Rating: 4.5 stars
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When Frankie Blackburn gets lost while driving home from spending time with his parents, he knows he is in trouble. Somehow he ended up going the completely wrong direction and is now lost in northern Minnesota in the middle of nowhere during a colossal snow storm. Frankie knows driving is dangerous, but he has no desire to spend the night in some small town where his flamboyant ways just scream “gay” and are likely to get him negative attention. When Frankie stops in a local cafe for directions and spots three huge, burly bears, it just reinforces his belief that getting out of town is the best idea.
The storm is horrible, however, and when Frankie’s car goes off the road, he just barely manages to make it through the driving snow to a remote cabin. And as it turns out, his rescuers are none other than the three bears from the cafe.
Marcus Gardner left his high pressure job in Minneapolis, returning to his hometown of Logan. Marcus realized he had spent too much time working a job he didn’t like, in a city that he hated. Returning home to Logan seemed like the best idea, especially since a horrible breakup left him feeling vulnerable and afraid to take a chance on another relationship. Now he lives with his two friends Paul and Arthur, working as a lumberjack and quietly nursing his wounds from Steve’s betrayal.
The snowstorm has made the roads impassable and the three men take Frankie in until it is over. Knowing he is trapped in the cabin with Frankie definitely makes Marcus wary. There are parts of Frankie that remind Marcus a lot of Steve, both being more femme men. And as much as he was hurt by Steve, Marcus finds himself incredibly attracted to Frankie. Yet he wavers between wanting to take care of Frankie and to keep his distance. So instead Marcus ends up growly and surly and total unsure of how to handle himself. For his part, Frankie can’t figure out why Marcus seems to hate him so much. He is so sexy and Frankie is definitely interested in Marcus, but the man will barely utter two words to him.
But when Frankie finally confronts Marcus, the two find that their attraction to each other is mutual. And as they spend their days snowed in at the cozy cabin, the two begin to fall hard for one another. But Frankie finally made it out of his own small town, and the idea of moving to another one where he will always gather negative attention for being gay and so flamboyant is not something he thinks he can handle. And Marcus knows he can not deal with city life again, and has only been happy since he returned home. As the storm finally clears, the men must figure out if this is the end of things between them, or if they can find a way to make it work together.
Let It Snow is such a lovely winter treat. It is a story that made me just want to curl up by the fire, drinking some hot chocolate, and reading my book. It is not without conflict, but it is light on the angst and just a sweet and heartwarming story.
I loved the setup to this book. Cullinan plays a bit with the Three Bears idea here in a very clever way. Frankie first spies these guys at the cafe, but then ends up in their cabin in the woods, complete with oatmeal bowls sitting in the sink. When he falls asleep, blond haired Frankie wakes up to the three burly bears. It is a clever start that kicks off the tone in a light and fun way. From there on, the stories diverge as Frankie and Marcus try to figure out just what to do with one another. Both are attracted, but neither one really knows how to act with each other. So Marcus growls at Frankie because Frankie won’t accept his overtures of hospitality. And Frankie doesn’t understand why Marcus seems mad all the time, even when Frankie is offering to help. But Cullinan cleverly keeps this misunderstanding portion short, and soon the guys realize that they in fact quite like one another.
From then on, Frankie and Marcus fall into a sexual relationship, and even a temporary “boyfriend” relationship as well. Both understand that it is only until the end of the storm. Frankie has a job and a life to return to in Minneapolis. And neither man is interested in moving. On top of that, both of these guys are plain scared. Marcus is scared of opening up his heart and getting hurt again. He is worried about taking a chance on another relationship that might not work out. And Frankie is scared as well, in his case of a small town, after growing up in a place where he was bullied and mistreated for being so obviously different. He is sure there is no way a place like Logan would ever accept him. So as the storm begins to clear, they are forced to decide if they can take the risks involved in being together, and if they can even find a way to merge their different lives.
Both of these guys are really likable and make a fun couple. They are so different in many ways, but at the same time just work perfectly together. Cullinan gives them lots of layers and they are both more than meets the eye. Frankie comes across as flighty and sort of needing a keeper at times. But he is sweet and loyal and has the most kind heart. He is also tough enough to stand up for himself, even though he doesn’t always realize it. And Marcus is this gruff lumberjack living in the woods, but also highly educated, super capable, and a softie underneath.
I loved the way all four of these men interacted with one another as they rode out the storm together. Paul and Arthur are a couple, though it is clear (and mentioned more than once in the book) that these guys aren’t really right for one another. They are sort of a couple by convenience, ending up together because they were friends and it was easy. I am guessing they will be featured in future books in the series, though I think not likely together, unless things changes a lot in their relationship. And just to clarify, there is no menage or multiple partner stuff going on here despite the “three bears” thing. Though the two couples do spend an awful lot of time listening to the others having sex, lol.
I did have a few small quibbles here. First off, I never felt like I had a real handle on how people in town really felt about Frankie, and whether his fears of acceptance were valid. I mean yes, they do end up embracing him, but it is largely because of some good and generous deeds he does. So much of Frankie’s personality is enmeshed with this fear of acceptance, and it really impacts his behavior throughout the book. So I really wanted to know if this was something all in his head, or a valid concern that just got smoothed over by his good deeds. I also think there were times where things were a little too simplistic. All the seniors in the retirement home were lovely and sweet and loved Frankie whole heartedly. And all the poor people were perceived to be (and in one case proved themselves to be) totally homophobic jerks. I would have like to see a little depth here rather than this sort of simple view of the townspeople.
But those were small quibbles and overall I really enjoyed this story. It is just so warm and sweet and romantic. Frankie and Marcus are fun and sexy together. The tone of the story works just perfectly with the setting, something warm and sweet to curl up with in the midst of the cold winter storm. I really enjoyed Let It Snow and definitely recommend it to you guys.