Double Blind (Special Delivery #2)


Title: Double Blind (Special Delivery #2)
Author: Heidi Cullinan
Publisher: Self Published
Buy link: Amazon.com (Second Edition)
Genre: M/M Contemporary Romance/Menage (m/m/m and m/m/m/m)
Length: Novel
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

A guest review by Lily

Summary review: A wonderfully written story of finding love at the most unexpected of times. Ethan thought his life was just about over and Randy never thought he’d find a love of his own. But when they meet all bets are off in this fast paced and entertaining story. Adding in a couple of best friends and lovers, a casino that’s seen better days and a possible mob connection all set in the exciting city of Vegas made this a  must read story that I highly recommend.

BLURB

Poker player and professional smartass Randy Jansen believes in fate but doesn’t let it rule his life. Whether he’s at the table or between the sheets, Randy always knows the odds, and he only plays the games he can win—until he meets Ethan Ellison. Ethan came to Las Vegas with a broken heart and shattered spirit, and when he sits down at the roulette table with his last five dollars, he means this to be one of his last acts on earth. But Randy ropes him into first one bet, and then another, and then another…. Pretty soon they’re playing poker on the Strip and having the time of their lives—and all this even before Randy gets Ethan into his bed.

But before Ethan can plot out a new course for his life, they’re drafted into the schemes of Randy’s former lover, a tricky gangster who needs a fall guy. To survive, Ethan will have to stop waiting on fate and start making his own luck, and Randy will have to face the demons of his past and accept that to win this round, he’s going to have to put up a big ante. It isn’t money going into the pot this time, either: it’s his heart, and Ethan’s too—because for better or for worse, the game of love has a double blind.

Read about Randy before he meets Ethan in Special Delivery.

Special Delivery Series

REVIEW

This story opens with Randy Jansen watching a man play and lose at the roulette table, over and over again. Watching the video feed with him is his boss Billy Herod and Billy’s godfather, Crabtree. Randy has a well known reputation for being able to read people and he makes a bet with Billy that he knows the man’s story. But within a bit of time after he meets Ethan Ellison, Randy is surprised to learn that he’s lost his bet and as they spend time together his fascination with down on his luck Ethan grows. Before the end of the night both men have surprised the other and their mutual attraction burns hot. After an intense scene in front of the fountains at the Bellagio Randy ends up taking Ethan home with him. Waking up early and heading out for breakfast supplies Randy is surprised when he gets home and finds that his best friends Mitch and Sam have arrived for an early visit.

At this point the story shifts and instead of the focus being solely on Randy and Ethan it now encompasses a mix of characters and relationships as they, along with Mitch and Sam, explore the complexities of friendships, sex with multiple partners and a bit of BDSM kink. Further adding to the mix are Billy and Crabtree and their connections to the mob. There are a few other characters introduced throughout the book that are also good additions to the story. The location of this story, the city of Las Vegas, is wonderfully portrayed and described throughout from the luxurious hotels and casinos to the shabby and more run down sections of the city. Another important part of the story is the game of poker. The author takes time to really show the details of the game and although at times it felt like too much information it nevertheless worked well and was for the most part interesting.

But ultimately it’s the characters that drive this wonderful story. Randy and Ethan are complex and well drawn, opposites in many ways yet they fit together very well. Mitch and Sam, married for two years now, are still very much in love and I really enjoyed their presence in this story. It was wonderful to see how they’ve grown as a couple while still maintaining their relationship with Randy. While I wasn’t too taken with Randy in Special Delivery I really came to love him in this story. The subplot of Sam needing to deal with the loss of his mother years ago and having Randy also benefit from that was nicely done. All four men are flawed in some way, these are not perfect characters at all, and their struggles as they try to get a handle on themselves and their varied relationships was very well written. Aside from a deep friendship Randy, Mitch and Sam also share an ongoing sexual relationship with each other that quickly includes Ethan. There are quite a few menage scenes in the story and they are very hot just as the scenes between Randy and Ethan alone are hot. I did feel at times that the fluidity of the sexual relationships between the four men was a bit unbelievable yet once again it works well within the story.

There are other subplots to the story as well including Ethan’s involvement with Crabtree and Billy’s casino. There is intrigue, suspense and a bit of mystery also. Another fun part of the story focuses on a big event Ethan is planning for the casino. This book has so much going for it and will grab you from page one and not let go. With a mix of great characters and interesting relationships, the wonders of Vegas and the draw of poker as well as the ups and downs of falling in love, this is a story that kept me engaged throughout.

Overall I really enjoyed reading this story but I did have a couple of small issues. My main one is with Ethan. From a down on his luck, ready to end it all man he quickly morphs into a high powered casino executive and a pretty good poker player. He goes from being a man totally in love and really suffering after the end of a long term relationship, which by the way when I read the particulars I didn’t like at all, to quickly falling for someone new and being quite comfortable having sex with that man and his married friends. Added to that is that when his age is revealed it frankly threw me for a loop as I had pictured him to be much younger. I was very surprised with that revelation. Also the passage of time was a bit confusing at times. There is a lot going on in this story and at times it read as if a lot more time had passed than what actually did. A couple of times when time is mentioned it surprised me. That said however these things didn’t take too much away from my enjoyment of the story and may not affect other readers the same.

Double Blind is a very well written book and one that ultimately I really enjoyed reading. The plot is intriguing and exciting, it’s fast paced and has many different subplots that all worked well within the main storyline. The characters are well developed and three dimensional and the relationships explored throughout, whether Randy and Ethan’s, Mitch and Sam’s or the one they all shared together, really drew me in and kept my attention throughout the book. This can be read as a stand alone book but will be better appreciated if read after Special Delivery. I highly recommend Double Blind and look forward to reading more stories by Heidi Cullinan.

21 comments

  • I read “Special delivery” and then “double blind”; I really enjoyed both of them! I loved Randy and Ethan! well, at first I didn’t realise Randy was “the Randy” of “special delivery”!I discovered him and found him nicer in the second book! I also enjoyed the share with Sam. Maybe the author will write another book with these characters, I’d like it.
    (I don’t know but perhaps there is already a book with theses characters, as I’ve read my books in December and the comments date back August! I don’t find books easily in France, I must order them and they are not always available as soon as they are published!)

    • Hi, Mona! I also liked Randy much better in Double Blind and by the time I finished reading it I found I loved it even more than Special Delivery. There’s just something about Randy and Ethan.

      The author wrote a free Christmas story about them which includes a visit from Sam and Mitch. It’s on her website, here’s a link for you. Just click here.

      • hello
        I have read the Christmas story you told me about, and I’m really enthusiastic about it! I am defenitely in love with Randy!!!
        I hope I’ll hear about him and Ethan soon in another story.

  • I’m glad I came back here to read the review or I would have missed a great book. The first portion of the book was a little mindblowing for me and initially couldn’t get past all the poker and poker jargon but underneath and behind that was a really excellent story. I didn’t love it as much as ‘Special Delivery’ but it wasn’t far behind it.

    • Aisha, I’m glad you enjoyed the story. I was a bit overwhelmed by the poker a couple of times but otherwise loved it. 🙂

  • I just finished Special Delivery a couple of days ago and loved it. I only skimmed your review for now; I need to buy Double Blind and read it, then I’ll probably come back here to comment, if I don’t forget. 😉 I’m glad DB earned a high rating!

  • Thank you for the review Lily. I finished the book today and I shared some of your opinion, although I would have given 5 stars despite the little niggles.

    I loved Special Delivery, and Double Blind could almost beat it. For one, I was happy to meet them all again. I couldn’t entirely grip Randy’s character in the first book; his story and the background info here made me understand him a lot better. It was a great read, very gripping in its intensity. And I think it’s about the only “insta-love” story so far I read and totally bought. Even the end wasn’t as sticky-sweet as the previous time.

    Ethan, though, he was difficult. Contrary to what is said above, I saw him pretty much from the beginning as an older man, although what I couldn’t understand was how someone so obviously capable as he could have been content to be a married man’s paramour for so long. There were cracks in his character, but not enough to spoil the enjoyment for me.

    The poker description parts were lengthy, although necessary for the story. Still, I had one major issue with the author using all this technical terms and then commenting that Ethan understood only one word in ten. To me, this felt a bit condescending.

    Still, this book was great, and I’m looking forward to reading more from Heidi Cullinan.

    • How wonderful that you enjoyed the book so much. It was a great story, I actually liked it a bit more than Special Delivery. I’m definitely looking forward to more from Heidi.

      Thanks for your comments. 🙂

  • I read Special Delivery, and it peaked my curiosity about Randy. Then, with all the intriguing reviews about Double Blind, I couldn’t help myself. I bought and began reading it last night.

    I’d like to apologize to anyone even remotely connected to me at the moment, because, except for work, everything else is being blown off until I finish this book.

    Great review, Lily. Thanks.

  • I’m about 2/3 of the way through this book and, while I’m definitely enjoying it, I have the same little issues with it that you do.

    Weirdly, though, it’s the age thing that seems to be bugging me the most. By the way he’s portrayed, I would have guessed Ethan to be around Randy’s age or maybe even a little younger. I was not expecting him to be years older at all. It just doesn’t seem to fit with his character for some reason to me

    Also, the whole sex with Randy’s friends thing kinda bugged me too. I think mostly it’s because I tend to only like m/m, but it also didn’t seem to fit with Ethan’s character – or at least with MY perception of him.

    But other than that, I’m really enjoying the story. I like how Ethan is evolving and how, in turn, it’s causing Randy to evolve as well. I can’t wait to see how it turns out.

    • I totally agree with you, Nichele. When his age was revealed I had a total WTF moment. Although I didn’t think he’d be as young as Sam I was shocked at his age.

      I didn’t really have a problem with the multiple partner sex scenes because I could see the connection between Randy and Ethan. What I didn’t like was his relationship with his ex. Another WTF moment for me. But, he still won me over.

  • The book was a risk for me because I don`t like gambling.
    I`ve read it anyway because I love the characters-especially Randy.
    The description of Las Vegas was indeed wonderful.
    The poker games and explanations of the rules were long,thorough and bordering on boring.For me it was partly an exhausting read.(For me – I´m sure others will like it because of the games and rules )But Randy and Evan were worth it.

    • Simsala, I’ve never played poker and at times I also thought the poker details a bit much. But overall I really enjoyed this one.

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