugged Kelly’s fingers loose from the drink and drew them to his lips. “Then we’ll make that happen as soon as you’re ready for it.”
Baz ran a finger down Elijah’s nose. “Do you want kids too?”
Elijah swatted the finger away, but the question made his belly flutter. Did he want kids? Did Baz want kids? They hadn’t talked about it. Elijah wasn’t sure this was the place to start. He couldn’t get a read on his fiancé, though.
Elijah wished the poker guy was there to do it for him.
So Baz and Elijah’s story didn’t end in Lonely Hearts. Nope. Heidi Cullinan decided they needed more and I’m thrilled she thought so. This novella was the sweetest of the sweet. It was a never ending carnival ride or awesome!
We not only got Baz and Elijah we got Kelly and Walter, all the Love Lessons guys AND O.M. G… RANDY! Ethan, Sam, Mitch… the list goes on and on. It was the most epic crossover EVER!
Okay my fangirling portion of the review is over.
This was a perfect addition to Baz and Elijah’s story. Unanswered thoughts. Raw emotions. Untied issues. All dealt with and with the sound of wedding bells in the air.
At first Baz and Elijah weren’t handling the communication part very well. But with the help of certain people they got it together and that was a relief. The cast of characters in this novella truly made the story for me. I was smiling so hard it hurt. When you love a character or characters you miss them when the book ends. When they come back to say hey in another book you feel almost nostalgic.
This rocked my socks off for sure!
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.
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