Reviewed by JustJen
Title: Tough Love
Author: Heidi Cullinan
Series: Special Delivery #3
Heroes: Crescencio “Chenco” Ortiz/Steve Vance
Genre: M/M Contemporary
Length: 408 pages
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Release Date: April 8, 2014
Available at: Samhain Publishing, Amazon & Barnes and Noble
Add it to your shelf: Goodreads & Booklikes
Blurb: 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.
I will start by saying that I have not read the other books in this series but was told this could be read as a stand alone. While this was the case, I definitely wished I had read the previous stories.
This one is about drag queen, Chenco, or Caramela, the drag persona, and Steve. Chenco has been on his had it pretty rough. His mother died, his father was a horrible man, even after he dies, leaving Chenco homeless and basically kicking him in the teeth from the grave. He gets by with the help of Caramela, who he pours his all into, physically, mentally and money-wise.
Steve meets Chenco and immediately wants to help him out. But, he is good friends with Chenco’s unknown up to this point, half-brother, who Chenco has feared for just about his entire life, thanks to his crappy father and some old journals. But they end up smoothing things over and begin to form a relationship. Between Steve, his new brother and the rest of their friends, Chenco has found a new family.
As for Steve and Chenco, well, they are definitely attracted to each other. But Steve has just as many, if not more, issues than Chenco. He is pretty screwed up from a relationship with his mentally ill best friend, Gordy, whom he still sort of looks after. He carries a lot of guilt where Gordy is concerned, and unfortunately, he’s pretty rough in the sex department, which causes him to remain at arm’s length from Chenco. Chenco convinces him he wants to try, and they discuss some of the activities. This is where the watersports are mentioned, though none actually ever take place.
I found I was really uncomfortable with their relationship. I am pretty sure this is caused by my own hang ups and personal opinions, but I had a really difficult time enjoying these two. I didn’t like reading about the rough/pain required sex every time. It seemed odd to me that Chenco took so easily whatever Steve dished out, but again, I think these are just my own preferences.
Needless to say, I was way more intrigued by the other characters in this story. All of them are from previous books, which I am now eager to go back and read. From what I learned of them in this book, I have a strong feeling I will enjoy their stories much more than I did this one. So, while I enjoyed many things about this one, I just couldn’t get into the actual couple and their relationship. I truly believe it isn’t them, it’s me though, so if you’re looking to broaden your horizons a bit, definitely give this one a try.
Overall Impression: I liked it
*I received a copy of this book from the author in return for a fair and honest review.*