~Penny’s Rating: A- ~
I feel like I waited forever for this book to come out. I am so grateful to Heidi Cullinan for the ARC, because I don’t think I would have been able to take it if I had to wait all the way to April 8, 2014. For those of you who have managed to stay sane, the wait is almost over, and Tough Love will be hitting the shelves next Tuesday. *Dances happy dance*
Tough Love is a nice continuation of the SD series. For me, it was like coming home and visiting old friends. It was so good to see Mitch, Sam, Randy, and Ethan (the boys) again! We get to meet Mitch’s half-brother Chenco Ortiz, (squeee!), a talented drag performer trying to make a name for herself and bad-ass kinky daddy Steve Vance. They make quite the pair, let me tell you.
It’s an SD book, so of course there is plenty of drama, antics by Randy, Crabtree’s there too (the sadistic bastard), and of course they end up in Vegas, because Vegas is just as much a character in the SD series as the people themselves.
The Sex: The sex is hot. HAWT. There is one scene is Mitch’s truck, that OMFGHCS! There was however, some kink in this book that was not my thing. There is some pretty hardcore BDSM, and there is needle play. I am not a needle girl. It absolutely works for the characters and fits in the plot of the book, so no problems there, but be prepared, my vanilla snowflakes, to have your boundaries pressed.
I hope you enjoy your much-anticipated visit to the SD universe as much as I did. Tough Love delivers drama, angst, love, romance and seriously kinky sex, all wrapped up in a nice SD bow. Enjoy!
Tough Love Book Blurb and Links
Release Date: April 8, 2014
Book Three of the Special Delivery Series
It takes a strong man to be this fabulous.
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.
Warning: This story contains glamorous drag queens, exhibitionist secondary characters, and no-holds-barred BDSM play, including watersports. Readers advised they may well leave this novel feeling uncharacteristically fierce.
Buy links: Samhain, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Goodreads
A week before the South Padre show, while he and Steve sat out on the patio, Steve commented on how tense Chenco looked, how he thought Chenco needed a release. That was when Chenco realized an emotional enema was exactly what he wanted.
He turned to Steve, looked him in the eye. “When we play tonight, could we…would you flog me? For real?”
Steve’s eyes lit with delight, but his reply was measured. “You mean you want me to flog you until you break down, until you cry?”
“Yes.” Chenco was nervous, but he didn’t falter. “It’s what I want. In fact, I think it might be what I need right now.”
Smiling, Steve brushed a kiss across Chenco’s forehead. “You’ll tell me when it’s too much.” It wasn’t a question.
Taking Chenco by the hand, Steve led him through the main floor and down the hall to the master bedroom suite. The hacienda wasn’t some modern remake but the real deal, full of nooks and hallways and chunky add-ons. It had a second floor, but not much of one—it seemed to have been where the children were stowed back in the day. Now it was full of guests, Sam and Mitch in one room, Ethan and Randy in another, Crabtree at the end of the hall.
Steve’s bedroom was on the main floor, past the great room and kitchen and dining room, down its own hallway and spilling out behind the garage. It was a suite, not just one room—Steve’s bed was in the first space and the room beyond it was the playroom. The playroom, however, could also be accessed from the garage.
Tonight Steve led Chenco through to the playroom, but he didn’t order him to his knees. “We’ll start with a full massage, on the table and everything, like I told you about.” At a cabinet, he picked up a jar of oil and offered it to Chenco, indicating he should sniff. The oil smelled faintly of eucalyptus or spearmint. Maybe both.
“Nice,” Chenco offered.
Steve set the oil on a shelf and went to a closet behind the St. Andrew’s cross, digging inside before returning bearing a folded blue massage table. With deft motions, he assembled it, tested it and nodded at Chenco.
“Strip and climb on, facedown first.”
He went back to the closet and came out with a set of sheets as Chenco complied with the order. A fitted one went on the main table, a special small thing covered the face rest, and a flat sheet went over it all, followed by a thin white cotton blanket before Steve tucked the whole business away. The freshly made massage bed looked so inviting and cozy, Chenco got undressed faster.
“Have you ever had a massage before, like this?” Steve asked as Chenco climbed coltishly aboard.
“No,” Chenco confessed. “It always sounded nice though.”
Steve directed him into place, making sure the headrest was comfortable, tucking him beneath the blanket. “The general result of this is going to be increased blood flow and a more direct release of toxins. Given we intend to add pain play to this scene, I’m going to make sure you drink a lot of water, stick to your usual healthy diet and rest. Serious aftercare is coming your way. If you try and skip any of it, I’m going to get very bitchy.”
“Yes, sir. I mean, I’ll do as you say.” Chenco was glad his face was buried because it meant he could smile and have whatever ridiculous expression he wanted. He loved aftercare. It was when Steve held him and coddled him and petted him and told him how strong and brave he was. Even when their scenes weren’t super intense, Steve always loved him up afterwards. The idea he’d be getting more aftercare made Chenco more eager to please Steve, to make him proud, and he vowed to take all the pain he could, to give him all the noises and sobs he craved.
Noises turned out not to be any kind of a problem. As soon as Steve put his oily hands on Chenco’s body, Chenco started to moan.
“Oh my God, it feels so good.” Chenco’s eyes fell shut, his words slurred, and he felt himself sliding into headspace without so much as a whiff of pain.
“You’re very tense,” Steve said, and his tone made it clear he didn’t care for this state of affairs.
“I’m so nervous about the show.”
Steve’s thumbs slid along the line of his shoulders, forcing the muscles to relax. Chenco took a breath, let it out, and his body surrendered to Steve’s ministrations.
“You’re not nervous about the show. You’re nervous about what the show will mean, what it might change. You’re worried it won’t change anything or that it will change everything.” He moved his hands lower and kneaded insistently against Chenco’s shoulder blades. “Holding your tension in won’t keep you safe. You need to let it go.”
Let it go? How could he? What if he didn’t impress Crabtree? What if he did? Would he and Booker go on the road? Did he want to go? Would he have to leave Steve just as things were getting good?
Chenco drew in another breath, but this one couldn’t go as deeply since his nerves were up again. “It’s tough. I feel so vulnerable.”
“You are vulnerable. But being on guard makes it worse, not better. Let go.” He increased the pressure of his massage, so hard it edged toward the pleasure-pain barrier, making Chenco moan more. “Let go with your body. We’ll loosen it up first. Then we’ll take you over to the bench and free your mind as well.”
Chenco tried to let go with his mind right then too—his muscles couldn’t stand up to Steve’s manipulations, turning to limp noodles with every pass on his back, his legs, his arms. He’d half expected the massage to become a seduction—it was, but not in the way he’d anticipated. Steve lured Chenco’s body into relaxation, coaxing it, luring it then demanding it yield to him. If only Chenco’s mind would have come along for the ride.
All through the massage, Chenco did his best to stop thinking about the future, but it yawed before him like a terrible, sharp-toothed thing, ready to devour him if he went the wrong way. He worried about disappointing Mitch and Randy and Ethan and Sam, he worried about disappointing Crabtree and Booker—he ached at the idea of not being what Steve wanted him to be. There were so many ways to fail.
When Steve flipped him over to work his neck, Chenco tried to keep his face clear, not let his rabbit brain show in his expression. His body was loose, but his mind was a tougher sell. Steve sat him up and gave him a big glass of water, and Chenco was surprised to find an hour had gone by—and he was chagrined at how little progress he had made with his internal struggles.
Steve stood in front of Chenco, bare-chested, smiling wryly as he threaded his thick fingers through Chenco’s hair. “Quit yelling at yourself for not being able to shut off your head. That’s my job, to turn it off. I can tell already it’s going to be a hell of a scene, baby.”
Chenco leaned into Steve’s chest, opening his lips over those familiar muscles. “I’m scared.” His hands went to Steve’s waist, holding on. “Of the show. Of the scene. Of letting go. Of everything.”
The hand at the back of Chenco’s hair kneaded gently. “Scared of me?”
Chenco shook his head. “No. I’m not afraid of you.”
“Then forget everything but me. I’m the only thing that matters for the next twenty-four hours. You listen to me, you obey me, you please me. I’m canceling everything I have until this time tomorrow night, including a project for work. Everything is for you—if you’re willing to give everything else up for one spin of the sun. We have a deal?”
Chenco nodded and clutched at Steve’s waistband. A whole day with Steve, in submission, in freedom. “Yes, sir.”
“Excellent.” His hand slid to Chenco’s naked ass and pinched it. “Head to the cross. I’m going to strap you down and flog every last bit of nervousness right out of your head.”
Background/ History of the Special Delivery Series
Special Delivery was first published in February 2010 by Dreamspinner Press, Double Blind in April of that same year. In 2013 they were re-sold to Samhain Publishing in package with a new third book in the series, Tough Love.
Special Delivery and Double Blind have been edited for their second edition, though no significant new content has been added.
Special Delivery won several awards in the 2010 Elisa Rolle Rainbow Awards, including Best Gay Contemporary, Best Character, Best Writing Style, and Best Overall Gay Fiction. It was a Dear Author pick for Best of 2010 and a finalist in the Smart Bitches, Trashy Books-Dear Author DABWAHA contest in 2011.
Double Blind was also a Dear Author pick for Best of 2010 and a finalist in the Smart Bitches, Trashy Books-Dear Author DABWAHA contest in 2011.