Cardeno C. - CC to friends - is a hopeless romantic who wants to add a lot of happiness and a few "awwws" into a reader's day. Writing is a nice break from real life as a corporate type and volunteer work with gay rights organizations. Cardeno's stories range from sweet to intense, contemporary to paranormal, long to short, but they always include strong relationships and walks into the happily-ever-after sunset.
Cardeno's Home, Family, and Mates series have received awards from Love Romances and More Golden Roses, Rainbow Awards, the Goodreads M/Romance Group, and various reviewers. But even more special to CC are heartfelt reactions from readers, like, "You bring joy and love and make it part of the every day."
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Family Series Fun Facts
- Each book in the Family series is freestanding but each one has a main character who is related to a main character in another book:
- Asher Penaz (Something in the Way He Needs) is Emilio Sanchez’s (Strong Enough) cousin (on Emilio’s father’s side).
- Adan Navarro (More Than Everything) is Emilio Sanchez’s (Strong Enough) cousin on his mother’s side. Adan and Scott make a cameo at the end of Strong Enough.
- Daniel Tover (Something in the Way He Needs) is friends with Charlie/Chase Rhodes (More Than Everything) and they each have a cameo in the other’s book.
- More Than Everything spans twenty years, so chronologically, it starts before the other books. But that book is written in three parts and the third part starts and ends at the same time as Something in the Way He Needs.
- Scott Boone (More Than Everything) went to college at UNLV, where Spencer Derdinger (Strong Enough) now works.
- A 10 to 12 minute shower uses approximately 10 gallons of hot water. So the 50 gallon tank Emilio Sanchez installed in Spencer Derdinger’s house in Strong Enough gives the guys almost an hour of playtime.
- In 1999 there were 107 geese attacks on people reported. That means Adan Navarro’s (More Than Everything) fear is well-founded.
- Daniel Tover from Something in the Way He Needs has held the following jobs: dancer, masseur, taekwondo instructor, jewelry maker, band member (song writer).
Something in the Way He Needs (Family #1) by Cardeno C.
Police captain Asher Penaz’s staunch professionalism bleeds into his home life, down to his neatly pressed attire and spartan apartment. He enjoys being the man in charge, and leather bars satisfy his need for dominance—so his sudden and powerful attraction to the lighthearted, free-spirited Daniel Tover throws him for a loop. In his entire life, Daniel has never gotten what he needs, so he moves to the next place, the next job, the next attempt to find something worth staying for, always landing at the top of his game, but never feeling like he belongs.
The chemistry between Asher and Daniel sizzles, so Asher invites Daniel home. As both men struggle to learn themselves while getting to know each other, the lines of desire and control blur. With all that fire comes the risk of getting burned. But if Daniel and Asher can walk through the flames together, they might find what they desperately need
“It’s a short flight, sugar. We won’t even be in the air two hours,” Asher said.
Daniel bobbed his head in agreement, but his eyes were wide, he was chewing on his lip, and he was frantically pulling at the threads in his jeans, expanding one of several holes. Clearly, logic as an approach to calm the man wasn’t succeeding.
Asher wasn’t a fan of public displays of affection, or, if he was being completely honest, affection in general unless it led directly to him busting a nut. But he was willing to make an exception in his case. After all, there were extenuating circumstances. Namely, Daniel’s near panic and Asher’s desire to protect the man from any harm, both real and perceived. Weird, but true.
He reached for Daniel’s hand, prying it from the ruined jeans and holding it tightly. “Just close your eyes and relax.” Asher rubbed his thumb back and forth over the back of Daniel’s hand, the gesture as unfamiliar as it was instinctive. “We’ll be landing before you know it.”
Daniel nodded again, less frantically this time, squeezed his eyes shut, and burrowed his face under Asher’s chin. It made no sense, but he was clearly petrified. Asher continued holding his hand as the plane taxied down the runway. As soon as the wheels left the ground, Daniel lurched up and gripped both armrests so hard his knuckles turned white.
“Shhh, sugar,” Asher said. “It’s okay. Promise.”
Scared, needy eyes looked up at him. “Ash?” Daniel said. “Yeah?” Asher once again put his hand on top of Daniel’s and stroked it.
“Will you—” Daniel licked his dry lips. “Will you kiss me?”
All the reasons Asher normally had for avoiding that type of intimacy escaped him in that moment. He cupped Daniel’s cheek with one hand, gripped his nape with the other, and leaned down, touching his lips hesitantly to Daniel’s. A sigh was his reward as Daniel melted against him, and Asher decided maybe he didn’t hate kissing as much as he’d thought. He increased the pressure of his mouth against Daniel’s, darted his tongue out and swiped it across Daniel’s lower lip and then pushed it into his mouth when the man parted his lips on a sigh. All right, so maybe he more than didn’t hate it.
Stong Enough (Family #2) by Cardeno C.
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
“Hey, hold up!”
Spencer heard the voice behind him and was torn between following the demand or running the remaining few steps to his Accord . Ignoring the person calling out to him would be socially awkward. Not that he was a top authority on social graces, but he was pretty sure running away would be considered rude. So Spencer stopped, took a deep breath, and slowly turned around, keeping his briefcase against his chest.
Of course, he had no idea what kind of protection some leather and paper could offer, or even why he needed protection. Other than the first day he’d seen the handsome man, he hadn’t been caught staring. Plus, they were in a public parking lot, in broad daylight. He was safe.
“Hey, uh, hi!” the guy shouted as he jogged over. “I’m Emilio Sanchez.”
Now that he was face-to-face with the big man, or actually face to neck, Spencer realized he had been wrong in thinking Emilio was as attractive in person as he had been through the window. No, as it turned out, up close and personal the man was even more stunning. The first time he had walked by the construction site and locked eyes with the stranger, Spencer had turned away within seconds. But this time, the broad chest was right in front of him, the sweat-damp T-shirt stretched over muscles Spencer wanted desperately to touch, and as close as they were standing to each other, the scent of sawdust and musk born of hard work permeated his nose. And that quickly, Spencer felt his cock filling.
Not since he’d been a teenager had he experienced spontaneous erections. And in recent years, he had often found them hard to achieve or maintain even when he was naked in bed with a man. Orgasms, whether alone or with someone, were so infrequent that Spencer couldn’t remember the last time he’d had one. He had chalked it up to age, to stress at work, to some bad relationships in his past, to the fact that he hadn’t ever had a particularly high sex drive. But none of those factors were stopping him now.
Just a few seconds next to this man and Spencer was already achingly hard. Then he gulped and looked up into chocolate-brown eyes and shuddered as his balls drew up and his dick pushed against his zipper. It was as close to cumming as he’d been since an unusually active night with his ex over a year prior. Spencer would have been terrified—should have been terrified—that the man in front of him would notice his erection, but it felt so good to want again, to experience that pull in his groin, he couldn’t bring himself to feel anything but relief as he lowered his arm so his briefcase covered his bulge.
“We’ve been doing work close to your office, so I’ve seen you around,” Emilio said, making Spencer realize he had been staring, but not talking. Then the stranger held his hand out and added, “I’ve wanted to meet you.”
“Oh!” Spencer looked down at the offered palm and then back up at the handsome face. He switched his case from his right hand to his left, making sure to keep it in place, shielding his groin. Then he took the man’s hand and shook it. “I’m Spencer,” he said, proud that his voice shook only a tad. “Spencer Derdinger.”
“I was right,” Emilio said, sounding quieter, huskier. Spencer waited for clarification about that statement, but it didn’t come. Instead Emilio held his gaze and his hand.
“Right about what?” Spencer finally asked, his curiosity getting the better of him.
“That you sound as great as you look.”
Not knowing what to say or how to respond, Spencer started blinking rapidly and stammering. “I don’t… I… what?”
“What are you doing for dinner tonight?” Emilio asked before Spencer had finished processing the earlier comment.
Feeling completely flummoxed, he didn’t know what to say. He looked at his wristwatch instinctively, then back at the man standing in front of him and said, “It’s only three thirty.”
The contrast between Emilio’s shiny white teeth and his deep tan skin and five o’clock shadow made his smile all the more powerful.
“Good point. We shouldn’t wait for dinner. Let’s start the weekend now.”
“Start the weekend…. Wait, what are we talking about?” Spencer asked.
“Well, right now we’re talking about hanging out for a little while and then getting dinner together.” Emilio hadn’t moved his gaze from Spencer’s face for even a second. He didn’t remember ever having someone look at him so intently. It made his legs quake. “But I’m hoping I’ll be able to talk you into stretching things out longer. At least until after breakfast.”
“Breakfast?” Spencer repeated, hating that he couldn’t seem to put together a sentence. He was a numbers guy. Words weren’t his specialty and neither were people, so he didn’t expect to be charming or a brilliant orator, but a complete sentence would have been nice. Of course, before his mouth could work, his brain would need to catch up to the situation at hand.
“Yes.” Emilio raised his free hand and covered the back of Spencer’s with it, making him realize they were still holding on from that handshake. “I make a mean omelet,” he said as he moved his fingers over Spencer’s skin with barely there touches. “Do you have jalapenos?”
“No.” Spencer shook his head and then wondered why he had answered the question. The entire conversation made no sense. “But—”
“That’s okay. We can always pick some up later. I’ll come by now and check your fridge to see what else we’ll need.”
Truly, the entire conversation was confusing to the point where Spencer wondered if he was dreaming. He half expected a frog to ride by on a flying bicycle at any moment. He could think of only one possible explanation that would lend some logic to the situation, but it seemed very unlikely. No way was this man looking to hook up with him.
At the risk of getting punched, or worse, Spencer steeled his courage and said, “Uh, Emilio.” He swallowed hard and took a deep breath. “Are you, uh, coming on to me?”
As soon as he said the words, he realized how ridiculous they sounded. Emilio was all cut muscles, chiseled features, and perfect hair. Someone who looked like that wouldn’t have given Spencer a second glance ten years ago, when they would have been closer to the same age. To think it was happening now, when he was softer, grayer, and more lined, was positively preposterous.
But then, contrary to any expectation Spencer had for the response to his question or, for that matter, the entire conversation, Emilio lifted their joined hands to his mouth and gently kissed Spencer’s palm. Spencer was pretty sure nobody had done that to him, ever, and it made his heart flutter.
“Yeah, 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 his own hand against his chest. “You have dimples.” He sighed loudly. “I think I’m in love.”
Spencer’s jaw dropped and all the color drained from his face. “What?”
Without bothering to answer his question, Emilio pointed at Spencer’s Honda and asked, “Is this your car?” Spencer nodded. “I’ll follow you to your place, okay?” Emilio didn’t wait for an answer, just dipped his face down, planted a kiss on Spencer’s cheek, and jogged back to his truck.
It was the single most perplexing exchange of Spencer’s life. He wasn’t sure what had just happened, what he was supposed to do now, or what was going to happen. With his entire body trembling, he decided to perform simple, familiar tasks: walk, open his car door, put the key in the ignition, and pull out of the parking lot.
He drove home on autopilot, his brain still in that parking lot processing his interaction with the handsome younger man who had looked at him in a completely unfamiliar way. Then he glanced at his rearview mirror and saw the big white truck following him. It was terrifying, like having a freight train barreling straight at him.
No, that was a bad analogy. With a freight train he’d know what to do—jump out of the way as fast and as far as possible. But this was a gorgeous man with an unexpectedly gentle touch. So, contrary to any logic he should have been smart enough to have or self-preservation instincts he was old enough to have developed, Spencer didn’t drive to the nearest police station or a friend’s house or a public place. Instead, with his heart slamming against his ribcage, his breath coming out at an unusually fast clip, and his dick still hard as steel, he continued to drive straight home.
More Than Everything (Family #3) by Cardeno C.
As a teenager, Charlie "Chase" Rhodes meets Scott Boone and falls head over heels in love with the popular, athletic boy next door. Charlie thinks he's living the dream when Scott says he feels the same way. But his dreams are dashed when Scott moves unexpectedly and doesn't return.
Years later, Chase meets brash and confident Adan Navarro, who claims all he wants is a round between the sheets. When they're still together after eight months, Chase is convinced Adan returns his love. But then the time comes to be open about their relationship, and Adan walks away instead.
Time heals all wounds, but when Charlie runs into Scott and Adan and realizes the only two men he's ever loved are now in love with each other, his heart breaks all over again. Scott and Adan tell Charlie they want him back, but Charlie doesn't know if he can trust two people who have hurt him so deeply. And even if he can, why would Scott and Adan want Charlie when they already have everything with each other?
I was so lost in thought, I had the door open before I looked up. I raised my head when I saw two sets of feet walk in.
And there, standing in my apartment, were Scott Boone and Adan Navarro. I gasped and leaped back from the physical embodiments of the ghosts who had never stopped haunting me.
“Charlie!” Scott shouted happily, and at the same moment Adan excitedly cried out, “Chase!”
It was like a fucking nightmare.
“Fuck,” I muttered and turned my head quickly from my first love to the only other man I’d trusted with my heart. They’d each eviscerated me once upon a time, and though I’d healed, mostly, being faced with both of them at the same moment was still too much… way too much. I suddenly felt as nauseous as Stacia.
Adan slowly turned his head to Scott, whose mouth was gaping open.
“Charlie?” Adan asked weakly.
Scott closed his mouth and gulped. “Chase?” he said.
“Fuck,” I groaned, as my brain started catching up to the comedy of horrors unfolding in front of me. It wasn’t just that they were both there at the same time. They had been standing close together when I’d opened the door. Really close. And was Scott’s arm around Adan’s back?
They both looked over at me and stared.
“Charlie?” Scott asked, his voice hesitant, the question clear from histone.
“Chase?” Adan asked, sounding equal parts incredulous and horrified. Their tones and body language had already clued me in to what I was seeing, but when I shifted my gaze from Scott’s eyes to Adan’s and then back again, my suspicion was confirmed. I knew them well enough to recognize what I was seeing.
I’d loved two men during my thirty-five years on this planet. Only two. And I’d lost them both. Wouldn’t it just figure that they’d found in each other what they had both deemed missing in me?
I dropped my face into my hands and whispered, “Fuck.”
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