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I'm a hopeful cynic.

Dirty Laundry (A Tucker Springs Novel)

Dirty Laundry - Heidi Cullinan

I started this right after Nowhere Ranch by the same author and I had higher expectations, but maybe I shouldn't have read two books by Heidi Cullinan in a row. Or maybe I shouldn't have read these two books in a row.


First, because there is an easily recognizable pattern/formula. In no particular order:

  • One MC with a PhD, one high school dropout with a learning disability? Check.
  • One crutch-female who, oftentimes, speaks for the MCs and helps them fix their problems, mental or otherwise? Check.
  • At least one MC with a bit of a troubled past? Check.
  • Strained family relationships? Check.
  • Preachy overtone, especially in the second half of the book? Check.
  • Unpleasant side character that used to be close to the MC, but now they're estranged because of the side character's tyrannical and highly judgmental ways that burden and frustrate the MC? Check.
  • Kinky sex? Check.
  • Dirty talk? Check.


Second, because in Dirty Laundry, Ms Cullinan chooses to explore anxiety disorders—OCD in particular—and though she manages all right (and maybe it's just me because I already know enough about the disorder and the medication involved in its treatment,) Adam's long-winded and repetitious mental processes/loops, the way Brad (the nasty ex, see point about the unpleasant side character further up) is conveniently used to push Adam into several panic attacks, the various tropey scenes with jocks bullying Adam, the didactic tones of Louisa (see above, the fixer female) and Adam's new therapist, as well as various other similar details, had Adam come across as a caricature of a person and at the same time had me feeling I was being bludgeoned with the message Ms Cullinan wanted to deliver.


Third, because I didn't feel there was any real chemistry between the MCs, I didn't get why Denver was so interested in Adam, what set him apart from the other twinks Denver had his pick of, at least in the beginning. And, unlike Nowhere Ranch, the BDSM element wasn't very convincing, either.


Fourth, because there were parts that didn't add anything but clutter to the story, like the conversation Denver had over the phone with Adam's mother near the end of the book. Louisa's character felt largely redundant, too, but I suppose she was deemed necessary because Adam needed to also discuss his issues outside the clinical setting and, anyhow, if Denver had El then Adam needed a best friend too.


I won't comment on the atrocious cover. Others have covered that already in their reviews.


All in all, Dirty Laundry wasn't a particularly enjoyable reading experience. It's two and a half stars rounded down, because I gave three stars to Nowhere Ranch and I enjoyed that story much better.