I finished this book a half an hour ago and I'm still smiling. I loved it. Totally and completely loved it.
Sleigh Ride is the second installment in the Minnesota Christmas series - the first one came out last Christmas season. When I began to read it, it didn't take long before I felt as if I had just curled up in front of a blazing fireplace with a blankie and a good cup of coffee, reading by the light of the Christmas tree.
This is the story of Arthur, the ginger bear who is so rough and ready and amazingly marshmallowy; and Gabriel, one of the most endearing characters that I think Heidi has ever written.
Arthur is so straighforward, it seems, and Gabriel is so tightly wound, so ... I guess the popular word is damaged?.. so very much inside his head as many smart folk are. They are such opposites and well, opposites do attract, don't they? Each has a need that the other fulfills, but above and beyond that, they LIKE each other. Even when Gabriel was freaking out about what he'd done with Arthur, I still got the feeling that he couldn't help but like him.
There are some serious things addressed in this book as well as the romance and the hot and steamy stuff. There is a scene in the library, 3/4s of the way through the book that had me dissolved in tears, having to put aside the e-reader for a little bit because I was so overwhelmed. Not in a bad way at all. In a very good way. And in the same vein, some of Gabriel's observations and reminiscences of growing up gay could very easily be thought of as lecturing or preaching, but Gabriel being Gabriel (or Gabe as Arthur calls him), you know that this is exactly how he would talk. And it's never boring or pedantic or any of those things. I'm explaining this badly, I know, but...it just works. :)
Throughout the book we meet some old friends (including a mention of the couple from the very first Heidi C. book I ever read - the book that hooked me. *LOL*) and we make some lovely new friends.
And something that was a very big deal for me... both Arthur and Gabriel are over the age of 35. Mature men! What a breath of fresh air!!
Oh, I loved this book. So much. And loved these men so much as well. And yes, I'm still smiling. A perfect book for the season... a perfect love story that I'm still thinking about and creating images of their future in my brain.
Thanks Heidi, you've done it again!