Tag Team Review: The Christmas Fling (Christmas Town #1) by Heidi Cullinan

Sometimes it takes a village to fall in love.

Eccentric, reclusive, socially awkward project designer Evan Myles doesn’t date. Paying for sex with professionals is so much more efficient and suits his needs well enough. But when he’s on assignment in rural Logan, Minnesota, for the Christmas Town project and a handsome stranger at the bar catches his attention, Evan decides it’s time to break his rule. It doesn’t matter that he’s never so much as flirted before. It can’t be that hard, can it?

Davidson Incorporated lead architect Terry Reid hasn’t been hit on so clumsily in his life. Terry’s the first to admit he’s a neurotic Prince Charming, and he’s kissed his share of male and female frogs, but he’s never met anyone quite like Evan Myles. Evan calls Terry by the wrong name, mistakes Terry for a simple construction worker, and picks apart his work as an architect. Despite this rough start, Terry is lured by the brilliance of Evan’s ideas, his quirky personality, and once they’re alone in Evan’s cabin, the man’s mad skills in bed. Yet Terry knows it takes more than a single night of passion to make a relationship work, and after so many failures, he’s just not ready to try again.

Evan and Terry’s path is strewn with stones neither of them can dislodge. Fortunately, they’re not alone on the road to romance. They’re in Christmas Town, home to matchmakers, meddlers, and more “fairy godfathers” than they could possibly know what to do with.

Most importantly, in Logan, Minnesota, happy ever after is guaranteed.

Adam - 2 Hearts

‘The Christmas Fling’ is a spinoff from Cullinan’s Minnesota Christmas series. The previous series provides context for the ‘Christmas Town’ plot, and existing characters do appear in secondary roles, but I think this book could work fine as a standalone.

The premise of this book requires a bit of a suspension of disbelief. The entire story rests on Evan’s inability to recognize Terry as Kevin. Granted, “Kevin” had a full beard and was skinnier when a drunken Evan met him on a dark night, but it’s a bit of a stretch. The explanation is that Evan’s just not that great with faces.

But I didn’t mind the somewhat flimsy premise. It was a different twist on the one-night stand trope, and I was just excited to get back to the land of never-ending Christmas and gay men galore - Logan, Minnesota.


Plus, that one-night stand definitely brought the heat. Terry - or “Kevin” - gets off on humiliation and submission, though he doesn’t play often. Evan, with his slightly awkward but very upfront manner, makes Terry feel safe enough to indulge in a night of kinky passion.

But Terry struggles with accepting his kink, and with social anxiety, so he runs in the middle of the night. When Terry meets Evan again a few weeks later, it’s as a well-groomed architect, not as the scruffy construction worker Evan had assumed he was.

Their first meeting doesn’t go well. Evan has no clue who Terry is, and Terry’s a bit hurt by that, even if he’d been dreading meeting Evan again. But even so, Terry decides to not let Evan in on the truth about “Kevin”.

I could understand where Terry was coming from at first. Anxiety disorders can force people into poor decisions. Also, it was clear that Terry really did care for Evan, regardless of how he handled the situation.

Evan is easier to understand and connect to. His pining for Kevin was sweet, as was his slow realization that he really liked Terry, once Terry wasn’t so stand-offish.

Both men have their hang-ups and struggle with social cues, but they click well together. I thought the slow build-up of their relationship was sweet - from strangers, to coworkers, to tentative friends, and then more.

What I really didn’t enjoy was how the whole issue of Kevin/Terry just dragged on and on. Though I could empathize with Terry’s inability to tell Evan that he was Kevin, the whole thing just went on way too long for me to be comfortable with it.

The constant repetitiveness of Terry’s inner monologues, and his actions in order to hide his identity, just got tiresome, and detracted from what was otherwise a cute romance.

Though I was glad to see the two get their happy ending, I was no longer invested in their story by that point.

Ann - 2.5 Hearts

I love Logan, MN and its inhabitants with all my Christmas heart so I was very excited to get my hands on The Christmas Fling. I’ve missed this author’s prose and have always fallen into her stories easily and have a hard time putting them down.

The Christmas Fling begins with a sorta kinda mistaken identity premise which leads to some incredibly filthy and delicious play between Evan and Terry (who wasn’t Terry at the time to Evan) and the premise was set. But, then it kind of was derailed. I had some fundamental issues that I had a hard time reconciling in the end.

Both MC’s are very complex characters and I appreciate the author taking on both of these guys and making them mesh. That was no small feat, I can tell you that. I had too many problems with the dynamics between the MC’s and their friends to let them go and it did affect my attitude while I was reading.

Evan does not recognize Terry after their one night and while Terry felt the connection, he is also afraid to connect. So, they work together and pretty much everyone knows but Evan and Terry is so tightly wound about the whole thing he can’t function or bring himself to come clean to Evan. This deception by omission went on way too long. And while it wasn’t meant to be, it felt cruel to do that to Evan as it’s not like he didn’t recognize Terry because he’s such a player, he literally can’t and the whole thing felt incredibly unfair.

Terry has his own mental health struggles and I couldn’t help but feel for him as well. He obviously needed help and was in no way able to get to that at the time, but his “handlers” weren’t nearly as helpful as I expected them to be. I’m giving you the side eye right now Levi. You allegedly have experience with what Terry struggles with and you never really talk to him about it??? WTF??? The only suggestion Levi had was to talk to his therapist bro (which was always hidden under the guise of dating him) or he gave Terry crap for being a fuck up with his personal life. It was all in jest and if he was a casual friend, I wouldn’t be able to blame him, but, sorry this is slightly spoilerish, but not really, it turns out he has personal experience and I just thought back to their previous interactions and got pissed. Dude, Levi, my friend, you did not do well by Terry.

I wanted Evan and Terry to get together and I so enjoyed reading the time they spent together as they “got to know” one another. Unfortunately, the whole misunderstanding hung over them and that was a bummer. It was a good thing these two were also brilliant at their careers with ideal dream jobs and handlers who took care of regular everyday life for them. Good for them, but very much a fairy tale for most, especially those struggling with mental health or social issues. Most people don’t have the luxury to make themselves a bed nest and not go out for days or just disappear when things get to be too much. Most people don’t have that kind of financial security. Those aren’t options and the fact that two characters had those safety nets kind of cheapened the reality of those struggles.

I absolutely loved being back in Logan and I will most definitely be reading the next in the series. I hope to get more of Evan and Terry together because the ending was wonderful if a little abrupt considering everything that built to that moment, but damn it was sweet and I would really like to revisit these guys once they settle into themselves and one another.

**a copy of this story was provided for an honest review**

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