Baby, It’s Cold Outside by Nicole Kimberling
Small town Pacific Northwest reporter Peter Fontaine wants to level up. A job offer in Austin seems to be the answer to his prayers, but there’s one catch: his boyfriend, Nick Olson, artist, recluse, and snow-loving outdoorsman.
When Peter agrees to go to the Freezing Man snow sculpture competition, he thinks he’s going to get a lesson in making love in a hollowed-out snowball in the woods. He thinks he’ll either find a way to convince Nick to come to the Lone Star State or be forced to say goodbye. But one frozen corpse derails Peter’s personal plans entirely…
[I like the cover except it seems to try too hard so what’s with half of it being blue and half being gray?]
This is a sequel to the book Primal Red. When I first read Primal Red, I thought the book was pretty bland. I had some issues with the characterization, the setting, and the bland mystery. Yet Kimberling is a well known and much loved author so I wanted to see what the sequel would be like. Surprisingly and happily, I found Baby its Cold Outside to be delightful, laugh out loud funny in several spots with witty dialogue and great situations while the characterization may not be perfect, it worked for the space of the story. In short, I think the sequel outshines the previous novel by a lot and even if you haven’t read Primal Red, you can still enjoy this offering.
Almost two years have past since Peter and Nick have been together. Peter is a tenacious reporter who is thinking about accepting a job in Texas as the next stepping-stone in his journalist career. The only snag is his Pacific Northwest boyfriend who seems unwilling to leave the cooler temperatures. Peter decides that he’s going to talk to Nick about the job opportunity over New Years while the two are off at an outdoor snow festival. Unfortunately the untimely arrival of a dead body changes everything and Peter just can’t let his curiosity and reporter instinct go.
Here the mystery aspect of the plot is very well done, especially given the short length of the novella. The mystery of the dead body is pretty easily wrapped up and the only impetus is to show more of both Nick and Peter’s personalities and how others view Peter when in his reporter mode. Additionally the easy resolution doesn’t feel cheap or cheated because the mystery is not the focus of the story. It’s an added element that works well but doesn’t take the focus away from the relationship between Nick and Peter. Thus the various secondary characters are given enough time and page space so the reader can tell them apart, but aside from that, none are very important – including the murderer.
The impetus of the murder and the very real fear for their lives, Nick and Peter must make some big decisions about their relationship and its future. Nick doesn’t want to leave the northwest and feels moving to Texas would ruin his career while Peter feels staying in Bellingham would ruin his. Thus the two clash but not for long as the strength of their relationship is solid. The men are slightly better characterized in this novella, but Nick remains much of a mystery. He’s quiet and rarely vocalizes his emotions and thoughts. His affection and love for Peter are shown in a myriad of subtle and quiet ways. The small details Nick sees to and his care for Peter show his emotions versus speaking, whereas Peter talks about almost everything constantly but still manages to be secretive about important topics. Their relationship is interesting and fun to read as the two very different men navigate the difficulties of a relationship.
This story is pretty fun with a lot of humor woven into the setting. The dialogue and situations offer wry wit with several very funny comments. The descriptive setting is once again a highlight of the story and Peter’s internal narrative keeps the story entertaining. Although this is a sequel, it can be read alone with ease, as there are enough references to the past that new readers won’t be lost. The short length is perfect with just a touch of action, mystery, slight angst, and romance to give a great chilly treat.
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2 thoughts on “Baby, It’s Cold Outside by Nicole Kimberling”
Great review, Kassa! This author has a delightful sense of humor. As for the characters’ conflict, I’m thinking that Nick could easily enough move to Texas with Peter since he’s an artist who can do his thing anywhere — but don’t tell me, ha, ha! I haven’t read it yet. It’s in my TBR stack, and I’m looking forward to it even more after your review.
Hopefully I didn’t give too much away so you can still enjoy it. As always I look forward to your take on the book. It’s short, sweet, and to the point so it’s a nice, easy read.