hooch & cakeRating: 4.25 stars
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Length: Novella

Mitch Tedsoe and Sam Keller are getting married, but things aren’t as easy as they would hope. The guys are stressed between Sam’s work and school schedules, and Mitch being on the road so often. Neither of them are particularly comfortable in their small Iowa town, but they are stuck there until Sam graduates. And planning a wedding when they have little money and live in a not particularly gay friendly area is proving difficult and dispiriting for them both. Mitch knows someone who can help however… Randy Jansen.

Randy comes into town with a flurry of energy, love, and determination and soon things are rolling along. Randy takes over wedding planning, arranging all the details and making the night wonderful for both men. But even more, Randy helps Mitch and Sam learn how to feel more comfortable in town, how to carve out a place for themselves and their interests, so they can have what they both need. And most importantly, Randy brings his love, companionship, and some hot and kinky sex to share with these men he loves. By the time the wedding rolls around, Mitch and Sam have everything they could want.

I am a huge fan of the Special Delivery series, so I was thrilled when Heidi Cullinan recently released two novellas in the series. Along with The Twelve Days of Randy, Hooch & Cake was formerly a short freebie and it has now been extended and revised for republication. This one sits chronologically between the first two full length novels in the series, Special Delivery and Double Blind. You will really want to have read Special Delivery before this story as that is Sam and Mitch’s book and it introduces not just them, but their very unique relationship with Randy.

On one level, this story is about two things: Mitch and Sam finding their place in the town, and their wedding. These guys have been running ragged with work and school, and with all the chaos, neither has been able to really step back and realize that they are not really quite settled. Sam, in particular, has lost that carefree lightness that he had when traveling with Mitch and is hiding that spark for fear of really being himself in the small town. Randy immediately sees what the men do not and sets about to help them meet more people and even more importantly, find a way to enjoy their kinky side outside of just the two of them the way they really want. The story also serves as the coda to Special Delivery where we get to see Sam and Mitch’s wedding. It is wonderful and romantic and kinky and sex filled, just as you would expect from these men.

What I really loved most here is that while this is the overarching plot, what is really happening here is much deeper and focuses on the connection between the three men. While Mitch and Sam are each other’s centers, there is love there between them and Randy as well. Randy sweeps in and not only brings his kinky, sexy self for lots of fun playtime, but he is able to see what these guys really need and does whatever it takes to get it for them. He is like the dirty fairy godmother, making arrangements and smoothing things over and just generally looking out for them. These men have a very nontraditional relationship, but it is a beautiful one, and this story really highlights that.

This book also serves as the perfect transition between the first two novels in the series. We are tying up Mitch and Sam’s main story and easing our way into Randy’s (which we get in full in Double Blind). As much as these men love each other and as important as Randy is to Mitch and Sam, he is still on the outside of their connection. Though the men will also have an intense bond, we can see that Randy needs someone for himself, and so this story moves perfectly into the next book where we get to see Randy’s HEA. So I think Cullinan does a really nice job with this novella, nicely connecting the two books.

If you are familiar with this series, you will know there is a lot of sex, tons of kink, and multiple partners involved. So this is a sex heavy book, very sexy heavy actually, but that is part of the dynamic between these men so I think it works here. But along with that, this story really shows the emotional connection among them, the deep love and caring these men have for one another, and I think that combination of heart and heat makes for a wonderful story.

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