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***Blog Tour*** ~ Review, Guest Post & Giveaway~ Special Delivery (Special Delivery #1) by Heidi Cullinan

January 29, 2014

18043684Summary: 

Book One of the Special Delivery Series

When 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.

Available February 2014 from Samhain Publishing and wherever books are sold. This book has been previously published and has been revised from its original release. 

My Review: 

When you read a story, you want to get lost in it. Well, I want to get lost in it. I want to crawl inside the pages and see what the characters see, feel what they feel, want what they want. I want this so bad with every book I have ever read and I think for the first time, I actually got it. I was unsure about starting this book. I was reserved going into this; knowing it had been out there for a few years and that it was a reader favorite but how would I react to it? Putting my faith in the author I dug in and started. Within the first few pages my heart began to race, my skin felt alive, tingly if you will and I couldn’t breathe. I read what Sam wanted, as he struggled with his fantasy of who he was and I became Sam. I felt what he was feeling, each rush he got, each touch, each breath each…it was intense to put it mildly. This book didn’t leave me with a book hangover; this book left me mother effing strung out. I still haven’t recovered from reading it weeks later and to be honest, that feeling is back just writing this without looking at my notes/highlights.

What follows may possibly be a bit incoherent and chaotic rambling, but how can I be anything other a complete mess after reading this story?

Sam, where do I begin? I think I loved Sam because I could get Sam. I know that not everyone can understand what he wants but I got it. It’s just that. I got it, I got Sam. I loved how we get him and his sexuality thrust into our face in the first pages and then we get down to his vulnerability as he goes home and says a certain goodbye before work. The boy is lost in a way. He is complicated, he is layered and he just needs. Again, that it’s it. He needs. He needs to be able to experience what he wants; get out there and see if his deepest fantasies can not only come true but will they sustain his soul. Yeah, this story hit me that hard that I am talking about feeding ones soul but isn’t that what we all need?

Mitch you and big blue, you were beyond fantastic. Let me say that I grew up in a small drive thru town that had more truck stops than it did restaurants and I never thought of a semi truck as anything but a pain in the ass trying to get around as I crossed town. But after this, holy smut cab I can’t look at one without thinking about what goes on inside and yes I even saw one at lunch one afternoon and had to snap a picture. Thank goodness for cell phone cameras.

So Sam is this young boy who meets Mitch and sees that what he wants he may get the chance to experience. I loved the first scene with these two, and the phone call and the last bit that has Mitch picking up Sam as they head out on the road trip to end all road trips. I loved the dynamic and the chemistry with Sam and Mitch, it was believable and it was addictive.

You don’t know something until you’ve stood outside it and looked at it objectively. Come see a sliver of the world with me, and I promise you a few months on the road will change your life completely.

Their time on the road, it was beautiful. From the moments of Mitch taking care of Sam through the mountains, to the talks, to shopping…I loved every minute of it.  How could I not? Special Delivery hit every single button that I have when it comes to romance. It hit every one and it hit me hard, so hard that I was lost and did nothing but read day and night until I finished. I couldn’t stop reading. When you have each thing that you love in a book there is nothing else you can do.

The underlying theme, though, was bondage and domination. And threesomes or more. Well…

Yeah, then there is that bit.  Oh boy do I love a kinky story and this was KINKY! It was beyond hot that I was afraid someone was going to notice my flushed face as I read at my desk or the squirming I did when Sam and Mitch were at the bar, on the dance floor with…oh yeah. That was hot. I am not shy of sharing when it comes to sex as along as both parties involved are on board and this was done so well. It was intense and endearing at the same time to watch Mitch give Sam what he wanted and the way he would take care of him was amazing and then for Sam to turn around and give it right back? That knocked me on my ass. Now with sharing I have to bring up Randy. For me? I loved him. I got his place in Mitch’s life and how important he was and at the same time how much trouble he was. BUT the importance is what matters most. What I love about Heidi’s writing (it’s not secret I am a fangirl for it) is when her characters get in a bind, when to put it frankly, shit gets tough… they talk! Oh My effing Gawd can you believe that? Things get hard and folks talk, it’s a miracle! Kidding, but I am not; these boys have issues, it’s no secret but it’s laid out there for them to deal with and they do deal with it and what happens when the three of them get together was gorgeous. There is one scene where I did not expect to become overly emotional during it but I lost it, flat out Charlie Brown sobbing while I read it.  It wasn’t just the physical that was happening on the page that was so intense and meaningful but it was the absolute beauty of Sam, Mitch and Randy that way that is making me tear up now just thinking about it. It was stunning and the thoughts that go through Sam’s head were so honest and heartbreaking. Oh, I think I need a minute. Goodness.

This story was about more than the sexual exploration of Sam or even the relationship between him and Mitch. This book was about awakening and letting go of the things that weigh you down. This was a chance for Sam to be free in every possible way and be able to release, to find release and be free. Dammit. I am crying again. This book killed me.

Special Delivery, oh boy this book…it was off the charts sexy, it was intensely sensual it was kinky as fuck and it left me in a puddle more times than any words on a page should. I am once again strung out just reliving the book and writing this review. It was that good. For me, it was that good.

Star RatingStar RatingStar RatingStar RatingStar Rating

 

I was offered the chance to pick Heidi’s brain and have seen this topic on her site. I had to know her thoughts on it.

 

~Guest Post~
Why Do I Say I Write Gay Romance,

Not M/M Romance?

This is one of the suggested questions for bloggers I have on my website’s press kit, and today someone has finally taken me up on hearing the answer.

Before I begin, though, I want to state emphatically that I never mind when someone says I write m/m romance, in the same way I don’t mind when people call gay romance a genre. Hell, I call gay romance a genre sometimes, because there’s no great noun for it. Subset, pairing? Type of novel? It is a genre, and yet there’s nothing I hate more than having myself a pre-established ghetto off in the corner of a list. “The gay stuff is over here.” I’d love for readers who would prefer to read gay romance to be able to find those works, absolutely. But every time I see a special label set on my romance novels, however good it is for marketing to my already established audience, I start glancing at the distance between the island I’m being placed on and the shore.

The gay romance vs. m/m romance terminology question is a similar splitting of hairs, and some of it matters a lot and some of it is just fussing. The biggest reason I prefer to say “gay romance” over “m/m” is because by and large when strangers approach me and ask what I write, be they romance readers or not, the letters m/m mean nothing to them. By giving that answer all too often I put a potential reader (of the whole subset/trope, not just me) on while not exactly the defensive, at least at a disadvantage.  When I say “gay romance” they know exactly what to think, and they have the power of the next question or comment: curiosity, dismissal, commentary. If I say m/m and they don’t know what that is, which usually they do not, the power is all in my hand, and they either have to feign knowledge, or they must admit they don’t know and ask, “What is that?” Sometimes it doesn’t matter, but as in all human relations, sometimes those subtle moments are the most important.

Which brings me to the other big reason I prefer “gay romance” over “m/m”—subtlety of branding. On the very barest of the surface, it’s a personal preference because “m/m” comes out of online fan-fiction pairings, and while I respect that community, it’s not my past. LGBT activism is, as well as mainstream romance. In fact, when people ask me what I do for a living, I say author, when they ask what I write I say romance, and if they press I say gay romance. This isn’t to hide, but because who sleeps with who is not the chief feature of my writing. The romance is.

For me “gay romance” is a compromise between the wordy “romances which happen to be about gay men” and “m/m romance.” When I can I prefer to say LGBT romance, but it’s not always accurate because so far my main pairings are all gay and bisexual men, though I have the full spectrum in secondary characters. The emphasis of how I qualify the noun “romance” is subtle, but important. “Gay romance” in addition to stating more clearly what it is I do also hearkens to LGBT rights and activism. There’s no M in that alphabet soup—and no one ever talks about the male in LGBT rights. Male is a gender; gay is an orientation.

I don’t write about the male as much as I write about gay. My characters are male, but they are gay or bisexual or fluid, and that orientation is always part of the story. If I say “male/male” and someone reads my woman-married-to-man bio, it’s too easy to imagine what I like to do is take western concept of male and subvert it like a dominatrix, that this is some straight woman’s vendetta against dominant male culture by feminizing men under the guise of making them gay. Now, true m/m readers would read that and either blink or be outraged—but the sad thing is this is very much what non LGBT romance readers might well think, or could think.

I was an LGBT activist before I was an author of gay romance, and that colors everything I do. The Iowa Supreme Court decision that shocked and pleased so many? I was part of that effort behind the scenes for years. Not in a direct, powerful way, but in a gritty, bumbling, teach-me-to-serve way. I made cold calls and gathered signatures and attended political rallies and confronted lawmakers, all kinds of uncomfortable trench-like things I didn’t want to do but felt I should. Part of this was receiving extensive media training—since then the messaging has changed, but I sat in rooms on Saturdays and got schooled on the importance of words and choices and the subtle messages they send. There are people, many of them gay and lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning, who hear “m/m” and worry I am one of them, someone fetishizing their life for a dollar, someone appropriating a movement and a group of still largely disenfranchised persons. When I say “gay romance,” I’m still not in the clear, but the parlance is cleaner, the messaging better.

Because the truth is that since I am not a gay or bisexual man, I’m appropriating that community every time I write. I appropriate truck drivers and male nurses too, but those communities aren’t being hunted down and tortured in Russia or executed in some African and Middle Eastern countries simply for being part of a demographic. This doesn’t mean I can’t write gay romances, but I try to never forget that every novel I pen and put out into the public conversation joins the narrative: a serious, life-and-death, culturally polarizing narrative. I don’t ever want to even smell like I’m using the community I love for a dollar, not to anybody. Does preferring gay romance over m/m change that? Maybe, maybe not. But for me, it’s the terminology I prefer.

We are decades from it, but what I wish people said what I wrote was romance. I wish when RT Magazine did a review of Family Man and A Private Gentleman it didn’t have “m/m” after the title, because the “m/f” ones don’t. But I get why I’m labeled, get that it’s not because people think my works belong in a ghetto, and at least they’re housed in the “contemporary” and “historical” romance categories at places like RT Magazine. Right now works of romance featuring LGBT men and women need a qualifier so they can stand out, so people see that they are present at the table. So the men in Brazil who illegally download my books because they don’t dare buy too many outright because “it’s too dangerous” (this is a quote from a reader who thanked me for my stand on plagiarism) know what to look for. This is so Putin and Nigeria and Sara Palin and Duck Dynasty have to see HEY LOOK GAYS GETTING HAPPILY EVER AFTERS, SUCK IT. And as a reader, though I will read all over the romance pairing map, I do like to be able to sort and see where the lesbian novels are and the gay novels and the straight novels.

The mainstreamed/labeled conundrum will never completely go away, and definitely not while part of what LGBT romances do is highlight marrow-deep conceptions of feminine and masculine, of gender roles, of orientations, of sexual politics. Romances have been doing this since Moll Flanders, with aggression since The Flame and the Flower, but gay and lesbian and transgender romances are doing this on a plateau now more public and important than ever. That being visible, being mainstream, being honest and brave and out? Huge. Epically huge, and it’s going to have cultural ripples we’ll never know how deep they resonate.

Because there’s nothing like a story to change the world. Nothing like a fictional what if to get people thinking, to put germs under their fingernails where grit is plentiful and ideas are already ripe for growth. LGBT romances will never start a revolution, but I’ll stand by the assertion when done with care, respect, and humility, they serve that same grim work of cold calls and lobbying. Gay romance will never be an earthquake, and it will never directly change the world, but it’s still good work. And if nothing else, the world can’t ever have enough happily ever after.

Get your copy: Barnes & Noble | Amazon Samhain

Still unsure if this is your next must read? Try this excerpt on Heidi’s site!

 

~GIVEAWAY!!!~

Want to win a copy of Special Delivery?
Comment on this post and the winner be be drawn and notified on release day,
February 4, 2014.

 

About the Author
Heidi Cullinan has always loved a good love story, provided it has a happy ending. She enjoys writing across many genres but loves above all to write happy, romantic endings for LGBT characters because there just aren’t enough of those stories out there. When Heidi isn’t writing, she enjoys cooking, reading, knitting, listening to music, and watching television with her husband and ten-year-old daughter. Heidi also volunteers frequently for her state’s LGBT rights group, One Iowa, and is proud to be from the first midwestern state to legalize same-sex marriage.
You can stalk, I mean find Heidi here:

                     
8 Comments leave one →
  1. Debra E permalink
    January 29, 2014 7:19 am

    Don’t enter me into the drawing. I have the book and have read it twice. Just found Heidi’s comments interesting. Even though I’ve been reading m/m almost exclusively for the last two years, I didn’t realize there was a “gay” vs “m/m” labeling distinction. I don’t read fan fiction and didn’t know that’s where the m/m label came from. This was a POV I’ve never heard before.

    • The Risqué Redhead Reads permalink
      January 29, 2014 7:24 am

      Neither did I when I started reading it. In conversation I say I read gay romance as opposed to saying I read m/m…it feels odd to me to verbally use it. I thought it could be that some books are GFY etc. and maybe that was the difference? So when I had the chance to ask I HAD to ask.

  2. January 29, 2014 7:36 am

    I never really knew there was a difference in the labelling like Debra said, though after reading Heidi’s guest post, I understand better now why there is a difference. Try by Ella Frank could probably be classed more as a m/m than say something by Josh Lanyon, since in his stories both characters tend to be gay.

    Special Delivery sounds great and I look forward to reading it at some point. Thanks for the giveaway 🙂

  3. Sunny permalink
    January 29, 2014 7:37 am

    Great review!
    “It was intense and endearing at the same time to watch Mitch give Sam what he wanted and the way he would take care of him was amazing and then for Sam to turn around and give it right back? That knocked me on my ass.”
    Yes! I loved that part of their relationship. So tender, but also… so hot 😉

    I also enjoyed reading Heidi’s thoughts on labeling books. Thank you for picking that question for your post!

    • Sunny permalink
      January 29, 2014 7:38 am

      … oh, and don’t enter me in the giveaway, I have the book already. Thank goodness it’s an ebook, or it would be falling apart from all the reads!

    • The Risqué Redhead Reads permalink
      January 29, 2014 9:02 am

      Thanks, Sunny! These two were amazing. I wanted to say so much but of course I wouldn’t spoil it for anyone. I agree; so tender and so HOT! Goodness. I just loved them. I can’t wait to read more of Randy.

  4. Trix permalink
    January 29, 2014 9:56 am

    I loved the first version of SPECIAL DELIVERY, and am so curious to see what’s new!

  5. Ninna permalink
    March 3, 2014 12:18 pm

    More than a little bit behind here I read Heidi’s post and I think it was both very well written (well, DUH) and also great.
    I can understand why it hasn’t been picked as a subject – at first glance, it’s a bit boring – but it was very informative.
    Thank you, Sara and Heidi

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