Title ~ Short Stay (Love Lessons #3.5)
Author ~ Heidi Cullinan
Published ~ 24 May 2016
Genre ~ Contemporary M/M Romance
Book 3.5 in the Love Lessons Series
Hot messes have a hard time with happily ever after.
Baz Acker and Elijah Prince have it all. They’re engaged, and their wedding is guaranteed to be a spectacle no event will ever top. So why are they hunkered down in a quiet corner of the Acker mansion, restless and edgy while they wait out the holidays?
When Baz suggests a road trip with Walter and Kelly to Las Vegas, it sounds like an ideal escape, but it turns out Vegas only amplifies their unease. Elijah can’t slough off the self-hating his parents programmed into him, and he worries how that will affect his marriage. Baz, crippled en route because of too much time spent in the car without rest, must face the truth that his wealth and influence can’t always counteract the limits his disability will put on his—and Elijah’s—life.
With help from their friends, a wily poker player, a take-no-prisoners drag queen, and a smooth-talking casino owner, they face the truth that happiness is a state of mind, not a destination where they book a stay. What happens in Vegas won’t stay in Vegas—it will follow them all the way down the aisle.
This novella was written for and by the request of Heidi’s Patreon readers. It is a continuation of a story begun in the novel Lonely Hearts in the Love Lessons series, also incorporating characters from the Special Delivery series. It is suggested but not required that you read at least Lonely Hearts before reading this book.
Worlds collide as Baz and Elijah (the Love Lessons series) meet Randy and Ethan (the Special Delivery series) when they head to Vegas for a stay at Herod’s Casino. If you’re interested in this story I’m assuming you’ve read at least one of those two series of books, if not both. If seeing Randy Jansen’s name has you expecting a wild, kinky sort of story, remember you’re in the Love Lessons world, so even though Baz and Elijah have been known to enjoy a bit of kink themselves, this is a sweet story that ties a bow on Baz and Elijah’s happy ending in Lonely Hearts, with Randy and Ethan making dreams come true as they take a special interest in the two young men.
The story picks up shortly after Lonely Hearts. Baz sees Elijah beginning to panic and withdraw as Baz’s mother hijacks plans for their wedding. Her version of tame is still a three ring circus and Baz can’t see how to rein her in. Being with Baz’s family and being overwhelmed at thoughts of their upcoming New Year’s gala, wedding planning and life with the brash and powerful Acker family in general, is enough to make Elijah lose it. As if that’s not enough, an unexpected attempt at contact from someone in his family also has Elijah on edge. Fearing Elijah will run, Baz talks him into a road trip to Vegas with friends Walter and Kelly, to escape the madness and celebrate New Year’s together. Finding a gay friendly hotel/casino, the men arrive at Herod’s where they almost immediately meet Randy who insists that they get the VIP treatment, with him as their guide. Shopping, dancing, making sure Baz is comfortable in their suite, and a trip to the Stratosphere observation deck are just the start of what turns out to be an almost magical and eye-opening trip that will change both Baz and Elijah forever.
If you haven’t read the Special Delivery books and haven’t met Randy, you’ll probably be as shell shocked as Baz and Elijah seem to be as he does everything he can to make their hotel stay beyond perfect. Why he takes such an interest is eventually revealed and it will make you love Randy even more than you probably already do.
All the Love Lessons characters back making cameos, as are all six men from Special Delivery, but this is all about Baz and Elijah. They both still struggle with feelings that they are not worthy of the other and they aren’t the greatest when it comes to communicating their concerns. Elijah connects with Randy and gets some good advice from Chenco, while Baz connects with Ethan. Both Ethan and Randy act as mentors and, in Randy’s case, a fairy godfather figure who seems to have all of Vegas at his command.
To me the best parts of Elijah and Baz’s relationship is when they are alone together and find the courage to let their guard down, Baz taking off his sunglasses and Elijah finding the strength to open up and talk about his fears. When they do that and are vulnerable to each other, you really get a feel for how perfect they are together, despite how different they are. Of course when they’re getting down and dirty is great too, but this story was more about the tender loving and their emotional sides.
As with many Heidi Cullinan stories, this one ends with a sugary sweet happily ever after that may bring a tear of joy to your eye. It also opens up some possibilities for future stories and maybe another crossing of series borders. I wouldn’t recommend picking this up if you haven’t yet read Lonely Hearts, but it’s a must read for Love Lessons fans and those of you jonesing for another shot of Randy and a peek at where the men stand since the end of Tough Love.
Love Lessons Series
Love Lessons (Book #1)
Fever Pitch (Book #2)
Lonely Hearts (Book #3)
Meet Heidi Cullinan
Proud to be from the first Midwestern state with full marriage equality, Heidi writes positive-outcome romances for LGBT characters struggling against insurmountable odds because she believes there’s no such thing as too much happy ever after. A member of Romance Writers of America since 1999, Heidi has served as president of Rainbow Romance Writers, run local chapter newsletters, and volunteered for committees on the national level. In addition to teaching writing since 1993, she also served as the writer’s workshop coordinator for GayRomLit Retreat for 2013. Find out more about Heidi at heidicullinan.com.