Thursday, October 17, 2013

REVIEW: "Love Lessons" by Heidi Cullinan

Love Lessons
Love Lessons by Heidi Cullinan
For Ages 18+
Male/Male Romance -- Contemporary
Samhain -- October 1, 2013
Ebook, 379 pages
Purchased from Amazon

THEMES
Virgin Hero, Beta Hero, Angst

SUMMARY
Love doesn’t come with a syllabus.

Kelly Davidson has waited what seems like forever to graduate high school and get out of his small-minded, small town. But when he arrives at Hope University, he quickly realizes finding his Prince Charming isn’t so easy. Everyone here is already out. In fact, Kelly could be the only virgin on campus.

Worst of all, he’s landed the charming, handsome, gay campus Casanova as a roommate, whose bed might as well be equipped with a revolving door.

Walter Lucas doesn’t believe in storybook love. Everyone is better off having as much fun as possible with as many people as possible…except his shy, sad little sack of a roommate is seriously screwing up his world view.

As Walter sets out to lure Kelly out of his shell, staying just friends is harder than he anticipated. He discovers love is a crash course in determination. To make the grade, he’ll have to finally show up for class…and overcome his own private fear that love was never meant to last.

FIRST LINE
"Freshman orientation at Hope University was an all-you-can-eat buffet, and Walter Lucas planned to gorge himself."

MY THOUGHTS
I was intrigued by the premise of Love Lessons from the moment I heard about it.  I love books set at universities especially in the M/M genre since it often has heroes who are allowed to be themselves for the first time in awhile.  The fact that this book was written by one of my favorite M/M authors just made me more excited to try it.

The basic premise of Love Lessons is two very different guys with very different backgrounds who are thrown together and figure out how much they understand one another.  On one end, there is Walter, a Communications major, who has slept his way through the student body of Hope University.  And then there's Kelly, a freshman with major allergy issues, who is just coming out of the closet when he arrives.  These two meet when Walter is assigned to be Kelly's roommate and they become fast friends despite their differences.  As the fall semester goes on, they spend more time together and it becomes obvious that they are both developing feelings for the other.

I thought both Walter and Kelly were wonderful characters.  Kelly, at first, gives off the impression of being innocent and naive, but he quickly shows that there is a lot of steel in his personality.  His health problems have made him appreciate living a normal life and that mindset is there in almost everything he does.  I also loved that he was a Disney fanatic who understood the problem with that being your ultimate fantasy, but secretly wished for it anyway.  Walter's carefree public persona is highly entertaining though I loved it when there were glimpses of his true character early on.  He has serious abandonment issues after all the family stuff he's been dealing with so it was understandable that he would resist his feelings for Kelly.  His personality was just so sweet and protective even though he tried.

Walter and Kelly were even better as a couple.  I love a good friends-to-lovers story which definitely defines this book.  All the little friendship moments like eating at the university cafeteria or partying at a local restaurant just helped the reader understand why they would develop the feelings that they do.  And, when these two decided to take the plunge, it was amazing!  The sexual tension had been building for so long that their steamy dance floor kiss felt like such a relief for both the guys and the reader.  I also liked that they really listened to each other when it came to issues with their relationship.  Communication can be such a problem in romantic fiction so it was nice to see a different approach.  I will admit, though, that I was hoping for a bit more spice in the love scenes.  They were wonderfully written and very sweet, but I thought they lacked the hotness that I am familiar with in a Heidi Cullinan story.

I also really liked how Cullinan provided so many amazing side characters to interact with Walter and Kelly.  There is a nice mix of people (which is common on a college campus).  My personal favorites were Kelly's friend, Rose, who loves to have a cause to support and Walter's favorite professor, Mr. Williams, whose fight to keep his position provides a nice subplot.  Kelly's family was a lot of fun to learn about with their close bond that seemed able to withstand any hardships.  Readers also learn about Walter's family who are not as easy to like, but their relationship helps explain a lot about Walter.

This book is set primarily on the campus of Hope University, a liberal-minded college in the Midwest that has built a reputation for being a haven for LGBT students.  I loved how the author set everything up with the university with it appearing (at first) as a beacon for these students, but that things like Williams's position and Walter's housing situation showed that things are never perfect and there is always room for change.  I know that she is planning a companion book to this one and I hope it is set at the university as well so we can continue to learn more about its mission and how it tries to reach those goals.

In conclusion, I thought this was another stellar romance from Heidi Cullinan who has become another auto-buy author for me.  Her characters are so well-developed that it feels like they could be walking around any campus right now and the romance was just perfect.  I definitely recommend it for fans of M/M romance.


4 STARS


FAVORITE QUOTE
"You were set to stay on my account when you thought I wanted to stay.  You came here for Cara.  You stayed in Chicago for your mom.  You gave up this whole semester for Williams, for the department."  Kelly reached up and touched Walter's cheek.  "Don't you think it's time someone gave up everything for you?"

1 comment:

  1. This looks really good. Sounds like there's some awesome character development.

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