Dirty Laundry by Heidi Cullinan
The blurb on this one intrigued me from the beginning and- hey, full disclosure here- the cover art with those two opposites caught my eye immediately. I really enjoy a story where the characters have to demonstrate true heroism and I mean that in a broader sense than the obvious superheroes and paranormals with all those extra gifts to fight villains. I mean the kind of heroism and courage that is required to fight personal demons, keep fighting and some times win against them. This story portrays both main characters having inner demons and having to learn to deal with that while accepting each other. It turned out to be a wonderful reading journey with Adam and Denver.
Adam and Denver met under unusual circumstances when Denver rescued Adam from some drunken frat bullies at the laundromat. Adam is attracted to Denver and shocks them both when he puts himself out there as available to Denver. Denver gives Adam the most incredible experience of his life that at the same time stirs Denver to even consider a relationship instead of a one and done. Denver gives Adam his phone number and the two virtual strangers part ways.
Adam has severe OCD, depression and anxiety. He considers himself an absolute mess that no one would want to tie themselves to. He is still bruised and smarting from his recent failed attempt at a relationship that forced him to get an apartment and live independently for the first time. The experience with Denver is never far from his thoughts because he remembers that with Denver for once he felt no fear, but only safety. He wants that again so he takes the unprecedented step to contact Denver so he can see him again.
Denver finds himself shaken and unsure. Adam didn’t call him right away and then when he did and they got together Adam didn’t want to come home with him. Usually its Denver pulling away and fending off texts and phone calls. He’s never been the one sitting around hoping the other guy wants him and wants to get with him. Denver is attracted to the tentative Adam and when they finally do get together he is thrilled to the soles of his boots when Adam accepts and takes all of Denver’s more intense needs. But that being said, Denver is aware that Adam is hiding something and its big, but then Denver is hiding things about himself too.
This plot was very much character-driven so it moves along at a gentle pace. The relationship forms from a quick lustful attraction, but it then slows to one that builds with a basis in friendship and growing mutual trust. Both men have needs in the bedroom and issues that make this pace very necessary for the story to be fictionally realistic. Denver is a Dominant and very knowledgeable in the D/s (BDSM) lifestyle. His past has given him a need to be in charge and to take responsibility for another’s care. Adam is new to it, but discovers that it meets his needs to feel safe, to be pleasing to some one and to be cared for by someone. And yes, that means there are scenes of play and punishment and I share that in case it touches a comfort issue for you.
The characters were written in such a way that it was easy to believe that both had the issues that they did (not that I’m an expert when it comes to mental illness or disability and how it affects those who live with it). Like I said, seeing them struggle and triumph was a great part of the story for me.
I should say that this is a sequel in a series and I started with this one. It can be read standalone though there are a couple of scenes with the heroes from the first book. I liked those characters so I’ll definitely be going back to read their story. I find it exciting that each book in the series is written by a different author or pair of authors which will mean that each book will have its own distinct voice.
It’s an easy thing to recommend this story to those who enjoy character-driven M/M Contemporary Romance with moderate BDSM elements and heroes with disabilities.
My thanks to Netgalley and Riptide publishing for an opportunity to read and review this book.
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