Daddy, Daddy and Me – Sean Michael

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“Like the gay version of Mary Poppins?”

 

In a word: Read the thing. First of all, most of this is stupidly adorable. There are a few other things going on, but the main drive of the story is Jeff and Donny falling in love while caring for Jeff’s two adorable children. The grand majority of the scenes are either Jeff and Donny being cute with the children, or Jeff and Donny being stupidly cute together (while also having sex, there is quite a bit of sex). There are a few dark parts to the story, like the fact that Jeff and his older son are still trying to get over the loss of the children’s mother, who died in a house fire a few weeks before the story starts; and Jeff being hounded by his asshole ex who turns out to be a psycho. But the overall tone of the story is light and fluffy. Jeff, who was technically only meant to be a sperm donor and function in the children’s lives as their godfather, is in way over his head with these two babies he suddenly has care of. His lifestyle as a single dad who works long hours means that he needs to bring someone in to help with childcare, that’s where Donny comes in. Donny is a gay nanny who has been turned down for every childcare job he’s applied for so far, which sucked at first but really ends up turning out for the better. Jeff and Donny don’t waste much time in falling head over heels in love with each other, and they quickly move from ‘employer and employee’ to ‘family’. A lot of this is slice of life stuff with Jeff and Donny taking care of the kids and falling for each other. Actually one problem I did have was that I felt that Jeff and Donny got together too soon and then I got anxious every time they had cute romantic scenes together because it felt like it wouldn’t last. The story didn’t seem to be going anywhere so I was just waiting for the other shoe to drop. Some conflict and drama did pop up later in the story, which did save things. I really did like Jeff and Donny’s relationship, and their relationships with the children. Most of the story is complete fluff, which isn’t really everyone’s thing, but it’s pretty inoffensive and fun. Some of the darker aspects of the story were a bit unexpected and more serious than I was expecting, but they do make for a nice break from all the rainbows and sunshine. Definitely recommend if you enjoy cute stories about easy romances and cute children.

 

The Summary: (from Goodreads) When Jeff agreed to be the sperm donor to his best friend Beth, he never expected a tragedy to leave his newborn and three-year-old motherless. Beth’s loss has totally thrown his life into chaos: his lover has left him, his house isn’t anywhere near childproof, and his boss feels the restaurant has been patient enough with Jeff’s time off.

Donny has always known he wanted to work with kids, and he just finished his degree in early childhood education. He didn’t count on the prejudice he’d face as not only a male nanny, but a gay one at that. Job-hunting has been frustrating to say the least, so when he knocks on Jeff’s door and is greeted by the sounds of things breaking and a pair of screaming children, he thinks maybe he can begin this particular interview with a trial by fire.

Becoming the nanny to Jeff’s children might be a dream come true for Danny and exactly what Jeff needs, but are either of them ready to really be a family?

 

[available for purchase from Dreamspinner Press, Amazon.ca, Chapters, and Barnes & Noble]

 

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The Teddy Bear Club (The Teddy Bear Club #1) – Sean Michael

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“Dev laughed again, and Aiden decided he really liked the sound of it, bright and full of life.”

 

In a word: Maybe read the thing. This book probably won’t be for everyone. It’s very sweet and fluffy and very kid-centric. I was drawn to the story because of the summary, but the summary turned out to be a bit inaccurate. Most of the story is complete fluff and the minutia of daily baby care while Aiden and Dev’s romance kinda just falls into place. There is some drama with Dev’s mother, but that ultimately never comes to anything and more or less seemed like a waste of time. Though it was an entertaining break from all the child care fluff (seriously, if you don’t like reading about children in your romances you won’t like this book, like, at all). Really, everything of substance in this story doesn’t come to much since most of the focus remains on Aiden and Dev coming together and merging their families (probably a bit quick, but whatever, Dreamspun). Aiden and Dev getting together happened very easily, like there was pretty much no angst surrounding that. It was welcome, unnecessary relationship drama just for the sake of it can get pretty annoying, but also there wasn’t really anything in there to fill that gap. Aiden and Dev took care of their children together with very little fuss, they were always fairly upbeat and positive, and everything was just really overly cute. They had no obstacles, and when the closest things to obstacles did show up it ultimately came to nothing. It was a nice change to read a romance where the couple didn’t have to fight for every little aspect of their happiness, but it was also pretty boring to read a romance where every interaction was written out as a series of steps. There were whole sections of the story where one scene went on for pages because it was full of step-by-step actions and bland dialogue. Sometimes Aiden’s oldest daughter had some cute interactions, and Aiden and Dev’s friends could be pretty funny, but everything was mostly bland (even the sex scenes got a bit long). The thing with Dev’s mother was really a non-issue and a bit of a let-down considering how she was built up. Though I will say that it was a nice change to read a story like this (with an evil grandparent demanding custody of a child they don’t actually have rights to) where the current parent/guardian doesn’t just roll over and accept a ton of abuse in the name of keeping the peace (this seems to be a thing with Harlequin romances, of which the Dreamspun Desires books resemble). Also the fact that we never get much closure with Dev’s sister and her situation was a bit disappointing. Anyway, the biggest problem this book has is that it’s kinda boring and over-padded with minutia. Definitely avoid this if you aren’t a fan of children in romances.

 

The Summary: (from Goodreads) Two lonely men. One perfect family.

Aiden Lake adopted his institutionalized sister’s two daughters, and he’s a good dad. He works nights on websites and gets in his adult time twice a week at the Roasty Bean, where he meets with other single gay parents.

Devon Smithson wants to be a good dad now that his sixteen-year-old sister asked him to babysit her newborn… three months ago. But he’s overwhelmed with the colicky baby. An invitation to the daddy-and-kid gatherings at the café is a godsend. The pot is sweetened when his friendship with Aiden develops into more—maybe even something that can last.

But the mother who kicked Dev out for being gay wants to get her claws into the baby, and she doesn’t care if she tears Dev, Aiden, and everything they’re building apart in the process.

 

[available for purchase from Dreamspinner Press, Amazon.ca, Book Depository, Chapters, and Barnes & Noble]

 

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A Heart for Robbie – J.P. Barnaby

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“Daddy loves you so much, and I’m going to make it all better. I promise.”

 

In a word: Read the thing. This was a heavy read. Holy shit. I knew going in that this book involved a very sick child and a lot of serious medical situations, but I had no idea that Robbie was only a newborn. Like, sick children in general is depressing, but just the image of a teeny tiny newborn having to go through all the pain Robbie has to go through is especially hard to read about. This book really has two distinct aspects to it: the first, and major, one is baby Robbie’s fight for survival and how his single father Julian deals with it all; the second is Julian’s romantic relationship with insurance coordinator Simon. Although Julian and Simon’s relationship is important in the grand scheme of things, and also involves Simon’s journey in coming out of the closet for the first time ever, Robbie’s care and illness definitely comes across as the more involved part of the story. The stakes certainly seem higher for it, anyway. The romantic aspect of the story starts out very slowly. The story starts with Robbie’s traumatic birth and the focus mostly stays on Robbie and Julian for a while. There are some chapters from Simon’s point of view but they mostly focus on his strained relationship with his mother and his fears over coming out, because Julian and Simon don’t really cross paths at first. Once Julian and Simon really start connecting, though, their relationship becomes more prominent in the story and the two plotlines start meshing together. This book can be a bit of a heavy read, but pretty much all of that comes from Robbie’s medical issues and how Julian and his family deal with them. Simon has some drama on his end with his fear of coming out and the homophobia he deals with, and the threat to his job if it comes out that he’s dating a patient’s father, but the relationship itself actually is surprisingly without much conflict (there isn’t even a third-act breakup). This read was very emotional and suspenseful, but I really enjoyed it. Maybe don’t read it if you need a pick-me-up, but it’s still good. Julian and Simon are great, Robbie is sweet, and the ending didn’t ruin anything for me.

 

The Summary: (from Goodreads) Waiting for someone else’s child to die so yours can live is the worst kind of Hell

Celebrated Young Adult author Julian Holmes pits the heroic characters in his Black Heart series against all different kinds of monsters. But when a critical heart defect threatens his son’s life, he finds he has no champion. No amount of books, classes, or practice can prepare Julian for the fight to save his beautiful son’s life.

Suddenly there are hospitals, transplant lists, and the nightmare of insurance red tape to navigate. In the midst of his trouble, Julian meets Simon Phelps, the insurance coordinator for Robbie’s case. Simon lives so deep in the closet he might never find his way out, but he dreams of exactly what Julian has. Then one night, drunken need and desperation brings them together, and a new fight begins.

 

[available for purchase from Dreamspinner Press, Amazon.ca, Book Depository, Chapters, and Barnes & Noble]

 

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Don’t Try This at Home (Anthology) – First Five Stories

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  • Basil’s Luck – Read the thing
  • Midnight Caller – Read the thing
  • Boy Next Door – Read the thing
  • Gremlins in the Works – Read the thing
  • Attack of the Hedgehogs – Maybe read the thing

(going forward anthology short stories will be getting their own posts as a quick review)

 

The Summary: (from Goodreads) Bonked heads. Rough carpet. Burned dinner. Awkward silence. Bitten lips. Startling length. Spilled wax. Pinched fingers. Shattered wineglass. Closet quickie. Flat souffle. Broken bedframe. Shower sex. Overzealous spanking. Embarrassing ex. Lost wallet. Terrible taste. Sore shoulders. Noxious odor. Absent date. Unbelievable girth. Kitchen canoodling. New toy. Stained sheets. Backward compliment. Stifling pillow. Locked handcuffs. Aching ass. Missing keys. Torn seams. Wrenched back. Angry cat. Overeager pass. Uncooperative zipper.

Something always goes wrong in real life. Fortunately, in these stories love blunts the edges so that romance always triumphs over adversity.

Stories included are:

Midnight Caller by Anna Birmingham
Snapshots by Rena Butler
Basil’s Luck by Henrietta Clarke
Boys, Toys, and Carpet Fitters by Taylin Clavelli
Outbursts by Bell Ellis
Tyler Wang Has a Ball by Kim Fielding
Boy Next Door by Ellee Hill
Gremlins in the Works by Kiernan Kelly
Good Food Gone Bad by Venona Keyes
Attack of the Hedgehogs by Kate Pavelle
It’s Not What You Think by Teegan Loy
Slippery When Wet by K. Lynn
Desperate Measures by E.T. Malinowski
Gordon’s Cat by Aundrea Singer
Photo Finish by AC Valentine

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The Boy Next Door – Kate McMurray

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“Jase looked at Lowell then, straight in the eye, and Lowell felt something crackle between them. That surprised him.”

 

In a word: Maybe read the thing. I really wanted to like this one. I did like the premise of two childhood friends reconnecting as adults and falling in love, but I feel like this particular story had a bit too much conflict for my liking. A lot of conflict that didn’t have much in the way of resolutions, which didn’t help any. I’m always a fan of some angst with a happy ending, and I did like that aspect of the story, but I did find myself getting annoyed at the two leads. Well, I shouldn’t say both leads, I was more annoyed with Jase than I ever was with Lowell. My main problem with Lowell was that I thought that he tortured himself too much over Jase. Jase is a very scared man. The community he lives in seems to be fairly homophobic, and his ex-wife is both homophobic and bitter so she’s an extra stressor for him. All Jase seems to want to do is to do his job, raise his daughter, and make as few waves as possible. He’s only really starting to come to terms with the fact that he’s gay, but he’s spent so long hiding it because of fear and self-loathing that he’s having a hard time with it. Pretty much all the relationship conflict between him and Lowell comes from this, and it gets really annoying when Jase runs hot and cold with Lowell and Lowell seems to just take it. Outside of all that drama there were also a few subplots going on, and none of them really got any concrete resolutions. That was a real disappointment because time was devoted to those but they ultimately didn’t go very far. I don’t know if there’s a sequel that continues the story, but if there isn’t the ending to this book is just a bit disappointing. Really, I spent a lot of the story annoyed with Jase and feeling bad for Lowell, which didn’t really make for an enjoyable read. It was fine to start with, with the angst and whatnot, but I think it all just dragged out for too long and I was tired of it all by the end.

 

The Summary: (from Goodreads) Life is full of surprises and, with luck, second chances.

After his father’s death, Lowell leaves the big city to help his sick mother in the conservative small town where he grew up. He’s shocked to find himself living next to none other than his childhood friend Jase. Lowell always had a crush on Jase, and the man has only gotten more attractive with age. Unfortunately Jase is straight, now divorced, and raising his six-year-old daughter. It’s nice to reconnect, but Lowell doesn’t see a chance for anything beyond friendship.

Until a night out together changes everything.

Jase can’t fight his growing feelings for Lowell, and he doesn’t want to give up the happy future they could have. But his ex-wife issues an ultimatum: he must keep his homosexuality secret or she’ll revoke his custody of their daughter, Layla. Now Jase faces an impossible choice: Lowell and the love he’s always wanted, or his daughter.

 

[available for purchase at Dreamspinner Press, Amazon.ca, Book Depository, Chapters, and Barnes & Noble]

 

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In His Arms Again – Lisa Marie Davis

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“After five years of denying himself, resisting temptation, distracting himself with work and family concerns, Ayden was at a crossroad, but he had no control of the direction he was about to take.”

 

In a word: Read the thing. Honestly, I wasn’t really sure if I was gonna like this one, but then it punched me right in the feels and I was totally here for it. Ayden is a business man who has spent the last five years in a marriage of convenience with a woman because of his homophobic father’s scheming. He has been living a lie for all that time, and would probably have continued on with it had a reason to change not literally fallen right into his lap. Ayden meets Simon on a plane and they form an immediate connection (and then join the mile-high club, because go big or go home I guess). Ayden’s not sure what’s come over him, but he knows that he desperately wants to be with Simon while at the same time knowing that he can’t if he wants to keep the family company. Things are a bit different now than they were five years ago, and Ayden’s realizing that neither he nor his wife are happy in their marriage anymore. They both want to be able to live their true lives, but they can’t unless they’re willing to make some very drastic changes. The situation that Ayden is in, through no fault of his own, is heartbreaking. Between his late father’s fuckery, his monster of a step-mother’s evil, and his own unhappiness with it all, he’s got a lot to deal with. Finding Simon was a bit of a dream-come-true for him, even though he came very close to losing him. The emotional ups and downs in this book are amazing, especially for a read this short. I also really loved the support system Ayden found for himself, and the love they all shared. The epilogue was maybe a bit too sweet for my tastes, especially considering how the main story ended, but I still enjoyed the ride from beginning to end.

 

The Summary: (from Goodreads) Five years ago a cruel clause in his father’s will forced Ayden Judson into marriage to keep the family company, and to protect that business from his stepmother’s machinations, Ayden decided to live without love. But when handsome gallery owner Simon Gibson literally falls into Ayden’s lap on a transatlantic flight, he shakes Ayden’s resolve, and by the time they land, Ayden knows he doesn’t want to live without Simon. Simon, burned before by a married man, refuses to hide. So once more, Ayden must choose between happiness for himself and the good of the company-threatened by how dark his stepmother’s plans have become-except Ayden knows he’ll give up all the money and success in the world just to have Simon in his arms again.

 

[available for purchase at Dreamspinner Press, Amazon.ca, Chapters, and Barnes & Noble; also available in the bundle Lisa Marie Davis’ Greatest Hits]

 

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Derek – B. G. Thomas

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“Men with men. Men who weren’t afraid to be with other men. Men who admitted who and what they were. Yes. He had a future. Who knows? Maybe it would start here. Tonight.”

 

In a word: Read the thing. This was sweet and heartwarming and a quick read. All good things. Derek, the titular main character, is newly divorced and is a bit nervous about finally being able to live his life as a gay man for the first time in years (though, the first time he was ‘out’ it wasn’t really so openly). One of the baristas at his new favourite café befriends him suddenly and invites him to a party where he can meet other gay men. He meets Marshall at the party, and through him learns about letting go and being in love for real for the first time. This story is about a romance, but it’s also about letting go and moving forward. Derek has had his only two relationships fail, and isn’t sure if he should gamble his heart on a third. With Marshall’s help he’s able to gain some perspective on his past and look forward to what his future as an out gay man will hold for him. The story isn’t all that long so the characters aren’t totally developed (especially the many side-characters that are mentioned), but I still liked Derek and Marshall and their love story (even though it does technically tip into the insta-love category). I also really enjoyed the positive feel everything had. Derek is trying to deal with the death of a long-term relationship and what that means for him in the grand scheme of things; and even though it wasn’t necessarily a totally happy experience, Derek’s takeaway of it isn’t totally negative either. The message of the story, about not living in the past and looking forward to the future (loosely paraphrased), was also pretty positive.

 

The Summary: (from Goodreads) The end of his marriage leaves Derek Newton hurt and confused, but it also grants him the opportunity to embrace who he really is: a gay man. While navigating his new life with the help of friends in the local GLBT community, Derek meets Marshall Kenworthy, a man who embodies all his fantasies.

To Derek’s surprise, Marshall is as interested as he is, and they make a date. But a failure to communicate leads to a misunderstanding. The party they attend is not what Derek expected—at all—but Marshall, ever the gentleman, makes sure Derek feels comfortable. As they get to know each other, they see how much they have in common. Derek begins to heal and soon realizes he might thrive in this new chapter of his life—and it just might be with Marshall by his side.

 

[available for free at Dreamspinner Press, Amazon.ca, Chapters, and Barnes & Noble]

 

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