Review: Special Delivery, by Heidi Cullinan

Blurb:

cover-heidicullinan-specialdeliveryWhen your deepest, darkest fantasy shows up, get on board.

Sam Keller knows he’ll never find the excitement he craves in Middleton, Iowa—not while he’s busting his ass in nursing school and paying rent by slaving away in a pharmacy stockroom. Then Sam meets Mitch Tedsoe, an independent, long-haul trucker who makes a delivery to a shop across the alley. Innocent flirting quickly leads to a fling, and when Mitch offers to take him on a road trip west, Sam jumps at the chance for adventure. Mitch is sexy, funny and friendly, but once they embark on their journey, something changes. One minute he’s the star of Sam’s every x-rated fantasy, the next he’s almost too much a perfect gentleman. And when they hit the Las Vegas city limit, Sam has a name to pin on Mitch’s malady: Randy.

For better or for worse, Sam grapples with the meaning of friendship, letting go, growing up—even the meaning of love—because no matter how far he travels, eventually all roads lead home.

Warning: This story contains trucker fantasies, threesomes and kinky consensual sex.

This book has been previously published and has been revised from its original release.


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Edition read:
February 4, 2014
Samhain Publishing, Ltd
Contemporary, M/M, LGBT+
299 e-book pages
3rd person
Special Delivery, book 1
June 2-3, 2016
Kindle Edition
See the book on GoodReads.

Rating:     ⭐️⭐️⭐️.5

Ratings are 1 to 5 stars and based mostly on GoodReads standards.
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Review:

Well, I learned in another book that Heidi can bring it with down-n-dirty sexcapades. She’s a dirty, dirty bird and I love her for it.

She’s also a fantastic story teller and creates intricate and flawed characters that come to feel like old friends and people to champion. I love her style. Love it.

But…this book didn’t quite hit the mark of excellence for me that I’m used to with her work.

Special Delivery is an awakening. Sam is a young, part-time college student, living in his aunt and uncle’s basement, working for them part-time. His relationship with them is tenuous at best and full of animosity. He’s stuck, disgruntled, broke, and ready to start an independent adult life.

He meets truck driver Mitch and has an impulsive and intensely hot sexual encounter in the trailer of his rig. A few weeks pass and a few things happen, and then Sam runs away from life to ride the open highways of the western US with Mitch. Mitch, who’s twelve years Sam’s senior and has a few skeletons in his closet that he’s not very proud of.

This launches a ten-day adventure of kinky sex, a little discipline of the spanking variety, a little bit of submission without the ramped-up BDSM protocols. During this time, Sam comes into his own, embraces his desires, thinks about his future, but mainly lives in the moment of this once-in-a-lifetime harebrained escapade.

Individually, I liked both of these characters immensely. I loved how Mitch was careful, didn’t want to scare Sam with his dark desires and looked out for him. I loved how Sam wasn’t exactly a simpering fool but was introspective and a little afraid of what he was doing.

However, I had a difficult time connecting to the coupledom. I enjoyed the recklessness of fling and the adventure of the road-trip. But Mitch was very closed off and so quiet that I don’t think I got enough to feel a strong connection between them.

Then things went off the rails for me a bit when they visited Mitch’s ex in Vegas. Randy was despicable and came across utterly frightening. He terrified Sam with lecherous leers, provoked him with filthy innuendo, cornered him and was all too handsy when Mitch wasn’t around to protect him. I was screaming Stranger Danger in my head because it all felt kinda rapey.

Somehow it was all a mind-fuck that Sam ultimately gave into for several days of being a slutty whore in three-ways between the two older men. It worked for Sam and Mitch. And Randy finally calmed his ass down to be a decent enough fellow, but I just could not get over my first terrifying impressions of him to feel he brought anything substantial to the table.

Randy’s presence ultimately allowed Mitch to forgive himself for past mistakes and opened him up to a closeness with Sam that was almost beautiful. But, this was a 10-day jaunt from reality, and for me, the quick-paced timeline and minimal communication weren’t enough to develop anything of lasting significance.

Sam returns to his real life with tons of reluctance and hesitation but knows he needs to stand on his own lest he wind up simply a tag-along to a trucker with no real-life skills. Smart kid.

It all gets tied up into an HEA in the last 10% and several months down the road of Sam missing Mitch like he’d lost his arm. But, I still wasn’t totally buying it. After all, they’d spend more time apart and not talking than they’d spent together, and I have a hard time believing in “forever” under those circumstances. I know, cynical, cynical me.

I think (pretty sure) this is one of Heidi’s earliest published works. It was first released in 2010, then re-edited and re-released in 2014. Despite whatever the updates might have included, in my opinion, this still wasn’t quite on par with her newer works. I’ve read a lot of her books, so feel confident chalking this up to her still honing her skills and spreading her wings on the first go’round and not wanting to alter it too much for the second. Because really, if you want some of the best in Contemporary MM Romance, I can point you to several of her titles without a second of hesitation. Still, I’m glad I read it, and I’m mostly sure I’ll read others in the series.

This review also posted on GoodReads.

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