Special Delivery
by Heidi Cullinan, contemporary (2010)
Dreamspinner Press, $6.99, ISBN 978-1-61581-359-9


You have no idea what a relief it is for me to read Heidi Cullinan's Special Delivery. At last, a gay hero who actually listens to Kylie Minogue (bonus points to Ms Cullinan for getting the correct album as Sam's favorite), pulls for tricks in a men's room, and generally behaves like a hormonal young man rather than a little girl with a pee-pee!

Normally I adore Anne Cain's cover arts, but for this one, I am not sure. For one, Mitch is supposed to be a rugged trucker. Who is that clean-cut metrosexual dude on the cover supposed to be?

Sam Keller is a student hoping to become an RN, living off his uncle and aunt who view him as a burden and helping at their drug store in Middletown, Iowa. While his late mother taught him to view sex as something beautiful between two people in love, Sam realizes that he enjoys having meaningless quickies with men whose chief attraction is that they are available. They may be using Sam for sex, but Sam doesn't mind at all. So there he is, stuck in a rut. Sam's life not really going anywhere and he lacks the drive to make a difference, and the only moment of bliss in his life arises when he's on his knees servicing a careless lover or dancing away to Kylie Minogue.

His life changes when he meets Mitch Tedsoe, a trucker who, in Sam's eyes, is everything awesome and wonderful. Mitch is gorgeous, of course, built like a Tom of Finland artwork. He is also free, going where his business takes him, and to someone tethered to a dead-end job like Sam, that means that Mitch is the greenest of all pastures. He and Mitch slip into an affair pretty easily, the whole thing culminating in Sam deciding to leave his life behind and follow Mitch in a trip down to the wild west. It is going to be a ten days of sexual bliss, crazy escapades, and, who knows, a little growing up and falling in love.

Special Delivery is a revelation. I have not read anything by this author and therefore I don't have any expectations, high or low, when I start reading. Nothing prepares me for this story. It is a very enjoyable story that manages to combine sex with the magic of falling in love and the coming of age of a 21-year old man. The author does this without turning Mitch into a greeting card or making Sam too bratty. Both characters come off as flawed people with strengths as well as weaknesses. The chemistry between them is solid and I really enjoy how the author manages to sell me on how these two are in love without beating me in the head with it. She shows rather than tells, and it works - wonderfully.

Special Delivery is one of those rare gay romances that do not feel awkward, fake, or contrived to me. Everything flows naturally - the narrative, the pacing, and the character development. The guys do come off as guys, and Sam's youthful insecurities feel really real to the core. This is a wonderful read. You bet I'd be digging out the author's other works from the pile of books in my hard drive.

Rating: 93


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