“And this fucking time the ball didn’t land on black. It landed right on his goddamned fucking number. Because he looked at Ethan, standing there, loving him all-in, and he knew in his bones that he had won in a way he never would again and would never need to.” – Heidi Cullinan
Author: Heidi Cullinan
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Rating: 5 Stars
Blurb: Know when to show your hand…and when to hedge your bets.
Randy Jensen can’t stand to just sit by and watch as a mysterious man throws money away on the roulette wheel, especially since Randy’s got his own bet going as to the reason this guy is making every play like it’s his last day on earth. The man’s dark desperation hits Randy right in the gut. Half of him warns that getting involved is a sucker’s bet, and the other half scrambles for a reason—any reason—to save the man’s soul.
Ethan Ellison has no idea what he’s going to do with himself once his last dollar is gone—until Randy whirls into his life with a heart-stealing smile and a poker player’s gaze that sees too much.
Randy draws Ethan into a series of wagers that leads to a scorching kiss by midnight, but he isn’t the only one with an interest in Ethan’s vulnerability. Soon they’re both taking risks that not only play fast and loose with the law, but with the biggest prize of all: their hearts.
Review: This was a re-read for me. With Tough Love, the third installment in the Special Delivery series coming out in April, I wanted to take advantage of the time and opportunity to re-read Special Delivery and Double Blind, both of which I had originally read and loved in 2010. In my mind, Heidi Cullinan is a must buy. I can’t think of any of her books that I have disliked. I say this even though I am not a fan of more than two people in any relationship, even if it “just” a sexual one. It’s not something I can wrap my mind around because it’s not something I feel comfortable with. Ms. Cullinan manages to make it hot and enjoyable for me to read this type of love scene. I have no idea how, and I find it best not to question it and just go with it.
I found myself liking Randy, a character I disliked when I read Special Delivery. I think my dislike of him comes from my aforementioned love of all things monogamous in a relationship. This is my personal thing, though, and I realize many feel differently and think I am naïve. Allow a girl her naïveté, would ya? I adored Ethan, thought he was a really interesting, smart character, and a good match to Randy’s big personality.
Double Blind, while it is a sequel to Special Delivery, works well as a stand-alone. I didn’t grasp many of the poker details and rules, as I’ve never really gotten the game. For me, they seemed to drag on, and I skipped many of them. I am sure the rules of the game and meanings of different cards and hands were important to understanding the characters. They just weren’t required for me to enjoy the story and love the men in it. Don’t let the poker aspect of the story turn you away; there is so much more to this book than just gambling and Las Vegas. Though, if you understand and love poker, that’s just one more layer of enjoyment for you.
I read Special Delivery not long before Double Blind and couldn’t help but compare the two. The characterizations and character growth were good in both. While I didn’t think Randy and Ethan had the same sexual chemistry as Sunshine and Mitch did, they were still really hot together and as always, Heidi Cullinan wrote some of the hottest sex scenes in M/M fiction.
I liked Randy and Ethan’s relationship, and I thought it was well written. I liked the integral role that the Vegas glimmer and glitz and the mobsters played in the story I have to confess I loved Crabtree. I thought he was just brimming with personality, and he was really well-written as a secondary character. He was quirky, troubled, and a great addition to an already stellar cast of characters.
Double Blind was a very different type of story than was Special Delivery. Special Delivery was a hot and heavy romance, full of passion, kink, emotions, hot sex and love. While Double Blind is definitely a romance, there is character development, the biggest of which is that of Las Vegas herself. It was exciting to see the characters change over the course of this story. Randy and Ethan really learned a lot about themselves as individuals before they committed to a relationship with each other.
I absolutely loved everything about the ending. I liked the twist that I didn’t see coming, and I am usually really good at reading around corners! I liked how things played out with Randy and Ethan, and the poker game. Even though I don’t understand the game, I am able to appreciate a great surprise. I am all-in with my recommendation of Double Blind.