Title: Tough Love by Heidi Cullinan
Special Delivery Book Three
Publisher: Samhain Publishing, Ltd
Genre: Contemporary, M/M, Romance, Red Hots!!, Kink/BDSM
Length: Plus Novel
Book Rating B
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Author
It takes a strong man to be this fabulous.
Special Delivery, Book 3
Crescencio “Chenco” Ortiz pulled himself up by his garter straps after his father’s will yanked the financial rug from under his spank-me pumps. He doesn’t need anyone, yet when Steve Vance steps into his life, the prospect of having a sexy leather daddy on tap begins to take on a certain appeal.
There’s a hitch when he learns Steve is friends with Mitch Tedsoe—the half-brother Chenco never knew except through his father’s twisted lies. Despite his reservations, soon Chenco is living his dreams, including a performing gig in Vegas. Now if only he could get Steve to see him as more than just a boy in need of saving.
Steve’s attraction to Chenco is overshadowed by too many demons, ones he knows his would-be lover is too young to slay. Yet as he gets to know the bright, determined young man whose drag act redefines fierce, Steve’s inner sadist trembles with need. He begins to realize Chenco’s relentless tough love might be the only thing that will finally set him free.
Product Warnings: This story contains glamorous drag queens, exhibitionist secondary characters, and no-holds-barred BDSM play, including watersports. Readers are advised they may well leave this novel feeling uncharacteristically fierce.
Tough Love is another boundary pushing romance in Heidi Cullinan’s wildly popular Special Delivery series. This third installment delves pretty deeply in the sadism side of BDSM as Chenco Ortiz and Steve Vance explore their unexpected attraction. Their intense relationship is more than just physical; there is also a strong emotional connection between these two vulnerable men that heals the wounds from their respective pasts.
On the surface, Chenco and Steve seem an unlikely pairing. Steve is much older, financially secure, sexually experienced and heavily into BDSM, edge play and sadism. Chenco is in his mid twenties, scrabbling to make ends meet and not only has he never considered BDSM, he is very selective when it comes to sexual partners. But Chenco has an immediate response to Steve’s quiet strength and commanding presence. And Steve? He wants to protect Chenco and help him through his current difficulties while the dominant in Steve yearns to explore Chenco’s submissive side.
Both men have troubled pasts to overcome. Chenco’s issues stem from problems with his parents. He failed to live up to his mother’s expectations while his father was a homophobic, abusive jerk who took financial advantage of Chenco. Everyone he has ever cared about has betrayed him in some way and Chenco has a difficult time trusting anyone.
Steve appears to have his life firmly under control and while that is mostly true, he is a mess when it comes to his love life. He has a great deal of unresolved guilt from a failed relationship and his sense of responsibility keeps him tied to someone from his past. As Chenco becomes more confident and self-reliant, Steve’s vulnerabilities and fears threaten to derail their relationship.
The BDSM relationship between Chenco and Steve is fairly hardcore with plenty of kink (I definitely recommend reading the product warning). Steve is firmly in control with Chenco submitting to whatever Steve asks of him. While pain is always a part of their scenes, Steve is always quite gentle with Chenco in the aftermath. This dichotomy in his personality is incredibly fascinating and it is sometimes difficult to reconcile the caring, gentle man with the sadist who gets so much pleasure out of inflicting pain. Chenco is definitely centered by this domination and he flourishes under his care.
The characters from the previous novels in the Special Delivery series are integral to the unfolding story. Mitch Tedsoe is Chenco’s half-brother and their relationship is very rocky in the beginning. Mitch’s husband Sam helps smooth some of the rough spots between the brothers and he also helps Chenco understand some of the intricacies of the BDSM world. Randy is still endearingly blunt and while he sometimes oversteps boundaries, his heart is always in the right place. Ethan and Crabtree are also on hand to lend their assistance and all of the men fully support Chenco as he achieves his dream.
Sexy, smoldering and intense, Tough Love is a wonderful love story but it is also a journey of emotional healing for both protagonists. Heidi Cullinan does not hesitate to venture into forbidden territory as Chenco and Steve fully explore their sometimes taboo desires. The novel’s conclusion is sweetly sentimental and incredibly romantic. A marvelous addition to the Special Delivery series that old and new fans are going to love.