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Love Lessons

By Heidi Cullinan

~Penny’s Rating: A~

Whenever I really love an author’s work, I get a little angsty before I read their latest and greatest, because I really want to love their new book as much as I love their other works. Heidi Cullinan tends to be pretty hardcore, and I usually freaking LOVE her work, but, when I heard she was coming out with a new “new adult” novel, I wasn’t sure quite what to expect.

The good news is that Cullinan, even when conquering a new genre, does not disappoint. Love Lessons is adorable. This is Cullinan’s version of a slow burn love story, with the angst turned up to eleven. It is sweet, and cute, and a little fluffy. Everyone’s in college, and yes, the sex is vanilla, (awesome vanilla, in fact). Not only that, but the MC’s Kelly and Walter are real, genuine, awesome human beings, that you fall in love with and root for every step of the way.

Blurb: Love doesn’t come with a syllabus.

Kelly Davidson has waited what seems like forever to graduate high school and get out

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.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.

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.

 The excerpt below, that was the moment I fell in love with Kelly and Walter. Read it, you’ll get the picture.

Walter filled a glass and handed it to Kelly. “Drink this and stop looking so nervous.”
“It’s just weird. We’re the only guys here.”
“Oh, more will show up. Trust me. Not our kind, though.” He linked Kelly’s arm through his. “Let’s go find the music. I like dancing with lesbians.”
Kelly thought at first that was either a joke or a euphemism for something, but it turned out Walter meant that comment literally. No sooner did he have Kelly set up with a trio of not-that-drunk (and not making out, thank God) girls on a sofa, he disappeared into the middle of the room, where he began dancing with an abandon Kelly hadn’t ever seen him exhibit, not at Moe’s, not anywhere. Kelly watched Walter move, transfixed.
“He’s so cute.” The girl next to Kelly—Tricia, Kelly thought her name was—leaned her head on Kelly’s shoulder and smiled as Walter shimmied behind a laughing girl who moved in sync with him. “Except he’s gay, dammit.”
“And you’re a lesbian,” the girl on her other side said, and they all laughed.
Kelly felt dazed. God, Walter just…moved. For a long time Walter danced and Kelly watched him, sometimes talking to the girls who sat next to him—they kept getting up and new ones sat in their places—and then after about a half hour, as a song ended, Walter came over, sweat-soaked, and collapsed next to Kelly.
“Shit.” He laughed, relaxed and happy, and he glanced at Kelly’s glass. “You need another?”
Kelly peered into his cup. It was empty. Huh. That would explain why he felt buzzy.
Walter popped back to his feet with a wink. “Be right back,” he said, and he was, with a new glass for Kelly and another bottle of water for himself. He was about to sit down when a girl grabbed him and hauled him back onto the floor.
Kelly had half a minute to observe them, that odd feeling of longing stirring in him again, and then someone grabbed his arm too.

He danced stiffly at first, but soon the wine and the gentle teasing of his partner relaxed him, and he began to loosen up. It was fun to dance with a bunch of lesbians or nearly lesbians, because yeah, nobody gave a shit about what he looked like or how badly he danced. Even when a girl with shock-red hair plastered herself tight against him, her tits mashed to his chest and his—limp—cock squashed along her thigh, it was so clear neither of them were turned on at all, and as such they could both let go and act like total sluts. Laughing, he tossed up his hands and danced. Someone handed him another drink, this one smelling tart and intense, but he drank it anyway.

He was having fun. So much fucking fun.

When he heard the familiar thumping beats of “Wild Ones” begin to play—they’d finally picked his iPod, apparently—he gave a hearty woot and threw himself into his boogie with an abandon he didn’t know he had in him. Somehow he’d become the center of a circle—he could see the straight boys now, mingled in amidst the girls, all of them looking slightly lost and out of place, and it was funny so he laughed. Hands slid down his arms, making him shiver, and as someone pressed against his back, he caught the familiar scent of cologne.

Walter’s thumb brushed Kelly’s wrist. “You’re having a good time.”

“Yeah.” Kelly tried to smile over his shoulder, but Walter’s hand skimmed his hip, and he jerked, glad Walter couldn’t feel the sudden erection that sprang up at the contact.

Walter gripped Kelly’s hip more firmly, holding him in place. “Hey—it’s just me, goofball. What, you can’t dance with me the way you were dancing with Sally?”

No, Kelly couldn’t. Except as Sia’s voice boomed out over the room and Walter led him into a sway, Kelly started to wonder if maybe he could. It’s just dancing, he told himself. Because the truth was, he did want to dance with his roommate. He wanted Walter to dance with him the way he’d been dancing with the girls, and Kelly wanted to let go enough to be the way he’d been with his own partners. He wanted to be able to feel that relaxed with Walter.

He couldn’t do that, though, because then Walter would know. Hell, he’d feel, because even this subtle contact had Kelly hard as a rock.

“Hush.” Walter’s lips grazed his ear, making Kelly shiver. That made Walter laugh, though not unkindly. “Is that it? You’re being self-conscious because I’m turning you on?” When Kelly said nothing, Walter snorted and pulled Kelly against his body.

Kelly shuddered. Hard—Walter was as hard as Kelly was. “Walter,” he croaked, his entire body turning to jelly. Except his screaming dick.

Walter kept them moving, his touches gentling, soothing, even as they kept in time to the beat. “Babe, it’s fine. We’re both guys. We both like guys. We’re both hot, so we get turned on by each other. Big deal. You don’t have to be embarrassed about it.”

He turned Walter on? He was a hot guy? Kelly angled his head around, needing to see Walter’s face.

Walter looped his arms around Kelly’s neck and shook his head. “Oh, Red. You’re precious, you know that?”

No, Kelly didn’t. “You confuse me,” he confessed, because he’d had too much to drink.

Walter laughed, but it wasn’t a mean laugh, not at all. “You confuse you, Red. Turn your head off for ten minutes and dance with me. I don’t care if you come in your pants. Just let go for ten fucking minutes.”

Kelly’s whole body felt hot. “I can’t do that. Not with you.”

“You can’t flirt with me?” Walter gave him a come on look. “Red. You can totally flirt with me.”

Wait, what? Kelly shook his head, trying to clear it.

Walter sighed and began to speak in the tone of someone teaching a child something simple that they’d made complicated. “Walk it through, babe. You’re tipsy. You’re turned on. You’re having a good time, and it feels good to be turned on. You’re at a party full of lesbians, and me. Is there anyone here you’re going to let take you to bed tonight?”

“What? No.” It came out so automatically he couldn’t stop it, but rather than be upset, Walter seemed to be waiting patiently for Kelly to figure something out. Kelly frowned, still not getting it.

Walter rolled his eyes, but he laughed too. “Jesus. Red—you can flirt with me, you can do whatever you want, because we’re not sleeping together. So stop worrying about it. Just have a good time.”

The music slipped into the chorus, and Walter dragged Kelly bodily back into the dance. He forgot to be upset or confused or anything else, and within a few bars he was moving in time to the beat with his roommate, brazenly sliding his arms around Walter’s body. He tried to stay loose, to not think about how hot Walter made him, how bad that was. We’re not going to sleep together kept ringing in his head, though, annoying him.

The music shifted to Pink’s “Raise Your Glass”, and the room erupted in drunk, enthusiastic people singing and dancing along.

Most of the girls jumped up and down and did some drunken version of headbanging while they belted out the chorus, but Walter kept tight hold of Kelly and pulled him close, alternating between sensual thrusts with his thigh into Kelly’s groin and shimmying them in deep dips that nearly ran them into their neighbors. Kelly could feel Walter’s hard cock against his hip, and he knew Walter could feel his erection too. He could smell Walter’s sweat, could sometimes taste it on his tongue. The wine and whatever else he’d been drinking filled his head, heightening his senses, making him think he could feel Walter on his tongue.

Suddenly he wanted to. He really, really wanted to.

Raise your glass, the room shouted as one, Walter too, his shout reverberating in his chest beneath Kelly’s hands.

Kelly shut his eyes, drew in a sharp breath through his nostrils and buried his face in Walter’s neck.

He thrilled when Walter stilled, and he laughed, the sound rolling in his belly before he opened his lips over the throbbing pulse and sucked. Walter gasped, his knees wobbling, and his hands tightened against Kelly’s hair and waist.

Running his tongue along Walter’s skin, Kelly felt his cock pulse inside his jeans at the sharp, salty taste of his roommate’s skin.

Walter jerked and tried to pull away. Fuck no, Kelly thought, and turned his grip into a vise. He stopped kissing Walter’s neck, but he nipped at his jaw, heady at the thrill of making Walter the awkward one for once.

“Stop thinking,” he murmured, and ran his tongue along Walter’s stubble.

“Jesus.” Walter sounded shattered. He turned his head, and for a second their mouths almost brushed together. Walter kept that from happening, pulling Kelly’s head away from his own mouth. “Kelly, don’t.”

The refusal shafted Kelly, and all the self-consciousness alcohol had kept at bay returned in a tidal wave. “You drive me crazy,” he said to Walter’s chest, because he couldn’t look him in the eye.

“Sweetheart, you’re drunk. Like, really drunk. If I let you do what you’re doing, you’ll hate me tomorrow, and I’m not going there.”

Some distant, wine-slogged part of Kelly acknowledged Walter was right, but that didn’t mean Kelly liked hearing it. “You think I’m a stupid dumb kid.” He just wanted Walter to kiss him, to push him onto the couch and…do stuff.

Walter drew Kelly in close and kissed his hair. “I don’t think you’re stupid. Or dumb. Or a kid.”

Could he stop being so reasonable and nice for a second? Kelly sank against his shoulder defeated. “I’m so confused.”

“I know, baby.”

Walter was stroking Kelly’s back, and his butt, and it felt so fucking good. “I want you to fuck me,” he whispered.

Though Walter stilled, he didn’t let Kelly go. “I want to fuck you too, baby,” he said at last. “But we can’t.”


OMG right? If that doesn’t make you want to read more, nothing will. When I started, I wasn’t sure if I was going to like the characters enough to get invested in the story, because how were a nerd with an almond allergy who likes Disney movies, and a slightly older hot guy who is Slutty McSluttinson going to work anyway? They really just do, and it’s awesome. Watching the jaded cynical Walter fall for the sweet, innocent, adorable, Kelly is just freaking fantastic. There are Disney references up the wazoo in this, which should have driven my cynical ass crazy, but instead melted my cold and cantankerous heart, and thanks in part to them, I also got introduced to the fantastic illustrator David Kawena, who Cullinan gives a shout out to in the novel.


By the way Heidi, I just have to say, the Finn Ryder reference at the end, a la Walter, is freaking perfect. (Sighs)


I also have to say that I like Cullinan’s take on the whole liberal private college scene. She nailed the institutional mediocrity of it all. I admit that I spent a huge chunk of the book in perpetual angst waiting for the other shoe to drop. Basically waiting for Walter to screw up, but he continued to surprise me. So, in summation, I really enjoyed this novel. Read it. It might even restore your faith in humanity and happily ever afters. If this is what happen’s when Heidi Cullinan ventures into “new adult” fiction, I hope she ventures there again, and soon.


Available to purchase at:


1 ecopy of LOVE LESSONS | 1 Car Charm | 1 Keychain

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About the Author
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 also volunteers frequently for her state’s LGBT rights group, One Iowa, and is proud to be from the first mid-western state to legalize same-sex marriage.
You can stalk, I mean find Heidi here:


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