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Family Man by Heidi Cullinan and Marie Sexton

Family Man CullinanFamily Man by Heidi Cullinan and Marie Sexton
Reviewer:  Tj
Publisher:  Samhain Publishing
Novel:  67,154 Words
Purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble
Roses:  3
 

Sometimes family chooses you.

How does a man get to be forty without knowing whether he’s gay? That’s a question Vince Fierro is almost afraid to answer. If he is gay, it’ll be a problem for his big, fat Italian family. Still, after three failed marriages, he can’t help but wonder if he’s been playing for the wrong team.

There’s only one way to settle it, once and for all—head for Chicago’s Boystown bars, far from anyone who knows him. Naturally, he runs smack into someone from the neighborhood.

Between working two jobs, going to school, taking care of his grandmother, and dealing with his mother’s ongoing substance abuse, Trey Giles has little time for fun, let alone dating someone who swears he’s straight. Yet after one night of dancing cheek-to-cheek to the sultry strains of Coltrane, Trey finds himself wanting to help Vinnie figure things out—no promises, and no sex.

It seems like a simple plan, until their “no-sex” night turns into the best date of their lives and forges a connection that complicates everything.

Warning: This book deals with alcoholism, broken promises, and overbearing little sisters.

Excerpt

This is a sweet story, not a lot of sex.  There was a huge buildup to it.  I thought the idea of this book sounded good and the writers always write good stories.  I was a bit disappointed by this one though.  The writing was excellent and the character development was good.  I had a little bit of a hard time with Vince’s change in the story.  It seemed out of nowhere and so complete as to be unreal.  A few more crises with it would have made more sense.  Also it seemed that everything seemed to magically fix itself when something happened.  In overall it just didn’t seem very realistic for a contemporary story line.

Now if it is just the story itself and you can get past the believability factor it is very enjoyable.  The characters are warm and sweet.  The relationship is tender and builds at a fairly good pace.  I did enjoy that part if I just immersed myself in the story itself.

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Fear, Hope, and Bread Pudding by Marie Sexton

Fear Hope and Bread Pudding SextonFear, Hope, and Bread Pudding by Marie Sexton
Reviewer:  Tj
Publisher:  Dreamspinner Press
Novella:  40,539 Words
Purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble
Roses:  5
 

The long-awaited sequel to Strawberries for Dessert.

Families should grow, not shrink. It’s been on Jon Kechter’s mind since before he tied the knot with his millionaire lover, Cole Fenton. Now hoping to adopt, Jon and Cole search for a mother-to-be willing to let them love her baby, but the interminable wait is wearing on them both.

Jon is close to his father, George, but until Cole, he didn’t have anyone else. Now George is pushing Cole to reconcile with his estranged mother. When the three of them spend Christmas with her in Munich, the results are disastrous. Jon and Cole resolve to stay positive, but no hope exists without a tinge of fear. Jon and Cole can’t help but wonder if their dream of being parents just wasn’t meant to be.

Excerpt

Marie Sexton is a very good author.  The writing is superb.  The characters come alive and her plot lines are always interesting.  Cole may seem a flighty character but so loving and Jon is a rock if a bit of a worrier.  These two in the first of the series “Strawberries for Dessert” had a relationship that struggled and finally came together.  Now Cole wants to fill his final hole in his heart by adopting.  Jon supports him but doesn’t have the drive of Cole for parenthood, or at least he claims not to have.

 

The story progresses along in a way that builds up and up.  The story doesn’t just contain just the two’s struggle to adopt but the struggle to adopt.  Jon’s father gets in on the act in trying to bring Cole and his mother together, to mend that family relationship before the next generation comes up.  Cole and Jon struggle with finding their family’s new future and what it will look like.

 

These two men make such a sweet couple and to watch them struggle and pine was hard.  The author shows how difficult adoption is especially for a gay couple.  The trials and heartaches that any couple must go through are just compounded by being a gay couple going through the process.  This is what so works in a Marie Sexton book you feel for the people in the story.

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Second Hand by Heidi Cullinan and Marie Sexton

Second Hand SextonSecond Hand by Heidi Cullinan and Marie Sexton
Reviewer:  Tj
Publisher:  Riptide Publishing
Novel:  49,200 Words
Purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Nobel
Roses:  3
 

Paul Hannon moved to Tucker Springs for his girlfriend, but she’s left him with a house he can’t afford and a pantry full of useless gadgets. All Paul wants is to get back to normal, even if he’s not sure what that is anymore. When he wanders into Tucker Pawn for a gift to win her back, he meets El Rozal, pawn shop owner and all-around cynic.

El Rozal doesn’t do relationships, especially not with clueless straight boys still pining for their ex. El may make his living dealing in castoffs, but that doesn’t apply to men. Still, when Paul starts clearing out his old life, pawning kitchen equipment he never wanted in the first place, El is drawn to Paul in spite of himself.

Paul and El have nothing in common except a past full of disappointments. There’s no reason to believe the two of them could fit, but in El’s line of work, one man’s junk is another man’s treasure. When it comes to love, El and Paul may learn that secondhand doesn’t mean second best.

Excerpt

Poor clueless Paul.  He seems so sweet.  I had read about El before in “Dirty Laundry” and he appears to be the perfect foil for sweet Paul.  El is given much more depth in this book compared to that.  El is also clueless in that he doesn’t seem to believe that he needs someone.  Paul knows but can’t figure out how to get someone.  Perfect!

 

I’ve always enjoyed these two authors.  Individually they are good writers and together they mess well.  The story has a solid plot line and good build.  Now the overall crisis you could see coming a mile away but that didn’t ruin what was a very “pretty” love story.  The characters were well drawn.  I really loved the two of them and very easily connected to them.

 

There was one niggle for me though and it’s that there was no real “drama” to me.  It’s just a sweet story.  I expected a little more with these two authors and didn’t get it so it was a bit of a letdown.  If you’ve read these two women’s books before it has a little bit of a different feel to it.  If this was an unknown author to me it may not have been as big a letdown.  Still it was a…okay story, nothing huge and not terrible.  One of those stories that are just like a warm read for a rainy, cold day.

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