Family Man by Heidi Cullinan & Marie Sexton

I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review.
This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Family Man: by Heidi Cullinan & Marie Sexton
Release Date: September 11th, 2017
Pages: 206 • Format:eARC
Published By: Dreamspinner Press
Purchase Links:
Dreamspinner

Sometimes family chooses you.

At forty, Vincent “Vinnie” Fierro is still afraid to admit he might be gay—even to himself. It’ll be a problem for his big, fat Italian family. Still, after three failed marriages, it’s getting harder to ignore what he really wants.

Vinnie attempts some self-exploration in 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, Trey agrees to let Vinnie court him and see if he truly belongs on this side of the fence—though Trey intends to keep his virginity intact.

It seems like a solid plan, but nothing is simple when family is involved. When Vinnie’s family finds out about their relationship, the situation is sticky enough, but when Trey’s mother goes critical, Vinnie and Trey must decide whose happiness is most important—their families’ or their own.

four-stars

 

This was my first read of this book, and I”m shocked that I haven’t read it before. I really enjoyed this story. I love the setting, the family, the people in it, and Trey & Vince. This was realistically done! Love the big families, and how the family trope was done so well. Cullinan and Sexton need to write more books together if this is what came out!

Vince is 40 years old, and now accepting that he’s gay. Not only has he been married 3 times to women, but his greatest fear is being without his big Italian Family. With only his sister being his support system he ventures out into the world to see what being gay can offer him. Trey is gay, but school and his family is what is most important to him right now. He can’t think about being in a relationship while dealing with his mom’s alcoholism, being the breadwinner in his family, and oh yeah he’s a virgin. Not because he is a prude or something. He just wants it to mean something. Trey & Vinnie know each other, living in the same neighborhood, and being Italian of course they know one another.

Loved how patient Trey was with Vinnie. They both have personal things going on within themselves that they try letting it stay in the background to see where this No-Sex rule goes between the both of them. Vinnie is hard case to crack sometimes, but he’s interested in Trey. He’s a gentleman, and shows a side of dating to Trey that Trey hasn’t seen before. Trey can offer Vinnie things and views on being Gay. What it means to fall for the same sex. This was a learning experience for both guys. It was extremely sweet at times, and other times extremely vulnerable.

I laughed, had some tears, but overall I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I’m so happy I decided to read this. I wish it was a follow-up seeing as its a second edition being published and its had years being out. I would have liked to a “Where are they now?”, moment from the authors. No matter, because I’m happy and I definitely recommend this.

 

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About Heidi Cullinan

Heidi grew up in love with story. She fell asleep listening to Disney long-playing records and read her Little House On The Prairie books until they fell apart. She ran through the woods inventing stories of witches and fairies and enchanted trees and spent hours beneath the lilac bush imagining the lives of the settlers who had inhabited the homestead log cabin and two-story late 1800s home on her family farm. She created epic storylines for her Barbies until it wasn’t satisfying enough to do so any longer (age ten), and then she started writing them down. Her first novel, The Life and Times of Michelle Matthews, was published when she was twelve in the school anthology and took up nearly half of it.

Though Heidi continued to write novels through high school (and still has the Rubbermaid tub full in her bedroom), she stopped in college, deciding it was time to grow up and do something meaningful with her life. When the specifics of that didn’t pan out, Heidi ended up in grad school to become a teacher, and through one of the courses rediscovered her love of romance novels. She began to write again on the side, continued to do so while she taught seventh grade language arts and reading, and when she quit teaching to have her daughter, she took up writing with more seriousness, both as a stress relief and as a potential means of bringing in money.

Many million pages later, Heidi has learned a lot about writing, more than she ever wanted to know about publishing, and most importantly, finally figured out that writing IS the meaningful something she wants to do with her life. A passionate advocate for LGBT rights, Heidi volunteered for One Iowa during the fight for marriage equality and donates with her husband as a monthly partner to the Human Rights Campaign and Lambda Legal. She encourages you to support your own local and national LGBT rights groups, too

Heidi enjoys reading, watching movies and TV with her family, and listening all kinds of music. She has a husband, a daughter, and too many cats. Heidi is an active social networker, and of course has good old-fashioned email.

About Marie Sexton

Marie Sexton lives in Colorado. She’s a fan of just about anything that involves muscular young men piling on top of each other. In particular, she loves the Denver Broncos and enjoys going to the games with her husband. Her imaginary friends often tag along. Marie has one daughter, two cats, and one dog, all of whom seem bent on destroying what remains of her sanity. She loves them anyway.

Starting From Scratch by Jay Northcote

I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review.
This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Starting From Scratch: by Jay Northcote
Series: Housemates #5
Release Date: April 12th, 2017
Pages: 294 • Format: eARC
Published By: JayBird Press
Purchase Links:
Amazon USAmazon UK

Starting over isn’t easy, but Ben is ready to live his life as the man he was always meant to be.

Ben is transgender and back at university after hormone treatment and chest surgery. His new housemates have no idea about his history and Ben would prefer to keep it that way. He’s starting from scratch and his life is finally on track, except in the romance department. The idea of dating guys as a guy is exhilarating but terrifying, because if Ben wants a boyfriend he’ll have to disclose his secret.

Sid is drawn to Ben from the moment they meet. He normally gets what he wants—in the short term at least. Ben’s guarded at first, and Sid’s not used to guys rejecting his advances. He eventually charms his way through Ben’s defences and helps Ben on his journey of sexual awakening.

It doesn’t matter to Sid that Ben is trans. He’s attracted to the whole person, and isn’t worried about what is—or isn’t—in Ben’s pants. They’re good together, and both of them are falling hard and fast, but Ben’s insecurities keep getting in the way. If Sid can convince Ben he’s committed, will Ben finally be able to put his heart on the line?

Although this book is part of the Housemates series, it has new main characters, a satisfying happy ending, and can be read as a standalone.

four-stars

 

Thank you Jay Northcote. Ben’s story was done really well, and you couldn’t have picked a better mate then Sid. I liked this friends to lovers story. It was very sweet, and endearing. Ben definitely came out of his shell in this book. I truly like how he evolved as a character. He tried so hard to be open to social hangouts, and I thought it was super cute his relationship with his mom.

I learned a lot of information in this book. So many things I didn’t know, and it was very real to read about. I like how informed Ben was in his choices and life. I enjoyed Sid having his doubts, but researching to figure out what to say and do. This actually was growth for both of them. They each changed for the better.

The pace of the story was perfect. Ben is Transgendered, and he is lonely. He wants to be with someone but those fears and doubts create a stopping point each time. Sid is Jude’s ex, but going through his own things, and he’s attracted to Ben at first hang out. I liked the whole talking and courting aspect. This was a developed romance. It had its flaws, and relationship problems, but that’s why its super realistic.

Not to heavy on the angst for me. I think we seem them become to connected to one another. Both experience this relationship for a first time. Both have reactions that are real to the situation. I am loving this series as it gets more along in fact. I really enjoyed this story. Ummm but Jay, you have to write Johnny’s next. No way can we see LACE and not get his story!! Please. I might go back and re-read Dev & Ewan’s because it just popped in my head as I type. LOL. This is a definite recommend folks! Get it and read it!

 

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About Jay Northcote

Jay lives just outside Bristol in the West of England, with his husband, two children, and two cats. He comes from a family of writers, but he always used to believe that the gene for fiction writing had passed her by. He spent years only ever writing emails, articles, or website content.

One day, he decided to try and write a short story—just to see if she could—and found it rather addictive. He hasn’t stopped writing since.

Jay writes contemporary gay romance about men who fall in love with other men, usually set in or near her home town of Bristol. He enjoys the challenge of bringing the men in his head to life through his words. Jay has five books published by Dreamspinner Press, and he also publishes his own titles under the imprint Jaybird Press. Some of his books are now available as audiobooks.

Jay is a transgender man and was formerly known as she/her.

Out of Nowhere (In the Middle of Somewhere #2) by Roan Parrish

I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review.
This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

OutOfNowhereLGOut of Nowhere by Roan Parrish
Series: In the Middle of Somewhere
Release Date: February 24, 2016
Pages: 274 • Format: eARC
Published By:  Dreamspinner Press
Purchase Links:
DreamspinnerAmazonARe

The only thing in Colin Mulligan’s life that makes sense is taking cars apart and putting them back together. In the auto shop where he works with his father and brothers, he tries to get through the day without having a panic attack or flying into a rage. Drinking helps. So do running and lifting weights until he can hardly stand. But none of it can change the fact that he’s gay, a secret he has kept from everyone.

Rafael Guerrera has found ways to live with the past he’s ashamed of. He’s dedicated his life to social justice work and to helping youth who, like him, had very little growing up. He has no time for love. Hell, he barely has time for himself. Somehow, everything about miserable, self-destructive Colin cries out to him. But down that path lie the troubles Rafe has worked so hard to leave behind. And as their relationship intensifies, Rafe and Colin are forced to dredge up secrets that both men would prefer stay buried.

four-half-stars

“You,” he says, “are lying to yourself if you think you’re living in the world. You’re barely making it through. You know what you want but you’re too scared to go after it. You think being gay is what makes you weak?” He shakes his head, and there’s no pity in his face. “Living a lie when you don’t have to. Acting like you’re the only one affected by your decisions. Those are the things that make you weak. It’s just fear.”

Brace yourself, this book was so amazing. Roan Parrish is definitely a force to be reckoned with. Her words and her emotions are so visceral. I damn it felt gutted by the end of reading this book. I didn’t think after book one that I could have those emotions, but this book was 10 times worst on my heart. I love her writing so much. It’s so gritty, authentic and just reads beautifully. I get so much of what she was dictated that I read this in one sitting, and decided to read it again the next day just to make sure I wasn’t dreaming. She did write Colin’s story to real and it left my emotions eviscerated. Let’s be clear, I didn’t think no matter what Colin’s reasons were that I would be okay for his treatment of his brother. I’m so big on family, and as the oldest sibling, I couldn’t see myself treating either of my sisters like that. Colin had so much self hatred going on in his life it was look walking through fog when he decided to live his truth. Jeez, Roan writes the love interest so well. Rafe is another amazing character trying to work out his second chance life. I live for stories like this because it’s easily relate able to know someone like Colin & Rafe. They can be your brothers, friends, co-workers, spouses. It’s so easy for people to judge and spew their hate that they don’t have a clue what it’s like to put themselves out there.

That vulnerable look that says, This is how you hurt me. Go ahead, it’s easy. And I want to punish him for being so weak. So easy to hurt. For being such easy prey that he turns me into a predator by default.

The imperfection of Colin & Rafe makes this book so great. Rafe is trying to turn his life around. He’s trying for his sobriety, his livelihood, and his relationship to Colin. Colin is such a ball of contridiction. When he’s first introduced in book one, he was just mean. I didn’t like him at all. I never thought that I’d be rooting for him by the end. Him as a person was so broken, devastated and destroyed. He yearn to live up to this character of being the perfect son. I don’t actually think he realized that his father wasn’t looking for that. Reading this was heartbreaking because Colin was trying to be the best possible him, but constantly living in fear, and all this hate about himself. The first initial meeting of Rafe & Colin was Colin being a douche. Colin hating Daniel for living in his truth, for Daniel just doing what he wanted without the ramifications that Colin assumed there would be. It’s hard too say what I want without spoiling it, but I hated his father. Okay that’s not fair, but I hated how his children felt like they needed to be in order to be loved. I noticed the same thing with Daniel, Colin was so use to being by himself outside his family. I don’t think he knew how to love, or why people fall in love. I loved the patient side of Rafe. I loved everything about Rafe. His social justice ideals, and give back to the community. I loved the center with the kids. This book taught about the prison system and decarceration. I never really thought of that before, but she definitely opened my eyes on the subject. I could go on and on with how much I love this, but I feel like when you finish this book you’ll be in love the same way I am. Thank you Roan for giving me these characters.

I think sometimes the people we get angriest with are the ones who have the things we want the most.”

About Roan Parrish

ROAN PARRISH is currently wandering between Philadelphia and New Orleans. When not writing, she can usually be found cutting her friends’ hair, meandering through whatever city she’s in while listening to torch songs and melodic death metal, or cooking overly elaborate meals. She loves bonfires, winter beaches, minor chord harmonies, and self-tattooing. One time she may or may not have baked a six-layer chocolate cake and then thrown it out the window in a fit of pique.