Strong Enough (Family Series #2), Cardeno C

Strong EnoughRating: 5 Stars

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Genre:  Gay Romance

Tags: Trust, Sweet, Series, Contemporary

Length:  200 Pages

Reviewer: Mary

Purchase At: Dreamspinner Press,



Okay, this is my first review for On Top Down Under so you will have to bear with me as you get used to my style.  This is also my first ever Cardeno C book, although lots of my friends have been talking her and her books up.


The Blurb…


When twenty-two-year-old Emilio Sanchez sees handsome Spencer Derdinger walking by his construction site, Emilio makes it his goal to seduce the shy professor. Getting Spencer into bed isn’t difficult, but Emilio soon learns that earning the trust of a man deeply hurt will take time and patience. With a prize like brilliant, sweet Spencer on the line, Emilio decides he is strong enough to face the challenge.


Spencer is surprised when he’s approached by the gorgeous construction worker he’s admired from the safety of his office window. Acting spontaneously for the first time in his thirty-eight years, Spencer takes Emilio home. When the casual hookup turns into the potential for love, Spencer realizes that if he wants to build a life with Emilio, he’ll need to be strong enough to slay his personal demons and learn to trust again.


The Review…


I picked this book to review, on the strength of the blurb alone and lets say here and now the blurb is right on the money.  I settled down on the plane trip home (FYI: I have just been on holidays to Thailand for my sister’s birthday, sans husband and children), I had eaten and watched a movie whilst doing so and I was ready to see what Cardeno C had in store for me..


It was a sweet, sexy and easy read… There… all three of my criteria all sown up.  I loved the two MC’s, I loved the simple, yet not so simple storyline.  There is no major outside drama to deal with, only relationship and character questions, the main one being… Are they strong enough?


Spencer resonated with me for a few reasons.  He is bewildered as to why this gorgeous young man would be attracted to him and it shows.

“Uh Emilio.” He swallowed and took a deep breath.  “Are you coming on to me?” 

He is shy and for the main part socially inept, with only a few friends and a family that he never sees anymore.  He has just come from a bad relationship, which seems like just the last one in a few.  He does not trust easily and has no real sex drive to speak of.  Is he strong enough to overcome this?


I fell hard and fast for Emilio.  He is young, and sometimes it shows, but he is wise and honest and nice and charming and wicked and just mmmmmm all rolled up in a construction workers hard ripped body.

“Yes I am,” Emilio said.  “But if you have to ask. I must not be doing a very good job of it.”  Emilio grinned as he spoke and his eyes sparkled.  “I’ll see what I can do to be more clear once we get to your place.”

The corners of Spencer’s lips tilted up in response.  How could he not smile with this man looking at him like that?

“Oh Holy shit!” Emilio gasped as he let go of Spencer and pressed is own hand against his chest.  “You have dimples.”  He sighed loudly.  “I think I’m in love.”

He is patient and enamoured with Spencer.  He thinks him smart and cute and in need of someone to take care of him and he recognises early on what Spencer can’t tell him.   Is he strong enough to wait or help?


He has a family that love him and accept him and treat him like the adored younger brother.  Some of the brother banter scenes are imagehilarious and I felt myself flinching and giggling from familiarity.


This is a character driven story and it is well written.  Not too heavy, if it was a movie it would be a romcom.  There is an underlying issue for Spencer, which ends up being no surprise, either to the reader or Emilio, when Spencer finally tells him.  The whole build up and the “normal” development of their relationship is handled beautifully by CC.  The evolution of trust and patience is beautiful to read, and Emilio actually listens to some of the advice from his family, especially his sister.


The secondary characters featured  are strong and in perfect support for Emilio and Spencer.  They showcase and support the growth of both men and their relationship.  Emilio’s background means that he is uniquely equipped to help Spencer and he recognises early on that Spencer most likely is his forever guy.


The sex was hot and sweet at the same time.  I love when we are getting Spencers POV and he is just amazed at how he feels around Emilio, also how Emilio learns to appreciate and emulate Spencers staying in the moment and not rushing towards orgasm all the time.  As I said damn hot and sweet as well.  Emilio also does not rush him and only pushes him when he thinks Spencer can handle it but immediately pulling back if he goes too far for Spencer (the sexiest thing being that he can read Spencer and doesn’t need to be hit over the head with it).


I was happy to spend my flight home with Spencer and Emilio and their friends, not happy to leave them.   Want more, as usual…  I loved these guys and their gentle story. And although this is the second in Cardeno’s Family series it can be read as a stand alone.  Come along with me and lets see who’s Strong Enough…


This book was supplied by Dreamspinner Press in return for an honest review.

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Great review, Mary, and welcome to On Top Down Under! You have me wanting to read about Emilio and Spencer now. 🙂

Again, welcome, and thanks so much for taking the time to review for us.


Thanks for the welcome guys. It was a nice easy one for my first one. And they are cute Cindi, well worth the time..