Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Blog Tour ~ Short Stay (Love Lessons 3.5) by Heidi Cullinan ~ (Review, Excerpt, Guest Post + Giveaway)

Blog Tour ~ Short Stay (Love Lessons 3.5) by Heidi Cullinan ~ (Review, Excerpt, Guest Post + Giveaway)

RELEASE DATE: May 24, 2016
Format: Short Novel 
Genre: Contemporary/New Adult 
Length: 42,000 words
Publisher: Heidi Cullinan
Editor: Sasha Knight
Cover Artist: Kanaxa
Ebook ISBN: 978-0-9961203-4-0 
Print ISBN: 978-0-9961203-5-7
Series/Number: Love Lessons #3.5
Characters: Elijah Prince, Sebastian (Baz) Acker, Walter and Kelly Davidson, Randy Jansen, Ethan Ellison, Sam and Mitch Keller-Tedsoe, Steve Vance, Chenco Ortiz

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 readersIt 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.

Buy links: All Romance Ebooks • Amazon US • Smashwords • iTunes • Kobo • 
Audiobook: coming soon
Goodreads • Excerpt • Short Stay Spotify Playlist (bonus: Kelly's Disney Favorites Playlist)
Elijah grinned wickedly and held up his phone. “Giles and Aaron are absolutely green that they didn’t get to come. They said they would have totally been our drivers.”
“They aren’t twenty-one.” Baz wiped his mouth with his napkin. “They wouldn’t be able to go to most bars, and they wouldn’t be allowed on the casino floor.”
Kelly wrinkled his nose. “I don’t know if I want to gamble.”
Walter nudged him. “You can do a few penny slots. Or be my arm candy while I play poker.”
Elijah flicked gently at the bridge of Baz’s glasses. “You should play poker. They’d just think your glasses were part of your schtick.”
Baz stifled a wince at how that small gesture made his eyes throb. “Craps is more my game.”
They talked nonstop for the last leg of their trip, imagining the adventures they were about to have, looking up possible excursions on their phones. Even Elijah began to get excited. “I had no idea there was so much to do. Now I wish we had more than a few days to stay.”
“I wish I didn’t have to get back to work.” Walter was driving, or rather he was behind the wheel while the Tesla situated itself precisely in the lane. “But alas, I do. Kelly and I both have to be in Minneapolis by the fourth.”
They came over the crest of a hill, and suddenly there it was: Las Vegas. The city sprawled across the desert, a throbbing oasis in a sea of sand. Great grids of brown dotted with tiny shapes of houses until the Strip erupted, framed by the mountains in the distance. It would have been more impressive at night with all the lights, but two in the afternoon wasn’t anything to sneeze at either.
Baz had programmed the hotel into the navigation, but Kelly rerouted them in a detour of the Strip with a stop at the famous sign. They couldn’t find a place to park, but plenty of other people were slowing down to get a glimpse. Kelly managed to snap a picture through the moonroof.
“Okay, let’s see this hotel,” Walter declared, and they were on to their final destination.
Baz had a little misgiving about his choice as they took in the grandeur of the casinos on the Strip. He wanted to impress Elijah without overwhelming him, a fine line Baz was still learning how to negotiate. The smaller casino had seemed so much more them, though he’d admit mostly he’d seen “ten rainbow flags” and “resident drag queen” and leapt. Plus their suite had a view of the Strip. It also had a hot tub, the photo of which had Baz already thinking about how he’d get busy in it. But the Strip casinos were varying degrees of awesome too. Super-kitschy, elegant, modern—everything was there. As they drove by Bellagio, Baz kicked himself, thinking he should have booked there. He almost had, but they hadn’t had a suite available, and the pictures of the lobby made Baz imagine Elijah bitching about being out of place.
He wanted this trip to be perfect. He wanted it to make Elijah relax and show him that no matter what, Baz would always make everything okay.
As they pulled up to Herod’s Poker Room and Casino, Baz began to feel a lot better about his choice for their accommodations. It was elegant in a more traditional, understated way. It reminded Baz a little bit from the outside of his mother’s favorite old hotel in St. Paul, both the architecture and the quiet dignity of the bell staff. It was nice without being imposing. Small enough, too, that Baz could flash some money and probably get some VIP treatment.
He felt pretty good about his choice before they got out of the car, but what sealed the deal was what he saw as he exited the Tesla and handed the keys to the valet. Along the side of the building, just under the overhang, hung the Nevada flag, the US flag, and four bright, proud rainbow flags. When Elijah spied them, he visibly relaxed.
Baz did too. This was going to fix everything. Elijah’s nerves, his quietness, his lack of faith that Baz could take care of him.
He was sure of it.

*** Copy provided to Bayou Book Junkie in exchange for a fair and honest review.***

Elijah and Baz are engaged and in love, but Elijah still isn't sure that he'll fit in the Acker's lifestyle. Realizing something is not right with his fiancé, Baz plans on spending the New Year at a Las Vegas hotel. 

I loved reading this novella and playing catch-up with the Love Lessons series guys, and while I haven't read the Special Delivery series, my interest was definitely piqued and I want to know more of these men, so hopefully I'll be able to read those books soon. 

Baz and Walter were amazing as always, and while Elijah sort of got on my nerves at first, he finally got a clue and did the things he needed to do to make it all right with Baz. And of course, seeing what most of my favorite characters from this series have been up to was a delight! 

All in all, a short and very fun read, with some angst thrown in for good measure! Perfect to curl up in your bed with your beverage of choice and guaranteed to leave a smile in your face! Highly recommended!

Rating: 4.5 Stars!!! 

A Story for My Readers

I wrote Short Stay with my readers in mind, and I had so much fun playing with my own story universes, essentially writing my own fan fiction. Readers are always joking that they want to see their favorite characters doing anything and everything, even simply running to the grocery store. I made this reader-sponsored story more than running errands, but I tried to give them what they wanted: a fun escape with their favorite people in my stories.
This particular story was sponsored by and designed for my Patreon group. Patreon is a site where creators set up a profile and patrons pledge dollar amounts per month or per story. In my case, it’s per story, and each dollar amount gets special rewards. They get my self-published stories first, all patrons at all pledge levels.  Some of them get input on where I’m heading next, some get to see covers first, and some are automatic beta readers, getting the story before it goes to my editor.
I began using Patreon at a strange, tense financial moment, but it’s become a community, and now we chat, plot, plan, and in general have a lot of fun. I give them special contests and treats, keep them updated on what I’m working on, and in general give them front row seats for the Heidi show.
Short Stay would never have happened without my patrons, and it’s not because of the money. Their support, their community keeps me going. It inspires me, fuels me, and makes me happy to show up on the internet. Our clubhouse is always open—come on over if you want to play with us.

After Happily Ever After

Readers always say they want stories after the happy ever after, but those can be tricky to write, since the main tension of getting together has already been exhausted. Essential to these stories, then, is creating new conflicts while preserving (but also exploring) the HEA they’ve already achieved.
After-HEA projects are fun because they’re unabashedly for the readers. It’s fun to stuff them with treats you know readers will love, to unstrap and wallow in things that perhaps critics would call too silly or sappy but loyal readers embrace with both hands. Except I’ve found in doing these projects I let go so much I can actually produce cleaner, bolder work, because I’m not worried about rules or how things are “supposed to be.”
It wasn’t in my plan, but I have three of these after-HEA stories this year, Short Stay and two more in the WIP queue. I hope readers love diving back into these worlds as much as I do before we go full steam ahead into new characters and new universes.


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(link sends e-mail).


  1. Thanks for the post and review! For the rafflecopter, I think I would be happy just driving around in circles in a Tesla. ;-) But, I think I would drive over to San Francisco and then up the coast, maybe up to Vancouver.

  2. Thanks for the post and the review! I loved the excerpt. I don't know that it would matter where I went if I was driving a Tesla!
    Toni violet817(at)aol(dot)com

  3. Awesome excerpt and great review! If I were driving a Tesla hopefully red I would leave Houston and drive north!