Rating: 5 stars
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Vince Fierro is fixing the disposal in the house of a gay couple when suddenly it hits him… maybe he is gay. After three failed marriages Vince can admit to himself that something isn’t working. And though he has stifled even the idea of being gay until now, watching the men so obviously in love is enough to motivate him to at least to some serious self-reflection. On the advice of his sister, Vince decides to try visiting a gay club just to see how it feels. As it turns out, he hates it, but Vince is saved by the appearance of family friend Trey Giles who convinces Vince to ditch the bar and head with him to a jazz club instead.
Trey is working two jobs while going to college. As the primary breadwinner in his family of an elderly grandmother and a drunken mother, Trey had to grow up fast and be responsible for his family since his teen years. Trey has decided to wait on sex until he finds someone he really cares about, something that is difficult to do when most men he meets just want to hook up immediately. Even after spending a romantic night dancing with Vince in the jazz club, Trey knows getting involved with a man who is still determinedly in the closet isn’t a great idea. But Vince wants to take things slow just like Trey, and so it ends up being a perfect match.
Trey continues to face family problems as his mother once again turns into a drunken mess. After years of dealing with her broken promises and half-hearted attempts to get clean, not to mention the increasing burden of supporting the family, Trey is pretty much tired of dealing with her and leans on Vince for support. Slowly Vince begins to accept that being with men is actually what he has wanted all along. And being with Trey turns out to be just what he needs. But Vince worries what his big Italian family will think when he reveals he is gay, terrified that they will abandon him at the news. He loves them all despite their meddling and can’t imagine losing that close bond with all his local clan. But when things take a bad turn and Trey really needs Vince, Vince finally turn to his family and hopes they can provide support for both of them.
So let me tell you how excited I was to see another collaboration by two of my favorite authors, Marie Sexton and Heidi Cullinan. And I am so thrilled to tell you that Family Man did not disappoint me. It was such a beautifully written, sweetly romantic story that is also poignant, touching, and sexy.
Ok, those of you who read my reviews a lot know that I am a big fan of the sexy stuff. So you probably would be as surprised as I am that my favorite part of the book was the sweet and slow build to Vince and Trey’s physical relationship. They are the perfect match for one another — Vince who is slowly opening himself up to the idea of being with a man, and Trey who needs to be with someone who respects his limits and will be patient with him sexually. The authors manage to create such steamy anticipation and such an intense physical and emotional connection between these guys before they even begin to explore things sexually. It is amazing how hot they are even as they are just making out on the couch. It is so well done that I didn’t even miss the hot and heavy, especially as things steam up the further along we get in the story.
I also really appreciated how the story handles Vince’s coming out process. Although Vince is definitely freaked out as he first contemplates he might be gay, he handles the situation with a lot of grace and self-reflection. Once he decides to explore his sexuality, he moves steadily forward despite his fears. And although he and Trey take things slow sexually, Vince doesn’t try to hide Trey or how he feels about him. He holds Trey’s hand and takes him on dates and does internet research that both turns him on and freaks him out. But through it all he stands by Trey and is determined to be a good man and a good boyfriend and just follows that road wherever it takes him.
I also loved Vince’s family, and the fact that they are so important in his life. They are a huge family and super close, most of them living in the area and working for the family restaurants. Even though Vince is constantly badgered about when he is getting married, it is always clear how much they love him and how important they are in his life. What could have delved into stereotype instead ends up being a loving family that sticks together and will do anything for the people they care about. And this is exactly how Vince himself is. He is committed to Trey and to being there for him. He is protective and nurturing, and also knows when to sit back and provide quiet support.
And of course we see the Fierros in direct contrast to Trey’s family. His mother has been letting him down since he was a child, and Trey has learned to just take it all and do the best he can. He has been forced to take on way more than a young man should and never complains. But it is clear that the burden is taking an emotional toll. He hides it all inside, but the anger and resentment are getting closer and closer to the surface. And it is really Vince’s love and support that help him get through the more difficult times. The authors do a nice job here of showing the contrast between the families and how it has shaped both of these men.
So really I don’t have much negative to say here. My only small issue was the POV changes. Vince’s POV is in third person and Trey’s is in first.When the book started, this switch was a little jarring for me. However, as the story continued it was much less noticeable, especially because the POV stays consistent through each chapter. And in some ways it was helpful, in that it immediately identified to me whose head we are in, something that can be a problem with two male MCs. So some folks might find this more of a bother than I did, but most of the time it worked out just fine.
I hope that I am doing this book justice in my review. It really was so beautifully done and I truly loved it. Warm and romantic and touching and sexy. I loved both Trey and Vince and they are both just so good that I couldn’t help but want the best for them. Excellent story and one that I highly recommend.