Shelter the Sea by Heidi Cullinan

I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review.
This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Shelter The Sea: by Heidi Cullinan
Series: The Roosevlet #2
Release Date: April 18th, 2017
Pages: 190 • Format: eARC
Published By: Heidi Cullinan
Purchase Links:
Amazon USAmazon UKBarnes & NobleSmashwords

Some heroes wear capes. Some prefer sensory sacks.

Emmet Washington has never let the world define him, even though he, his boyfriend, Jeremey, and his friends aren’t considered “real” adults because of their disabilities. When the State of Iowa restructures its mental health system and puts the independent living facility where they live in jeopardy, Emmet refuses to be forced into substandard, privatized corporate care. With the help of Jeremey and their friends, he starts a local grassroots organization and fights every step of the way.

In addition to navigating his boyfriend’s increased depression and anxiety, Emmet has to make his autistic tics acceptable to politicians and donors, and he wonders if they’re raising awareness or putting their disabilities on display. When their campaign attracts the attention of the opposition’s powerful corporate lobbyist, Emmet relies on his skill with calculations and predictions and trusts he can save the day—for himself, his friends, and everyone with disabilities.

four-stars

Shelter the Sea is such a good follow up to Carry the Ocean. Loved seeing Emmett and Jeremey’s love continue to grow.

This book was much lighter than book one.  Not saying that the guys didn’t have difficulties, but I am so ecstatic that Heidi didn’t torture our guys apart to give us a story. This was a lot more realistic then book one if you want to say that. This book dealt with the difficulties of living with a mental illness. This was such an eye opener for people who don’t seem to matter or get pushed to the wayside. This story was a lot bigger then Emmett & Jeremey to me. Of course every couple goes through little snits together and its healthy. This was them plus the people in their everyday life and everyone else they inspire around the world. It was very emotional at times.

Half of the book focuses on their relationship. Some of it is happy, sad, funny and its them. We see Jeremey struggle with his depression a lot more. We also see him open up and he’s a lot more vocal in his wants and needs. Emmett, oh such a sweetheart. I love Emmett’s resilience. He does not give up. This man is the ultimate fighter and champion of his beliefs and causes. Their relationship grows, and we see them grow individually on page to grown men  and better partners for one another.

This was political heavy. Not to preachy, but very detailed and informed on what goes down. I think Heidi did wonderful with his research for this subject. It’s an emotional journey to say the least. It shows how messed up the government is when it comes to Mental Health and its patients, families and allies. It shows the ugly truth about money being the root of everything in this country. It also shows people of different everything coming together for a cause. It shows them banning together to fight to get the same rights as everyone else.

Shelter the Sea is a good closure to their story. It wasn’t very romancy, but it had its moments where it mattered. I think fans of the book one will be very happy with the outcome to this story. I can’t wait to see what’s in store for the future of the series as well. Hats off to you, Heidi.

 

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About Heidi Cullinan

Heidi grew up in love with story. She fell asleep listening to Disney long-playing records and read her Little House On The Prairie books until they fell apart. She ran through the woods inventing stories of witches and fairies and enchanted trees and spent hours beneath the lilac bush imagining the lives of the settlers who had inhabited the homestead log cabin and two-story late 1800s home on her family farm. She created epic storylines for her Barbies until it wasn’t satisfying enough to do so any longer (age ten), and then she started writing them down. Her first novel, The Life and Times of Michelle Matthews, was published when she was twelve in the school anthology and took up nearly half of it.

Though Heidi continued to write novels through high school (and still has the Rubbermaid tub full in her bedroom), she stopped in college, deciding it was time to grow up and do something meaningful with her life. When the specifics of that didn’t pan out, Heidi ended up in grad school to become a teacher, and through one of the courses rediscovered her love of romance novels. She began to write again on the side, continued to do so while she taught seventh grade language arts and reading, and when she quit teaching to have her daughter, she took up writing with more seriousness, both as a stress relief and as a potential means of bringing in money.

Many million pages later, Heidi has learned a lot about writing, more than she ever wanted to know about publishing, and most importantly, finally figured out that writing IS the meaningful something she wants to do with her life. A passionate advocate for LGBT rights, Heidi volunteered for One Iowa during the fight for marriage equality and donates with her husband as a monthly partner to the Human Rights Campaign and Lambda Legal. She encourages you to support your own local and national LGBT rights groups, too

Heidi enjoys reading, watching movies and TV with her family, and listening all kinds of music. She has a husband, a daughter, and too many cats. Heidi is an active social networker, and of course has good old-fashioned email.

Blog Tour & Giveaway: Shelter The Sea by Heidi Cullinan

Oh My Shelves welcomes author Heidi Cullinan to the blog today. She brings her highly anticipated release Shelter The Sea out today. Along with her is a sneak preview of chapter one of Shelter the Sea  and a great giveaway. Please give Heidi a really big OMS welcome!!!!

 

Chapter One

Emmet

My boyfriend, Jeremey, thinks the moon looks like a watermelon.

He said this the night we visited my aunt for Christmas. My aunt who lives in Minneapolis, not the one who lives in Ames, though Althea was there that night too. Aunt Stacy has a telescope, and she let me use it to show Jeremey the moon up close. I was listing the names of the seas and craters when he told me what the moon reminded him of.

“It looks like a watermelon.”

I tried to work out how the moon could be similar to a watermelon, but I couldn’t do it. “Jeremey, it isn’t even green.”

“But it has the lines across it, the same as a watermelon, and they all come from a single point, the stub where the stem would have been, leading back to the rest of the plant. See? That spot there. The bright one at the bottom.”

He let me use the telescope again. I still didn’t see a watermelon. “That’s Tycho. It’s a crater.”

“Like the toy company?”

“No. The toy company is spelled T-y-c-o. This is T-y-c-h-o, for the Dutch astronomer. It was seventy percent likely formed by the asteroid 298 Baptistina, which they used to think was the same one that made the dinosaurs go extinct, but then they found out it wasn’t.”

“It will always be a watermelon to me now. But I’ll remember the stem’s name is Tycho.” Jeremey leaned on my shoulder, gazing at the moon without the telescope. “I didn’t realize there were so many seas on the moon. I didn’t think it had any water.”

“It doesn’t on the surface. Solar radiation burned all the water off, but they thought it might be in lunar rocks. Surface ice has been discovered recently, however.”

“Why do scientists always look for water on the moon and other planets?”

“Because it’s the essential element for any human habitation. Unfortunately, so far lunar habitation isn’t looking good.”

“But they have all those seas on the moon. Does that mean it used to have water?”

“No. Those are lunar maria, basaltic plains. The early astronomers thought they were ancient seas, but they were in fact formed by ancient volcanic eruptions.”

Jeremey settled his head more heavily on my shoulder, listening, and so I kept talking. I told him about the lunar dust, how it covers the surface and comes from comets hitting the surface, five tons of dust rising and falling every day. How the dust takes ten minutes to land.

Jeremey shook his head. “What do you mean, ten minutes to land? That’s how long until the dust hits?”

“No. It hits, then rises, but because there’s so little gravity, it takes five minutes for it to rise and then five minutes to fall back down. Which means the moon has on average one hundred and twenty kilograms of lunar dust rising one hundred kilometers above the surface at all times.”

“Wow. You know a lot about the moon.”

I knew a lot more than what I’d said so far, and when I told him this, he asked to hear the rest. We sat there for another hour, me telling him everything I knew, until my voice was scratchy and I needed water. He went inside and got some for me, and then he talked while I drank it.

“It’s so weird to think the moon has all those seas but no water. The names are so pretty. I almost prefer the Latin ones because they’re so mystical. Mare Nubium. Though Sea of Clouds is nice too.” He hugged his arms around his body. “Are there places on Earth called seas or oceans without any water?”

“They call the deserts sand seas, sometimes.”

“That sounds sad, though.”

He swayed back and forth, and I rocked and hummed with him because I was so content.

Then he spoke once more, his voice quiet. “I heard your mom talking inside. About The Roosevelt. Bob is worried about money.”

I stopped rocking, but my insides felt jumbly the way they always did when this subject came up. The Roosevelt was the place where Jeremey and I lived, and Bob was the man who owned it, the father of David, one of our best friends. “David would tell us if something serious was wrong. Bob’s having a fundraiser on New Year’s Eve.”

“Your mom is worried it won’t be enough. Not with the budget cuts the state is proposing and the way they’re restructuring the mental health system as a whole.” Jeremey hugged himself tighter. “I don’t want to lose The Roosevelt.”

I didn’t want to lose The Roosevelt either. I didn’t think it was a good idea to worry, though. “Why don’t we wait to talk to David. There’s not much we can do about anything up here on the roof. We should enjoy the moon and think about how slowly the dust is rising and falling.”

We did exactly that, and I noticed Jeremey relaxed. The next time he had something to say, it was about the moon, not about fears of losing our home. “Sometimes we say people have seas of emotion. What would sea of emotion be in Latin?”

“Mare Adfectus. And sand sea would be Mare Harenam.”

“I like sand sea in Latin better. But mostly I enjoy hearing you tell me all about things like the seas of the moon. Even if they are salt.”

“Basalt isn’t salt. It’s silica.”

“Can you tell me all about basalt and silica?”

I could, and I did.

Most people don’t want to hear me talk about the things I know, but most people aren’t Jeremey. He doesn’t mind that I’m autistic. He says it’s one of his favorite things about me. He says sometimes my autism is the best medicine for his depression and anxiety, which was why we’d gone up to the telescope in the first place. Jeremey was anxious in my aunt’s house, and he’d been depressed for a few days as well, he’d told me. He’d been depressed more often than not for several months now, in fact, and it didn’t matter how they adjusted his meds or how often he went to see his therapist, Dr. North. Depression, and sometimes anxiety too, kept getting the better of him. I wondered if it was because he was worried about the rumors we kept hearing about The Roosevelt being in trouble, though it was hard to say with depression. It could be for no reason except because depression eats happiness.

But Jeremey said when we sat together in the moonlight and I told him all the facts about the moon and basalt, he felt better.

Jeremey and I have been boyfriends for over two years now. We’ve lived together for most of that time in The Roosevelt. Neither of us is okay to function in the world alone, but together and with the help of our friends and family, and the staff at The Roosevelt, we’re independent and happy.

Except that night with Jeremey wrapped in a blanket and arranged carefully in my arms, I decided I didn’t want to be quite so independent anymore. I wanted to keep Jeremey with me, to take care of him and to let him take care of me. I wanted to be dependent on him. I wanted him to be there to tell me the moon looks like a watermelon and then ask me to talk for another hour about basalt. I wanted to do everything with Jeremey, forever. This is a special kind of thing between boyfriends, when you feel this way. This meant I wanted to marry Jeremey.

With people on the mean, coming to such a realization would be simple. I would have bought a ring, asked him, and we’d have gotten married. But I’m not a person on the mean, and neither is Jeremey. And when I made the decision to marry Jeremey, it was only December. There were so many changes about to happen, earthquakes coming because the world wasn’t content to let people such as Jeremey and me simply enjoy the next step in our happy ever after. Not without a lot of complications.

This story is about how we undid those complications and got ourselves the rest of our happy ever after anyway.

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Asking Jeremey to marry me was a big question, and it deserved some serious consideration and preparation. I knew getting married was complicated no matter what, but I didn’t know what kind of accommodation my autism and his depression and anxiety would require from a practical standpoint. I was nervous, but not because I thought asking him was a mistake. Marrying Jeremey was a logical move, and I felt confident about our relationship. I didn’t worry about Jeremey’s answer, either. The probability of him saying no was low.

But I knew our families would be concerned, especially Jeremey’s. They didn’t like that I was autistic. They hated the autism part more than the gay part, Jeremey said. They would be upset if we got engaged, and this would upset Jeremey, which would only make his depression worse.

Jeremey’s depression was often challenging for me. I had a difficult time understanding how to live with it as his partner. His anxiety was okay. He had the AWARE anxiety management strategy to manage himself, and I knew all the steps and could help him remember to do them. But depression was tricky. Anxiety I could see on the outside, but depression happened on the inside. It scared me. He’d already attempted suicide once, and I never wanted it to happen again. I knew I couldn’t necessarily stop this from occurring, but I also knew the variables which influenced the odds.

My mother would call this splitting hairs. I will never understand either this metaphor or how anyone could split a hair with any knife or ax or sharp instrument of any kind.

There were other considerations to proposing to Jeremey, though. I didn’t get disability anymore because of my employer, but Jeremey did. He had a job as our friend David’s uncertified aide, but it was part-time. He attended community college for a short while to be a Certified Medical Aide, but it was too stressful for him. He took some classes online, but it was hard for him. Eventually he decided to stay on disability and maybe try classes another time. He made a small salary as David’s aide, but it was basically a discount on his fees for being at The Roosevelt.

Right now his insurance comes from Medicaid, which is complicated and messy since the State of Iowa decided to make it privatized. My mother, a medical doctor, has a great deal to say about this, and most of it is swearing. All I know is when Jeremey had to switch to the private plan, he had to pick one of three insurance companies, and now he has to drive to Des Moines for half his appointments since most of the providers he used stopped taking his insurance due to the Medicaid privatization. Some of the doctors he saw only took one kind but not another, so he had to choose which ones he wanted to see. He has regular panic attacks over dealing with his health care management now, and this is with me, my parents, and The Roosevelt staff helping him. My mother says people who don’t have support staff are up “shit crick.” Crick is a colloquial way of saying creek, which is a synonym for small stream. She assures me they do not actually need to walk up a river of poop, but they might as well because it would probably be less awful than navigating our new health system.

I’ve never been on Medicaid. Even if I had been, it wouldn’t have mattered as we also had my family’s insurance, which meant we could make other choices. Technically Jeremey could use his family’s insurance until he is twenty-six, but then he would have to negotiate with his parents, who are challenging, so he’s elected to deal with the messy state system alone. I don’t use my family insurance anymore either, since I work full-time now at Workiva. I worked for them part-time while I was still in college because they think I’m a genius. This is because I am a genius.

Workiva gives me a generous salary and benefits package, including insurance. I thought if I married Jeremey, he could be on my insurance, but I didn’t know if Jeremey’s disability payments would change if he was my husband. Jeremey’s job with David and his SSI payments cover his part of our bill for our apartment and fees at The Roosevelt with a tiny bit of spending money for Jeremey left over. The truth is if he didn’t live with me, he couldn’t afford to live at The Roosevelt. I don’t know, to be honest, how he would live at all.

I hoped marrying me would make things easier, but it was worth checking to make sure they didn’t get more complicated instead. The trouble was, I didn’t know who to talk with about my plan. I thought about talking to David, who was my friend as much as Jeremey’s, but he wasn’t my first choice. David was disabled, but he wasn’t on the spectrum. I felt these were spectrum issues, and so I decided I should go to a friend who was also on the spectrum, Darren.

I made the decision to contact Darren on my way home from work one day, so when I arrived at The Roosevelt, I was eager to go upstairs and begin the conversation. First, however, I had to stop in the lounge and say hello to Jeremey and my friends. I didn’t want to because I was so focused on the potential conversation with Darren, but it would have been rude to skip them. Since the whole point was to figure out how to marry Jeremey, it was logical to take the time to care for his feelings first.

I was already being a good husband before I’d even proposed.

When the Workiva car dropped me off at The Roosevelt, I hummed, feeling happy. I liked that we had snow. Everything felt quieter when we had snow. There had been a blizzard the day before, and we’d made snow residents on the lawn. They smiled at me as I passed, and I smiled back.

As I entered the lounge, I counted seven people in the room, eight now because I was also present. David and Jeremey were there, as well as Sally and Tammy, the support staff for the building. Paul had his back to them as he played Xbox, but he had no headphones and the TV sound was off, so I knew he was listening to the conversation. Cameron was with Sally at the table, running his Spirograph while he spoke. This meant he was concentrating.

Stuart sat beside him, watching the circles and patterns and occasionally making yelp noises to let Cameron know he enjoyed the drawings and was excited to be included in the conversation. Most people wouldn’t consider drawing a conversation, but it was to Cameron and Stuart.

Stuart is a strange guy. He’s on the spectrum too—a lot of us in the building are—but there’s something about him that makes me want to flap my hands. Technically the term for flapping is stimming, but I’ve always thought of it as flapping, so that’s what I call it. Stuart makes me feel flappy. He uses his camera eyes to watch me, the same as I watch him. Like a lot of autistic people, he doesn’t have to look directly at something to see it. Yet I always feel as if he’s watching me whenever I’m in the lounge. Tammy says this is because I did a viral video with David and Jeremey last year. We dressed up like the Blues Brothers and danced through Target to Stuart’s favorite song by his favorite artist, “Happy” by Pharrell Williams, and became YouTube stars for a few days. To this I say, why doesn’t he watch Jeremey or David?

Tammy says it’s because they don’t dance like Elwood Blues or have autism the same as he does. Except our autism isn’t the same, but Tammy doesn’t understand. She means well, but autism isn’t one size fits all. Stuart and I are living proof.

Beside Stuart was David in his wheelchair, and beside David was Jeremey. I signed my special hello to Jeremey, and then I flapped at the room so they knew I was happy to see them too.

Sally waved me over. “We’re making plans for a party, Emmet. A New Year’s Eve party. Come join us.”

I ignored her for a minute because every time I see Jeremey after work I give him a touch. Jeremey loves touches and hugs about as much as they make me feel as if someone put my skin on inside out. Sometimes I hug him after work and sometimes I don’t, but he always gets some physical contact from me.

I put a hand on his shoulder, and his body went soft as he leaned his cheek on my hand.

Though physical contact isn’t my favorite thing as a general rule, when I touch Jeremey it’s a different story. Today as it usually happened, when I rested my hand on his shoulder, I wanted to sign for him to go upstairs with me and have sex. But it would be rude to leave the party-planning meeting when I’d just arrived, plus I had the chat with Darren to do. So I found a straight-backed chair I could put near David and Jeremey.

David had waited to greet me because he knew Jeremey came first, but when I sat, he held out his fist for me to bump. Our fist bumps are awkward since I clunk too hard and he can’t close his fist all the way or aim well to meet mine, but it’s okay.

Tammy had a list in front of her with two columns, one labeled activities and another snack food. Karaoke and dancing were under the activities column. They were not my favorites. But Mexican train dominoes was on the list too, and I enjoyed this game a lot. I don’t know what is Mexican about it, and I’ve asked, but Sally says it’s only a name. I haven’t been able to find any research that explains why it’s called that either, but I enjoy the game a great deal.

I studied the snacks side of the list and flapped excitedly when I saw what she’d written. Parmesan popcorn was a treat Tammy made when she was extra happy or wanted to reward a resident. It was on the list twice, once with plain written beside it and the other saying there would be M&M’s in the popcorn. This is because some residents enjoy the sweet and salty mixed together in the same bowl and some of us would need to go to the corner and hum if food were jumbled like that.

I didn’t say much while the others planned. Too many people were talking at once, and work and thinking about how to propose to Jeremey had drained my energy, so when I had an idea, I sent texts to Jeremey, who read them to the group. But then I had a thought so big I wanted to say it myself. I tapped the table, and when Sally called on me, I said, “Can we invite Darren?”

“That sounds like a great idea. I’ll talk to his staff and see about arranging for him to come over.”

I was annoyed because I wanted to invite Darren myself, not have staff do it. I thought if I hurried to the apartment, I could maybe invite him first, but before I could excuse myself, Jeremey tapped my leg twice to get my attention. When I turned to him, he didn’t speak, he signed.

A teacher of mine a long time ago taught me and my family to use American Sign Language to communicate during a period when speaking out loud felt too intense for me. I speak out loud often now, but I still use ASL sometimes because it’s handy. My family, friends, and boyfriend use it too, especially when we wanted to have conversations without other people getting involved. When I saw what Jeremey had to say to me, I understood why he was signing instead of speaking.

I caught Sally and Tammy whispering about budgets in the staffroom when they didn’t think I was close enough to hear.

Jeremey was worried about The Roosevelt closing again. Though if Sally and Tammy were whispering about it, maybe he was right to worry. I signed back to him. We need to talk to David instead of eavesdropping.

Jeremey nodded. I thought I would go see him now before we went upstairs to make dinner. But it might mean we start making dinner and do our laundry late.

This worked out perfectly. I need to talk to Darren about something anyway. We can adjust our schedule by a half an hour or even forty-five minutes without a problem.

Jeremey smiled at me, and my chest felt warm and tight. I love you, Emmet.

I love you too, Jeremey.

I kissed the inside of my palm, then pressed that palm to Jeremey’s. His eyes were bright as he took the kiss tight in his fist and his open palm to his lips.

I couldn’t stop smiling. I loved him so much.

“I’ll see you at dinner,” I said, then stood to go get some advice on what would be the best way to marry him.

 

Book Info

 

Shelter The Sea: by Heidi Cullinan
Series: The Roosevlet #2
Release Date: April 18th, 2017
Pages: 190 • Format: eARC
Published By: Heidi Cullinan
Purchase Links:
Amazon USAmazon UKBarnes & NobleSmashwords

Some heroes wear capes. Some prefer sensory sacks.

Emmet Washington has never let the world define him, even though he, his boyfriend, Jeremey, and his friends aren’t considered “real” adults because of their disabilities. When the State of Iowa restructures its mental health system and puts the independent living facility where they live in jeopardy, Emmet refuses to be forced into substandard, privatized corporate care. With the help of Jeremey and their friends, he starts a local grassroots organization and fights every step of the way.

In addition to navigating his boyfriend’s increased depression and anxiety, Emmet has to make his autistic tics acceptable to politicians and donors, and he wonders if they’re raising awareness or putting their disabilities on display. When their campaign attracts the attention of the opposition’s powerful corporate lobbyist, Emmet relies on his skill with calculations and predictions and trusts he can save the day—for himself, his friends, and everyone with disabilities.

He only hopes there isn’t a variable in his formula he’s failed to foresee.

Giveaway

Carry the OceanShelter the Sea signed paperbacks and Roosevelt Blues Brother kit (black fedora and skinny tie)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Author Bio

Heidi Cullinan has always enjoyed a good love story, provided it has a happy ending. Proud to be from the first Midwestern state with full marriage equality, Heidi is a vocal advocate for LGBT rights. She 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. When Heidi isn’t writing, she enjoys cooking, reading, playing with her cats, and watching television with her family. Find out more about Heidi at heidicullinan.com.

Blog Tour & Giveaway: Enjoy The Dance by Heidi Cullinan

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Oh My Shelves welcomes Heidi Cullinan to the blog. We are excited to be apart of the Enjoy The Dance Blog Tour. Check out the post to find out LGBT Youth Homelessness and the resources you can find to help. Don’t forget to follow the tour to enter the Rafflecopter Giveaway!!!

Short Summary: Set against the backdrop of the marriage equality and immigration struggles of 2012, kindergarten teacher Spenser Harris and dance instructor Tomás Jimenez fall in love while helping a troubled youth, but the public spotlight their effort draws threatens their relationship, their careers, and their families.

 

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LGBT youth homelessness has been a cause I’ve addressed in my books before, and I’ve urged readers to consider donating to causes before in blog tours and other social media campaigns, but in Enjoy the Dance I’ve made the issue an integral part of the story in what I home is a way to put a more human face on the issue.

 

We hear the word “homeless” and think of old men in stocking caps with scruffy beards and women wearing too many sweaters with hair sticking up, pushing shopping carts full of assorted belongings on movie sets. The reality is much more complicated and all around you. It’s a lot younger. And a lot of that population is queer.

 

This is a three part fact series about LGBT youth homelessness. You can read more at Gay Book Reviews and Bayou Book Junkie, and of course check out the rest of the Blog Tour for other facts and behind the scenes information.

 

If you want to be part of the solution to stopping LGBT youth homelessness, here is a list of resources to get you started. If you know of more resources, email me, and I’ll add them to my list.

LGBT HOMELESS YOUTH FACTS, PART 3

The most frequently cited factor contributing to LGBT homelessness was family rejection based on sexual orientation and gender identity, with the second most common reason of being forced out by their parents after coming out, according to the Williams Institute, UCLA School of Law, et al. At school LGBT students often face harassment, both physical and verbal, which leads to high dropout rates.

  • Gay and transgender students are two-times less likely to finish high school or pursue a college education compared to the national average.
  • 86 percent: The portion of gay and lesbian students who reported being verbally harassed at school due to their sexual orientation in 2007.
  • 44 percent: The portion of gay and lesbian students who reported being physically harassed at school because of their sexual orientation in 2007.
  • 22 percent: The portion of gay and transgender students who reported having been physically attacked in school in 2007, with 60% saying they did not report the incidents because they believed no one would care.
  • 31 percent: The portion of gay and transgender students who report incidents of harassment and violence at school to staff, only to receive no response. LGBT youth are also disproportionally homeless due to overt discrimination when seeking alternative housing – widespread discrimination in federally funded institutions frequently contributes to the growing rates of homelessness among LGBT youth. Once homeless, these youth experience greater physical and sexual exploitation than their heterosexual counterparts.

 

enjoythedance-digital_finalv3_highresEnjoy The Dance: by Heidi Cullinan
Series: Dancing #2
Release Date:October 11, 2016
Pages: 80,000 words • Format:Novel
Published By: Heidi Cullinan
Purchase Links:
AmazonAReBarnes & NobleSmashwords

Dance with your heart, and love will follow.

Kindergarten teacher Spenser Harris has carved a quiet, stable future out of his tumultuous past, but his world turns upside down the night a homeless teen appears on his doorstep—a boy whose story mirrors the one Spenser has worked so hard to overcome. The decision to shelter Duon is easy. What’s tricky is juggling the network of caregivers in Duon’s life, especially Tomás Jimenez.

Tomás wouldn’t have hesitated to take Duon in, but his plate is already full working three jobs to support his family. Though Spenser’s carefully constructed walls are clearly designed to keep the world at bay, Tomás pushes past Spenser’s defenses, determined to ensure the man is worthy of his charge. As the two of them grow closer, Tomás dares to dream of a life beyond his responsibilities, and Spenser begins to believe he might finally find a home of his own after all.

But Spenser and Tomás’s world is poised to crash around their ears. Duon’s grandmother isn’t sure she wants him to be raised by a gay man and challenges Spenser’s custody. Tomás’s undocumented parents could be deported at any time, and all the while the state of Minnesota votes on a constitutional amendment against marriage equality and the US Supreme Court debates whether or not Spenser and Tomás get a happily ever after. All they can do is hold tight to their love, hope for a better future…and remind each other to enjoy the dance.

∗∗∗Rafflecopter Giveaway∗∗∗

Enjoy the Dance Prize Pack

Enjoy the Dance paperback, Dance with Me paperback, No House To Call My Home paperback, MIKA The Origin of Love CD, a box of Lady Grey tea, a bottle of Tajìn seasoning.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

About Heidi Cullinan

heidiHeidi Cullinan has always enjoyed a good love story, provided it has a happy ending. Proud to be from the first Midwestern state with full marriage equality, Heidi is a vocal advocate for LGBT rights. She 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. When Heidi isn’t writing, she enjoys cooking, reading, playing with her cats, and watching television with her family. Find out more about Heidi@heidicullinan.com

 

Blog Tour – Short Stay by Heidi Cullinan

Short Stay Blog Tour

Oh My Shelves is beyond excited to be part of the blog tour for Short Stay by Heidi Cullinan. Our resident ginger loved this and is a HUGE fan of the Love Lessons and Special Delivery series! Check out the post to get answers to some must know questions, get a glimpse into lunch with beloved characters and a chance to win paperbacks in the Love Lessons series.  

* * * * * *

Why Did You Write This Story?

I hadn’t planned on writing this story at all. I’d meant to write something for my Patreon readers as a Christmas present, but it got long and complicated, so I asked them what they wanted in a short story from a known character universe. They voted, and Baz and Elijah won, though Walter and Kelly were only one vote down, and the Special Delivery series characters had a strong showing too, so I decided what the heck, let’s include them all.

I meant the story to be short, but I don’t do short well. I was having too much fun playing with the characters and thinking of things to include I knew would delight my readers. I told them, as I wrote, that every time I got stuck I asked myself, “What would the readers want right now?” then tried to give it to them. I didn’t back down from anything cheesy, didn’t let any critical voices in my head.

The result was something I loved writing and my patrons loved reading. In truth all stories are written for readers, but this one really was. It wouldn’t have happened without them. It was designed with specific readers in mind, ones I’ve come to know and appreciate more deeply in the past six months. It felt exactly like it was meant to: a gift to readers I care very much about. And they enthusiastically let me share it with everyone else, so here we are.

You crossed the streams on this one big time, sending the Love Lessons characters into the Special Delivery characters’ world. Why did you do that?

It started as a lark. I’d meant for Baz and Elijah to go to Vegas in Lonely Hearts in an early draft, so I was eager to send them there now. And I thought, well, the Special Delivery characters have to say hi, since they live there. But I couldn’t resist sending them to Herod’s itself, and then everything snowballed. I should have known better. Randy always steals the show. But it’s okay, because he does it so well.

Will what happened in Short Stay become canon in either or both series?

Yes. It doesn’t change much in Special Delivery except now Randy wants a Tesla. For the Love Lessons series, though…well, I’m not giving any spoilers, but it changed a lot in what I had planned for the rest of the White House gang story arc. Which is fine, because shaking things up and making me scared always gives me good energy in a story.

What’s next in your production queue?

My muses have been fickle lately, and every time I make plans they thwart them. What I’m working on right now, for better or for worse, are two more after-HEA stories: Shelter the Sea, a novella in the Roosevelt series, and Enjoy the Dance, a short novel in the Dancing series. (Yes, Dance With Me is part of a series now.)

Shelter the Sea is still slightly amorphous, but essentially Emmet is trying to help a friend in trouble and doing a little more growing up in the process. Enjoy the Dance began as my attempt to chronicle what happened to Ed and Laurie between Dance With Me and when they appeared in Lonely Hearts, and how the radical change in the state of marriage equality affected them personally. We also find out what happened to Duon.

After that, I’m working on the next full novels in the Love Lessons, Roosevelt, and Clockwork Love series. As per usual I’m also working on several other things as well. What specifically comes next is difficult to say, but suffice it to say, something will float to the top.

* * * * * *

~Excerpt~

Lunch With the Boys

Walter and Kelly had left, as had Randy, but Mitch and Sam were still there, sitting in what Elijah had begun to think of as “Randy’s booth.” They welcomed him over when they saw him.

“Where’s your other half?” Mitch asked in his Texas drawl.

“Sleeping. I didn’t want to wake him, but I needed to get out of the dark for a bit.” Elijah had barely slid into his seat before the same waitress from the day before placed a Dirty Whiskey in front of him. He thanked her with a nod and took a sip. “What are you guys up to?”

“We’re waiting for my brother. He’s had a long day of rehearsal, and Steve’s deep into a project, so we thought we’d take Chenco out to pamper him at his favorite vegan restaurant.” Sam glanced at Mitch, who nodded. “You’re welcome to come along, with or without Baz.”

Elijah hesitated. “It sounds good, but I don’t know how long he’ll sleep, and I don’t want to be gone if he’s up and wants to do something.” He remembered the day before, their argument, and couldn’t help a wry smile. “Though if he were awake, he’d tell me to go.”

Sam leaned into Mitch. “I love how devoted the two of you are to each other. When are you getting married again?” When the question made Elijah shutter, Sam sat up, concerned. “I’m sorry, was that an uncomfortable question?”

How the hell should he answer? “We don’t have a date set, and whenever it is, I’m not going to look forward to it. Baz’s mother means well, but she’s a Momzilla on the best of days, and since she heard we were getting married, she’s been off the charts. There is no incarnation of our ceremony that doesn’t result in her taking over and turning it into some major social event for rich white people from Chicago. I can’t blame her, because this is her only son getting married. But it overwhelms me. I wish I could skip the ceremony and jump simply to being married to Baz.”

Mitch raised his eyebrows. “You can do that today, in Vegas. It’s called eloping.”

Elijah laughed bitterly. “Yeah, she’d be thrilled to find out we’d done an end run on her. But…even if I could know us running off to city hall wouldn’t mean she was gunning for my head on a platter, I kind of want some pomp and circumstance at our wedding.” He blushed, feeling ridiculous and exposed admitting it, but it wasn’t as if these people knew him or ever would. “I never thought I’d get married. I never thought anybody would feel that way about me. I still don’t always understand how I ended up with someone like Baz. You don’t get more opposite than the two of us, for family background.” His blush deepened, and he regretted not stopping his mouth on his first inclination. Damn Dirty Whiskeys.

Sam, unsurprisingly, turned soft and empathetic, a bottle-blond Kelly. “I never thought I’d leave Iowa, until I met Mitch. At best I hoped to get away to Des Moines. We aren’t so opposite as you and Baz, but we have other ways we’re different, I suppose.”

Mitch gave him an incredulous look. “Yeah, starting with our twelve-year age difference.”

Sam hushed him. “The point is, different can be good. You bring things out in each other, I think. Challenge each other. I didn’t want to move out to Las Vegas, but I wanted to be nearer to Randy and Ethan, and Mitch wanted to develop a relationship with his half-brother. Mitch likes to run cross-country jobs, but he’s driving local runs now almost all the time because we’re getting tired of not having a home base. Or rather, we want to be at the home base more.” He bit his lip, glanced at Mitch shyly, and added, “And because maybe someday soon we’ll make our own family.”

Yeah, this guy really was a Kelly. Elijah pulled the napkin from beneath his drink and shredded the edge absently. “I don’t know if I want a family beyond Baz.”

“It’s okay if you don’t,” Mitch said. “And it’s okay if you don’t now and do later.”

Chenco appeared, well-scrubbed and exhausted. Sam scooted out of the booth to break the news about the restaurant, which Chenco seemed pleased by, and once again invited Elijah to come along. Before Elijah could decline, however, Mitch leaned over to tap him on the arm and give him a heavy look.

“You come on out with us. We’ll tell Randy to take a break from party planning and bring Baz on over if he wakes up before we get back. Or Randy can keep him company, whichever Baz prefers.”

Mitch said this in such a rumbly, bossy way Elijah didn’t feel no was an option. And so he ended up piling into a sedan with the three of them, driving through the city into a residential area north of the city.

The restaurant was nice—fancy, but not formal, and the food wasn’t bad. Elijah ordered a fried tofu buddha bowl, which smelled delicious as it was placed before him. It tasted good too.

“My friends and I are eating more plant-based,” he said around bites. “We haven’t been doing it long at the White House, but we’re trying. We need to make stuff like this, though. It’s so good.”

Chenco raised an eyebrow. “The White House?”

Elijah always forgot how weird it sounded. “It’s this big house we all rent off Campustown. It’s white, and it’s a house, so…White House. Someone made the joke a million years ago, and I guess it stuck.”

“It’s so cool you get to live there with all your friends.” Sam looked jealous. “I lived with my aunt and uncle for most of college. My aunt and uncle who hated me.”

“My first year I lived in the dorms. My parents were…” Elijah stopped, the urge to share abruptly washed over with the urge to self-protect.

Mitch’s drawl was gentle, reassuring. “Randy told us your story. Glad you got out okay.”

Elijah poked at his bowl, appetite gone. “Some days I’m less okay than others.”

Sam put a hand near Elijah’s plate. “My mom died when I was seventeen after being sick all her life, and I had to live with the horrid aunt and uncle afterward. Mitch’s mom left when he was eight, meaning he was raised by his father who, from the sounds of it, would get along fine with yours. When Chenco was kicked out by his mother, he had to go live with their father—who then left the only home he had to the KKK when he died. We get it, Elijah. Trust me. We get it. And it’s okay. You’re okay. Even when you don’t feel it.”

Elijah moved his gaze around the table, taking in the serious but understanding and accepting faces of the three men. He felt exposed…but also seen, and in a way making something deep inside him unwind. The same place inside him Randy had touched. Randy, who had been kicked out in high school and done tricks to survive, same as Elijah.

“Family is essential. Find it, make it, seize it however you can. If it walks up to you and welcomes you home and you don’t have reason to doubt it’s real, don’t argue. Just go through the door.” Chenco winked and nudged Elijah’s bowl. “Eat your dinner. Anyone with that many hickeys on his neck had enough sex to require calorie replacement.”

Elijah ate. He also, on the drive to the hotel, got out his phone and opened Facebook again. Pulled down the still-unanswered friend request from Penny.

He didn’t know how to tell if the request was real or not, but he clicked accept anyway.

 


ShortStay_LargeShort Stay by Heidi Cullinan
Series: Love Lessons, Book Three Point Five
Release Date: May 24, 2016
Pages: 118 • Cover Artist: Kanaxa
Published By: Heidi Cullinan
Purchase Links:
AmazonARe iTunes • Smashwords   Kobo

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 is a continuation of a story begun in the novel Lonely Hearts in the Love Lessons series and was written at the request of Heidi’s Patreon readers.


Follow the tour! 

Follow along to learn more about the book and for chances to win prizes, including a paperback set of the Love Lessons series!

May 20th – Review and Giveaway at Lucy Marker

May 23Ticket To Anywhere

May 24Diverse Reader

SS Blog Tour VerticalMay 24Bayou Book Junkie

May 24Keysmash Blog

May 24Just Love Romance

May 24 – The Day Before You Came

May 25Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words

May 25My Fiction Nook

May 26Oh My Shelves

May 26 Joyfully Jay

May 26Bike Book Reviews

May 26Sinfully

May 27PrettySassyCool

Rafflecopter PrizeMay 27Molly Lolly

May 27Just Love Romance

May 30Viviana, Enchantess of Books

June 2Prism Book Alliance

June 3The Novel Approach

June 3Wicked Faerie’s Tales & Reviews

June 4Love Bytes

 

~GIVEAWAY~

a Rafflecopter giveaway

About Heidi Cullinan

Heidi grew up in love with story. She fell asleep listening to Disney long-playing records and read her Little House On The Prairie books until they fell apart. She ran through the woods inventing stories of witches and fairies and enchanted trees and spent hours beneath the lilac bush imagining the lives of the settlers who had inhabited the homestead log cabin and two-story late 1800s home on her family farm. She created epic storylines for her Barbies until it wasn’t satisfying enough to do so any longer (age ten), and then she started writing them down. Her first novel, The Life and Times of Michelle Matthews, was published when she was twelve in the school anthology and took up nearly half of it.

Though Heidi continued to write novels through high school (and still has the Rubbermaid tub full in her bedroom), she stopped in college, deciding it was time to grow up and do something meaningful with her life. When the specifics of that didn’t pan out, Heidi ended up in grad school to become a teacher, and through one of the courses rediscovered her love of romance novels. She began to write again on the side, continued to do so while she taught seventh grade language arts and reading, and when she quit teaching to have her daughter, she took up writing with more seriousness, both as a stress relief and as a potential means of bringing in money.

Many million pages later, Heidi has learned a lot about writing, more than she ever wanted to know about publishing, and most importantly, finally figured out that writing IS the meaningful something she wants to do with her life. A passionate advocate for LGBT rights, Heidi volunteered for One Iowa during the fight for marriage equality and donates with her husband as a monthly partner to the Human Rights Campaign and Lambda Legal. She encourages you to support your own local and national LGBT rights groups, too

Heidi enjoys reading, watching movies and TV with her family, and listening all kinds of music. She has a husband, a daughter, and too many cats. Heidi is an active social networker, and of course has good old-fashioned email.

Short Stay by Heidi Cullinan

I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review.
This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

ShortStay_LargeShort Stay by Heidi Cullinan
Series: Love Lessons, Book Three Point Five
Release Date: May 24, 2016
Pages: 118 • Format: eARC
Published By: Heidi Cullinan
Purchase Links:
AmazonARe iTunes • Smashwords   Kobo

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 is a continuation of a story begun in the novel Lonely Hearts in the Love Lessons series and was written at the request of Heidi’s Patreon readers.

five-stars

If I had to name an author as a favorite it would he Heidi Cullinan. I honestly do not know how she does it but with every book I read from her, I fall in love with her ability to make me feel. When the times come around that I don’t think a romance can hit me so hard, I read something from Heidi and am firmly sat on my ass. It’s amazing and I simply adore the words, the places and good lord these ultimately swoon worthy characters she gives me. Yes me. Back off now, kay?

How long are you in Vegas? Long or short stay, or flexible?

When I heard that she was writing a short with Baz and Elijah I was more than giddy. When I realized they were going to Vegas with Walter and Kelly I was ready to use every yoga move possible to fit inside someone’s luggage to go along for the ride and then I saw they were going to Vegas and my book boyfriend of all time, Randy Jansen came to mind and then it all came together.

Let me just say that seeing Ed & Laurie from Dance With Me in Baz’s book, Lonely Hearts,  was a gift but this… I don’t know how much my heart or libido can handle with all the men created by Heidi’s wickedly and deliciously dirty mind together in one story.

Oh boy.

So if you haven’t read this series you are warned; here there be spoilers.

Now… this starts with Elijah totes freaking out about the preparations for his upcoming wedding to Baz. The Ackers can be a bit overwhelming and instead of Elijah talking to his fiancé about WTF is stressing him out, he tries to put on a brave face and deal. But Baz loves Elijah and knows when he is on the verge of checking out and taking up residence in his own head so Baz makes plans.

This was just too much damn fun. I know that I knew what was going to happen and where they were going but I screamed and flailed and melted with each man from previous books showed up on the page. I mean, how could I not when I know them so well.

Family is essential. Find it, make it, seize it however you can. If it walks up to you and welcomes you home and you don’t have reason to doubt it’s real, don’t argue. Just go through the door.

I can’t take this book. I just can’t. The Special Delivery and Love Lesson’s series are so close to my heart that seeing everyone together was too much but then what the hell am I saying? It could never and will never be enough. Good Lord, I feel strung out but it’s how these men leave me… strung out in the best way possible. I think I need a trip up to the top of the Stratosphere to clear my head.

So back to the story at hand. Baz is so concerned about taking care of Elijah and making sure he has a good time in Vegas that he forgets to take care of himself. And you have Elijah who is so dedicated to Baz’s photophobia and simply taking care of him that he lets his concerns get buried under his insecurities but these boys… ugh. They are so well suited for one another and so ridiculously in love, I was holding my breath waiting for them to just talk it all out.

But they couldn’t just talk it all out without the help of their new friends and I loved seeing them all again. Loved getting Randy with his natural presence to predictably overwhelm you when he is on the page and the general story. It’s not to  step on the toes of Baz and Elijah but to nurture them and come on, having more Randy time is never, ever a bad thing.

I keep losing my focus with this review and I am getting overly emotional, I mean I happy cried through the majority of this… So I am going to stop and put it plainly. This was a love story from an author to her fans, asked for by the fans that love the author and the stories about true love she gives them. This was a gift, a wonderfully romantic and sexy AF gift that I can’t explain how much it means to have experience it.

Short Stay… if you’ve read the Special Delivery Series and the Love Lessons series to their current stopping point, this is a must read. If you haven’t read the two series, do it now.

Kay?

Thanks.

 

 

About Heidi Cullinan

Heidi grew up in love with story. She fell asleep listening to Disney long-playing records and read her Little House On The Prairie books until they fell apart. She ran through the woods inventing stories of witches and fairies and enchanted trees and spent hours beneath the lilac bush imagining the lives of the settlers who had inhabited the homestead log cabin and two-story late 1800s home on her family farm. She created epic storylines for her Barbies until it wasn’t satisfying enough to do so any longer (age ten), and then she started writing them down. Her first novel, The Life and Times of Michelle Matthews, was published when she was twelve in the school anthology and took up nearly half of it.

Though Heidi continued to write novels through high school (and still has the Rubbermaid tub full in her bedroom), she stopped in college, deciding it was time to grow up and do something meaningful with her life. When the specifics of that didn’t pan out, Heidi ended up in grad school to become a teacher, and through one of the courses rediscovered her love of romance novels. She began to write again on the side, continued to do so while she taught seventh grade language arts and reading, and when she quit teaching to have her daughter, she took up writing with more seriousness, both as a stress relief and as a potential means of bringing in money.

Many million pages later, Heidi has learned a lot about writing, more than she ever wanted to know about publishing, and most importantly, finally figured out that writing IS the meaningful something she wants to do with her life. A passionate advocate for LGBT rights, Heidi volunteered for One Iowa during the fight for marriage equality and donates with her husband as a monthly partner to the Human Rights Campaign and Lambda Legal. She encourages you to support your own local and national LGBT rights groups, too

Heidi enjoys reading, watching movies and TV with her family, and listening all kinds of music. She has a husband, a daughter, and too many cats. Heidi is an active social networker, and of course has good old-fashioned email.

Clockwork Heart (Clockwork Love #1), by Heidi Cullinan

I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review.
This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

clockwork-heartClockwork Heart by Heidi Cullinan Series: Clockwork Love
Release Date: February 2, 2016
Pages: 248 • Published by: Samhain Publishing  • Format: eARC
Purchase Links: Samhain  Amazon • ARe

Love, adventure and a steaming good time.

As the French army leader’s bastard son, Cornelius Stevens enjoys a great deal of latitude. But when he saves an enemy soldier using clockwork parts, he’s well aware he risks hanging for treason. That doesn’t worry him half as much, however, as the realization he’s falling for his patient.

Johann Berger never expected to survive his regiment’s suicide attack on Calais, much less wake up with mechanical parts. To avoid discovery, he’s forced to hide in plain sight as Cornelius’s lover—a role Johann finds himself taking to surprisingly well.

When a threat is made on Cornelius’s life, Johann learns the secret of the device implanted in his chest—a mythical weapon both warring countries would kill to obtain. Caught up in a political frenzy, in league with pirates, dodging rogue spies, mobsters and princesses with deadly parasols, Cornelius and Johann have no time to contemplate how they ended up in this mess. All they know is, the only way out is together—or not at all.

Warning: Contains tinkers, excessive clockwork appendages, and a cloud-sweeping tour of Europe. A little absinthe, a little theft, a little exhibitionism. Men who love men, women who love women, and some who aren’t particular.

five-stars

Wow. I feel so star struck right now. Like starry eyed and happy. This book is awesome. I would have never picked up a steampunk book. Or I think steampunk is for me if this is what I’m going to get. Heidi Cullinan you rock. I don’t even have all the words to get out how much I really enjoyed it. This is such a great cast of characters. I loved the concept from beginning to end, and it really is well written. Immediately after finishing my first thoughts were for me to re-read it again and Valentin & Crawley better be book two. Ugh you can feel all the UST from them.

Cornelius and Johan two guys who make love look almost easy . Their coming together wasn’t easy, but it doesn’t matter because we see the love between the two. Johan seems so much older than he is, he embraced this gift that Conny gave him and was fantastic. I like the way the story molded together. I also really enjoyed that I wasn’t able to figure anything out. I read it in one sitting, it’s hard to step away from it. I can’t even explain in words how Conny & Johan were. Just read the book people. Their personalities definitely matched each other.

I can’t really say anything without spoiling it, but the way these two came together is still so beautiful. I felt like I was watching an action movie. That is how good it is, every little sequence kept me on the edge of my seat. We had the espionage, historical facts, love, the steamy sex scenes, the laughter, and the villains. The villains were perfect, as well as all of the females in the story. Every one of these ladies were such bad ass women.

**Special Thanks to Netgalley for giving me this in exchange for an honest review**

About Heidi Cullinan

Heidi grew up in love with story. She fell asleep listening to Disney long-playing records and read her Little House On The Prairie books until they fell apart. She ran through the woods inventing stories of witches and fairies and enchanted trees and spent hours beneath the lilac bush imagining the lives of the settlers who had inhabited the homestead log cabin and two-story late 1800s home on her family farm. She created epic storylines for her Barbies until it wasn’t satisfying enough to do so any longer (age ten), and then she started writing them down. Her first novel, The Life and Times of Michelle Matthews, was published when she was twelve in the school anthology and took up nearly half of it.

Though Heidi continued to write novels through high school (and still has the Rubbermaid tub full in her bedroom), she stopped in college, deciding it was time to grow up and do something meaningful with her life. When the specifics of that didn’t pan out, Heidi ended up in grad school to become a teacher, and through one of the courses rediscovered her love of romance novels. She began to write again on the side, continued to do so while she taught seventh grade language arts and reading, and when she quit teaching to have her daughter, she took up writing with more seriousness, both as a stress relief and as a potential means of bringing in money.

Many million pages later, Heidi has learned a lot about writing, more than she ever wanted to know about publishing, and most importantly, finally figured out that writing IS the meaningful something she wants to do with her life. A passionate advocate for LGBT rights, Heidi volunteered for One Iowa during the fight for marriage equality and donates with her husband as a monthly partner to the Human Rights Campaign and Lambda Legal. She encourages you to support your own local and national LGBT rights groups, too

Heidi enjoys reading, watching movies and TV with her family, and listening all kinds of music. She has a husband, a daughter, and too many cats. Heidi is an active social networker, and of course has good old-fashioned email.