Two opposite ends of the romantic scale collide at university and what ensues is a wonderful friends to lovers story that had me in raptures at the end. I heard so many good things about this book so when I had the opportunity to listen to the audio book I just couldn’t resist. Have a look to see what I have to say about it and don’t forget the giveaway!
Love Lessons by Heidi Cullinan
Title: Love Lessons
Author: Heidi Cullinan
Narration: Iggy Toma
Publisher: Insatiable Press
Release: 15th February 2015
Genre: M/M (Contemporary)
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. Warning: This story contains lingering glances, milder than usual sexual content for this author, and a steamy dance-floor kiss. Story has no dairy or egg content, but may contain almonds.
What a difference a family can make! For me this story was not only about the two MCs but about their family backgrounds and how this can shape young people.
Kelly arrives at Hope University all his dreams have come true. A University that is strong on equal opportunities and hard on discrimination. This means that being gay will be no problem for Kelly. However, he has to share a small single room with Walter who is also gay, a senior and has a completely different outlook on life and love due to his family experiences.
Kelly is a virgin and saving himself for Mr Right! Well, when I first heard this then I did laugh myself, as much as Kelly’s sentiments are to be admired, I thought this behaviour for a late teen rather unusual. Usually, they can’t wait to get their rocks off as soon as they can once they have left home. However, when I got to know Kelly’s family then this explains a lot. He comes from a very loving and supportive home, with loving and supportive parents. the type of family that believes as long as they stick together and the love as a family stays strong then they can survive anything. This becomes especially true when Kelly’s mum loses her job and finances become tight.
Walter is a completely different case. His family is rolling in money, materialistically he can have anything he wishes for. The only thing he doesn’t have is the love of his parents, only that of his younger sister who he tries to protect as best he can. His dad ran off with another woman and his mother is suffering from depression. I felt so sorry for Walter, very much used and abused by his mother being selfish and putting him through constant guilt trips. OMG! These guilt trips were horrendous, no wonder the boy had issues. Who wouldn’t? His love life until meets Kelly has just been nothing more than a string of one night stands. He doesn’t believe in love and due to his family experiences is afraid to open himself up emotionally to take that risk of being hurt if you fall in love. What he doesn’t reckon with is Kelly.
So we have two MCs at totally opposite ends of the romantic / cynical scale. This is what I loved about this book. Asking myself at the beginning if these two are ever going to come together, how on earth is this going to happen. When they first meet they are obviously a little wary of each other, but it soon becomes evident they are both attracted to each other but neither would admit it to themselves or others. This is a story about learning to accept and love the differences in someone. A story that takes it time while Walter comes to appreciate Kelly’s values and vice-versa. The dynamics between these two are fantastically written, dynamics that are constantly shifting, changing and forming as they gradually see each other’s virtues.
If you really want to know someone then meet the family, especially the parents. This has always been my philosophy at least and in this book we see exactly how this plays out. When Kelly stays with Walter’s mum and sister he feels quite uncomfortable with the behaviour of Walter’s mum, especially where Walter is concerned. He now understands a lot more from where Walter is coming from and sees how strong Walter is having to deal with all this. He also becomes protective in a way of Walter wanting to shelter him from all the negativity his mother surrounds him with. This obviously has the effect on Walter that he believes himself not good enough, not worthy enough of anyone else’s love and attention as he believed he would only mess things up, hurting the other person and himself in the process.
However, when Walter visits Kelly’s family this is where Walter really opens up. He realises there are happy and loving families out there and I seriously watery eyes at how Kelly’s family embraced Walter immediately, takes him in as a son and extend that love they have for Kelly and his sister to Walter just as effortlessly and unconditionally. It was as though Walter had come home. Maybe not his own family, but definitely in terms of love and acceptance.
Along with everything else in the story this for me was personally the two pivotal points in moving their relationship along. Two boys, two very different backgrounds, but due to the differences able to help and compliment each other in ways that only means that one thing is left; to fall head over heels in love. This they do and what a wonderful revelation this was. Absolutely beautifully done! This is a friends to lovers story that takes its time with no insta-love, is not rushed and had me crying when Walter, manned up, overcame his fears, took the plunge and said those three little words that meant so much Kelly for the first time. Big jump for joy from me and knew that the HEA was only around the corner.
As with all audio books, for me at least, it just takes me a little while to get used to the narrator’s voice. After about the first chapter then the voice of a narrator should become familiar to me like an old friend. This is the case with Iggy, at first I felt his speed of delivery was a little fast but I it soon settled down for me and I could sit back and enjoy the story. His voice characterisations are super and brings the book alive. Here we have two opposing characters, Kelly the hopeless romantic and Disney fan and Walter the romantic cynic. The characterisations of these voices were suitably apt without being forced or contrived. All in all I loved listening to this book and will most definitely be looking forward to book two with Iggy.
Meet Heidi Cullinan
Heidi Cullinan has always loved a good love story, provided it has a happy ending. She enjoys writing across many genres but loves above all to write happy, romantic endings for LGBT characters because there just aren't enough of those stories out there. When Heidi isn't writing, she enjoys cooking, reading, knitting, listening to music, and watching television with her husband and ten-year-old daughter. Heidi is a vocal advocate for LGBT rights and is proud to be from the first midwestern state with full marriage equality.
Find out more about Heidi, including her social networks, at www.heidicullinan.com.
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