Category Archives: Heidi Cullinan

Family Man by Heidi Cullinan & Marie Sexton

family man

SYNOPSIS

Sometimes family chooses you.

How does a man get to be forty without knowing whether he’s gay? That’s a question Vince Fierro is almost afraid to answer. If he is gay, it’ll be a problem for his big, fat Italian family. Still, after three failed marriages, he can’t help but wonder if he’s been playing for the wrong team.

There’s only one way to settle it, once and for all—head for Chicago’s Boystown bars, far from anyone who knows him. Naturally, he runs smack into someone from the neighborhood.

Between working two jobs, going to school, taking care of his grandmother, and dealing with his mother’s ongoing substance abuse, Trey Giles has little time for fun, let alone dating someone who swears he’s straight. Yet after one night of dancing cheek-to-cheek to the sultry strains of Coltrane, Trey finds himself wanting to help Vinnie figure things out—no promises, and no sex.

It seems like a simple plan, until their “no-sex” night turns into the best date of their lives and forges a connection that complicates everything.

Warning: This book deals with alcoholism, broken promises, and overbearing little sisters. 

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Reviewed by Jenny and Gitte – 5 stars

Gitte: I couldn’t wait to get my hands on this one Jenny. First of all, I love everything Heidi Cullinan writes and I keep being recommended titles by Marie Sexton. Also, I absolutely LOVE this cover so I was extremely excited to start it. I was NOT disappointed. I absolutely loved Family Man. It was a refreshing change to some of the recent M/M stories I have read; the writing style was perfect; it was emotional and beautiful. It had everything you could possibly want to feel and experience when reading. I loved the characters, I connected with them both and their story was addictive and had me hooked from the start. It was pretty perfect but I advise getting those tissues handy!

Jenny:   Same here Gitte.  I fell in love with Heidi’s writing style in Dance With Me and wanted more! Marie Sexton had come highly recommended to us and we’ve been dying to read some of her books and what a perfect way to be introduced to this author. This book for me was perfection.   Like you, the cover immediately drew me in, it’s gorgeous!   When I finished this book the first word that popped into my head was “breathtaking“.  The characters were so sincere and so genuinely beautiful, the story so real and I just can’t say enough how much I loved this book, how much I enjoyed this whole reading experience.  And yes…definitely have some tissues on hand.

Gitte: This is Vince and Trey’s story; two characters who grew up under entirely different circumstances very much like night and day in respect to their families, their life style and their confidence and actions. Vince comes from a huge loving Italian family, the kind that rounds the troupe up when one of their own is going through troubles. Trey on the other hand has been struggling through life, his Dad died at a young age so he has lived and endured an alcoholic Mum which has marred his life and seen him having to grow up way to fast.  The only constant has been his loving Grandmother.

Vince is older than Trey and has been married several times but these marriages have never lasted long. Nothing has ever seemed right for him though, he has felt inadequate and confused until a specific event makes him question everything including himself.

Vince decides to try and figure himself out – his sexuality to be exact, prompted by a heart to heart with his sister. He finds himself in a bar trying to work out if he is crazy or going through a phase when he bumps into Trey who is a familiar face from his family’s restaurant. Their journey pretty much begins on this night when Vince makes a realisation and knows he is attracted to Trey who sparks his mind and body to life. Trey sees something he has been missing and he knows he wants Vince because this man represents everything he believes in, makes him feel safe, accepted for his morals and ultimately he feels protected.

Jenny:  The thing I loved about Marie and Heidi’s writing in this story is that I could picture everything.  They gave us enough without giving too much. They enabled me to live this story rather than just read it.  When Vince was talking to his sister Rachel (who I just adored!) I felt like was leaning up against the wall having a ciggy with them, that I was more or less eavesdropping in on their conversation.  I felt like a willing participant in every snippet of conversation. I felt it all.

Vince and Trey are very different but if felt as if they were only really whole when they were together.  Like two missing parts of the puzzle.  These characters and their stories really did take a piece of my heart.  I adored them both for different reasons.  The stoic, tortured and sensitive Trey who had so much to contend with on those young shoulders rendered me speechless.  I wanted to reach in the pages and hug him, tell him everything was going to be okay.  I was so moved and felt so much for this beautiful soul and his struggles

“Don’t wait up” I said.  I didn’t bother to acknowledge the disappointment on her face.  God knew she’d never bothered to acknowledge mine. (Trey)

And promise.  That’s the worst one of all. Because a promise is supposed to be real. A vow. Almost sacred. (Trey)

Conflicted Vince.  I just loved this man.  Nearing forty with three failed marriages behind him and questioning his sexuality and the strong feelings he has towards Trey. This man had a heart the size of Texas.  For all the inner turmoil he was feeling, this man never wavered in his support of Trey. He knew just how much to give and when to pull back.  He was like a breath of fresh air for Trey.

This beautiful man had denied his feelings and the fear of coming out the closet to his large Italian family weighed heavily on his mind and the one thing I got out of this was that it all felt so real.  None of it felt contrived. You really could actually visualize and feel Vince facing his family and it was all done with such warmth, sincerity and sensitivity. So moving.

“I want to promise you the world, but I know you hate promises” (Vince)

Hope is a lie. All hope does it make it easier for them to crush you (Trey)

Gitte: I loved Vince and Trey with all my heart. Their story not only made me smile but the obstacles placed in their path broke my heart and I cried so many tears for them, both happy and gutted.

These two Authors wrote this story with such passion and emotion that I inhaled every word with a lump in my throat, wanting to keep reading to see them get their HEA. I cannot recommend this M/M story highly enough so if you enjoy this genre then this one is a sure must read.

Jenny:  This story was flawless.  All these characters stole my heart. It was a story of love, hope, strength and honesty combined with deep emotion, affection and passion.  I hung on every word and I ached for these two beautiful men.  I hoped with them and I loved with them and I certainly shed many tears for them – both happy and sad.  This is up there as one of my favorite M/M reads.  It definitely hit the mark for me.  I loved it and can’t recommend it highly enough.

 

FAMILY MAN by HEIDI CULLINAN
Amazon us || Amazon uk family man

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Filed under 5 Stars, Heidi Cullinan, Marie Sexton, Our Reviewers, Pick an Author, Reviews by Gitte, Reviews by Jenny

Dance With Me by Heidi Cullinan

SYNOPSIS

Ed Maurer’s life would be fine if he could just get Laurie Parker off his back. He’s bounced back, more or less, from the neck injury that permanently benched his semi-pro football career, and he volunteers now at a local community center. It’s just that every time he turns around, that damn professional dancer is in his way, hating Ed right back. But when a bargain Ed strikes at the center lands him as an assistant in Laurie’s ballroom dancing class, their perceptions of each other turn upside down. Both Ed and Laurie have heartbreak in their pasts, but somehow dancing together eases their individual pain. For Ed, dancing with Laurie becomes a way to reconnect with his body after losing football. For Laurie, partnering with Ed has erased some of his fear of performing and brought back joy to a sport he wasn’t sure he could ever truly love again.

As Laurie and Ed lose themselves in dance, their lives continue to spin around them: Ed’s injury makes it clear he’s nowhere near recovery, Laurie feels the pressure by friends and family to perform once more, and the community center that has become such an important part of both their worlds threatens to close. Alone, they haven’t had the strength or spirit to face what life has hurled at them. But as the turns of their personal paths lead them into the arms of love, Ed and Laurie begin to think that if they dance this dance together, they might be able to succeed.

Review – 5 Stars

Jenny:   GG, what did you think of Dance with me?

Gitte:  This story made my heart melt, hurt & beat very fast. It also made me tear up and get the sniffles!

Jenny:   It was emotional and wonderful, with some of the most beautiful characters you could meet.  I just loved it and oh yes, there were definitely sniffles.

Gitte:    All of me was so invested in the journey of Ed and Laurie, I felt it; every step of the way. At times so melancholy I wanted to pick both boys out the story and put them in my pocket to keep them safe. The sexual tension jumped off the page, the man loving was HOT!!  This all comes down to the brilliant writing of this Author and I wish I could give it more than 5 stars!! Who made this rule anyway?  I shall give it 8!! Yes, I just couldn’t put it down.

Jenny:  I thought the story had  a slow build up but I think you needed it.  You needed to learn about the characters and their insecurities.  They were both so insecure although Ed’s were deeply hidden, he was just as broken and insecure as Laurie was.   The author really made us know the characters so you really connected with them and felt what they felt.  The man loving was HOT to say the least!  And yes….where did the 5 star thing come from…this definitely deserves an 8 haha.

Gitte:  I loved both Ed and Laurie. I fell in love with them from the beginning.  They came together with each their own pain, fears, denial, courage, sensuality & passion – together they were BEAUTIFUL!!!

Jenny:  These two were definitely the odd couple yet together they fit so well.  I adored these two.  Beautiful, sensitive dancer Laurie and Alpha, tender ex semipro footballer  Ed.  What a pair.  When they were together the sex and the sexual chemistry was off the charts,  yet they had so much tenderness between them that  they just melted my heart.

Gitte:  Ed this huge muscly ex-football player who has a sarcastic sense of humour…the least stereotypical gay man there is. I loved him and have to say the drunk scene in the bar, *sigh* he was so adorable; so honest, cheeky and full of it. LOVED him!!!  It made me so sad that he saw his ‘disability’ as a character fault. He had a severe inferiority complex and refused to acknowledge that this was so. It broke my heart!

Jenny:  The author did such an amazing job writing Ed’s character.  I loved Ed.  He really was the least stereotypical gay man wasn’t he GG?  I absolutely connected with Ed and loved his cheeky sense of humour.  The scene in the pub was just brilliant!  So much was revealed in that scene.  It was so subtle yet so powerful.

Gitte:  How did you feel about him unapologetically listening to Britney… that had me in stitches!!

Jenny:  The Brittney obsession cracked me up.  So not what you would expect and yet it was so perfect.  That gave me a giggle.

Gitte:  Then there’s Laurie who seems almost feminine like, despite his lithe and built dancer physique. His self-esteem and confidence has taken a huge knock and he is lost and broken. His loyalty and huge heart had me falling in love with him and even though I have 2 left feet I WANTED to dance with him!!

Jenny :  Laurie, full of self- doubt and so sensitive and beautiful.  So vulnerable.  My heart ached for Laurie.  I wanted everything to be right in Laurie’s world.  He couldn’t’ believe that someone would actually want him yet this man had so much to offer.  Yes, Laurie found his way into my heart that’s for sure. Loved how their music tastes were so different…..Laurie and his love of Barbra!

GItte:  I loved how at first sight they both adopted the assumed attitude to common stereotype. They basically kind of hated each other.  But watching them come together in a quite accidental funny way and ummm yummy too, well I swooned when as soon as they stepped into each other’s arms in dance they both found their natural place in each other’s life.

Jenny:  I loved the accidental meeting.  You “felt” it in that scene…the sexual tension, the honesty, the tenderness . They did find their natural place in the dance and how the author described this just melted me.
Why do you stay with me”?  “Because I don’t want to dance alone”?  Wow, that line did me in.

Gitte:  To Ed, Laurie was the most beautiful man he had ever seen when he dances.

Jenny:   To read how Laurie danced.  You didn’t just read it.  The author made you see it, made you feel it.  In my head I could see Laurie and I could see Ed’s reaction to him dancing.  You can just imagine Laurie being the most beautiful man on earth when he danced and you see that through Ed’s eyes, such was the beauty of the writing..

Gitte:    They get lost in a journey of self-discovery, self-awareness, pleasure, happiness and above all LOVE. This journey did not come easy; it was riddled with bumps, but the love of a good man by their side ultimately conquered all.

Jenny: You would not expect Ed to be so right for Laurie, yet as we come to know Ed you realise he is just perfect for Laurie and has so much love to give. Just beautiful.  These two loved fiercely.
“He was male and he was beautiful and when he danced he made male beauty come alive”.

Gitte:  The way they looked out for each other. The protectiveness.  They were individually broken but together they helped rebuild each other again from life’s disappointments and cruelty; step by step through utter devotion.

Jenny:  I loved it when these two danced together.  You could feel their connection to each other.  You are so right, individually so broken, together so healed and so right.  They definitely had a lot of obstacles to face, but they did it together and grew stronger because of it.  They certainly brought out the best in each other – they also had to overcome relationship problems outside of each other as well and when they were together they both came alive.
The secondary characters were just wonderful also, especially Ed’s football buddies. They added so much to the story!

Gitte:   Together they created a beautiful dance!   5 Stars

Jenny:  Yes GG, they absolutely did.   Absolutely agree….5 stars!

Warning:  This book contains sexually explicit scenes.

 

DANCE WITH ME by HEIDI CULLINAN
Amazon us || Amazon uk

Dance with me

 

 

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Filed under 5 Stars, Heidi Cullinan, Our Reviewers, Reviews by Gitte, Reviews by Jenny