Rating: 2 stars
Buy Link: Amazon | All Romance
I truly do not know how to write the review of this novel, Family Connections by N.J. Nielsen. This book, which began as a believable out for you trope, turned into such a fantastically confusing and rambling story. Initially, everything revolved around Ray Connelly, an independently wealthy musician who meets and falls for a slightly homophobic nightclub owner, Chris Vivvens, or Viv as he is called by his family and friends. Each of these men has raised a family member from a young age. For Ray it is his sister’s daughter, Sara, whom they call Girly. For Viv, his stepbrother Daniel. As soon as these four meet, the story begins this strange trajectory. Apparently Ray’s grandmother wants him to have a boyfriend, and Viv, while definitely presenting as straight, volunteers. While I could understand where this could have been an interesting plot point or twist, the speed with which Viv falls completely into his role was stunning. Within a short span of time, Viv is comfortably making out with Ray, kissing, touching, and holding, all seemingly without much discomfort. The attraction grows, but Viv continues to fight his feelings until his ex-girlfriend and I must say, psycho, turns up.
Now here was the second huge warning sign for me that this story has veered off path. Grace, Viv’s ex, is apparently crazily pursuing getting him back—in fact, he has had an on again/off again affair with her for years. But Viv is not the only one she has seduced. His brother Daniel was caught up in her insanity as well. Daniel is bisexual and also dated Grace who then drugged him, had a male friend join them for a three way who raped Daniel, and, to top it all off, she videotaped it and put it out on mass media. Because Daniel just wanted to erase the entire memory, Grace was never prosecuted for what she did. Ok, so far, I got it. But when Viv begins to confess to Ray that he is inexorably drawn to a woman who did such a heinous thing to his brother? I felt that this plot twist really pushed the envelope of believability.
As the story progressed, long passages were devoted to “working through” ideas. Over and over we read the same thoughts that Viv had concerning Ray. For pages, I felt the exact same internal dialogue play out. I began to feel that this story, which was a rambling 300 plus page novel, was in serious need of an editor who could have cut out the repeated passages. Just when I thought the story could not get more bizarre, Ray and Viv became real lovers and started to have children dropped in their lap willy-nilly. You see, Ray had raised Girly and wanted more children. His best friend and ex-girlfriend Beth (a relationship he had while trying to establish he was gay) wanted children but her husband was unable to impregnate her. So, Ray and Beth struck up a deal that Ray’s sperm would be used and the first baby would go to him. Then, after that, the next one would go to Beth. Say what? Then Beth discovered she was carrying twins and automatically both would go to Ray and Viv. Okay I could buy this, sort of. Until she went into labor at a party and Ray stuck his head up her skirt, I guess because he was intent on delivering the babies until the paramedics arrived. Then within seconds both infants were born, and handed all around to coo over and Beth merely was noted as having “worked up a sweat.”
I was just confounded. Add to that, the accident that brought Viv’s mother on the scene and whose death left him with two, wait, three, no, scratch that four siblings, most of whom were under the age of three and you had quite the amazing instant family. My head was spinning and I must be frank, if this had not been a novel I was to review I would have abandoned ship and left it unfinished.
I could go on and on with the discrepancies, the utterly unbelievable quick fixes, and outlandish plot twists that showed up in this story. Family Connections began as an interesting out for you trope and turned into a sprawling mess of a novel that left me frustrated. I really feel this one would have benefited from better editing and a streamlined plot.