ARC, Books

Book 171: Dirty Laundry (Tucker Springs #3) – Heidi Cullinan

Cullinan, Heidi - Dirty LaundrySometimes you just need a bit of fluff to make life seem less hectic. And that’s exactly what this series is for me: a temporary escape from I usually read and from the every day happenings of life. I mean as soon as I start reading one of these (or my Jane Austen fan-fic) I immediately have a smile on my face and start giggling to myself.

This is my first Galley of 2013 and I don’t plan on reading too many this year because of my huge backlog of owned books. I have one left over from 2012 and two additional I’ve requested this year, but I’m only planning on requesting them if they are for series (like this one) or by an author I really want to read, like the second one I’ve requested from the Other Press. I received a copy of Dirty Laundry via NetGalley and this is my honest response and I have received no compensation.

I don’t really know where to go with this response. I’ll start with the positives. Dirty Laundry was a quick and fun read. I’m not sure I’d call it engaging, but it held my attention well enough that I read it in less than 24 hours. Dirty Laundry appears much more sexually explicit than the first two in the Tucker Springs universe, but I think that has to do with the fact this novel includes BDSM play. Surprisingly, I wasn’t bothered by the sexual explicitness of this novel (I’m a prude we know this), even though Cullinan jumped right to it at the beginning of the second chapter.

Now for the downside. I think Cullinan is a mediocre writer, but has a lot of potential. As a woman writing about sex between men, she clearly is able to write outside of her (assumed) realm of knowledge and do it convincingly, however I had major issues with her over use of descriptors. Rather than making the readers feel what it was like to be as nervous or panicked as Adam during a panic attack, she described it (one specific example is that she mentioned a blender blade spinning in his stomach). The idea of showing, not telling, would help Cullinan to further expand her repertoire. But this is interesting because she only seems to have this issue outside of the intimate scenes.

In addition to Cullinan’s writing, which as I said wasn’t too big of an issue, I had issues with the story line and one character. The storyline problem, has very little to do with Cullinan and more to do with the romance-genre in general. Perhaps I’m slightly jaded, or perhaps I’m frustrated at the happily ever after, but these novels (and the majority of romance type novels I’ve read) happen so fast that it just doesn’t seem believable. I mean sure I can believe the random hookup in the laundromat, but the falling madly in love and overcoming all sorts of obstacles and then deciding to build a house together in just three months – come on! I will say, compared to the first two stories I read, this one did a better job of explicitly saying this happened over a series of months, but I’m still torn amongst: 1) there’s no way that happened that fast; 2) there must be something wrong with me why don’t I fall madly in love like this; and 3) even if this is just fiction, should I want this type of whirl wind romance/life?

However, if there was one thing that I was incredibly wary of by the end of the novel, it was the inclusion of Louisa, a MtF character. Let me start by saying I applaud Cullinan for expanding the Tucker Springs diversity and that it can only add to future stories, especially as Louisa is a pretty bad-ass character AND is going to be a social worker! But my wariness arises from all of the previous best friend tropes (black, Hispanic, gay, disabled). I in no way think this was Cullinan’s intention, however I felt that the ‘trans’ revelation came too quickly and too cleanly (or at least the first time) and that it just sort of felt stuck in. The second time it seemed much better and much less forced which was great! I just wonder what Cullinan’s thoughts were in including Louisa as a character apart from adding an other for Adam to identify and seek support with.

I also didn’t like the book cover, but that’s because I imagined both Adam and Denver differently, as with all of the other characters in Tucker Springs so far 😀

Recommendation: If you’re a prude you might want to pass on this one, it’s very sexually explicit. If you’re not interested in male-male action you should definitely pass on this. If you’ve got an open mind, it’s definitely worth a read especially for Louisa’s bad-assness.

Opening Line: “None of Adam Ellery’s fantasies had ever involved a muscle-bound and cowboy-hat-wearing avenging angel, but they would now.”

Closing Line: “Adam shut his eyes and opened for him, taking his lover home.” (Whited out.)


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