acceptable behaviorRating: 2 stars
Buy Link:
Amazon | All Romance | Amazon UK
Length: Novel

When pediatrician Travis Nelson sees young Levi for an ear infection, he finds himself drawn to the young boy’s father. Or who he thinks is his father. Turns out that Sam Madison is Levi’s uncle, and he’s helping to care for Levi while the boy’s mother struggles. Travis wants nothing more than to date Sam, and be there to care for him. But Sam attempts to resist and Travis has to work at breaking down Sam’s walls.

Sam has given up everything to be there for his twin sister, Melanie, and her son. She’s constantly strung out and high, and Sam is barely keeping things together. The last thing he needs is a relationship of any sort. But he’s drawn to Travis as well. The two men connect quickly, and begin a relationship, and when Melanie causes the car to wreck, Sam and Levi move into Travis’s place. Being together all the time helps their relationship grow and the two men not only fall in love, but freely admit it.

But Melanie doesn’t do well on her own and her drug use comes to a terrifying head. It puts a serious strain on Travis and Sam’s relationship. But just as they seem to be working things out, and Melanie starts to make a real effort, life throws them a curve ball. The family they are creating is threatened and Sam and Travis have to rely on their bond and the support of their family, if they hope to make it out intact.

So. Okay. There is very little about this book that recommends itself, and I found myself struggling very hard to get through it. There were times I was ready to put it down and walk away completely, and the only reason I didn’t was because it was a review book. In the end, there wasn’t much to redeem it. And I’ll do my best to tell you why I found it unappealing.

The first, and most glaring, problem I encountered was the characters. While there were moments of real emotion from them, for the most part, Travis and Sam felt like one dimensional caricatures. They had no depth. They were flat and unengaging. I didn’t feel a connection to them at all, and I certainly didn’t feel the connection between them. I felt like I was reading a recounting of actions, not as if I was in there in the moment with them. These guys were inconsistent and contrary, and their reactions were not believable for who they were supposed to be. Well, who the author was telling us they were supposed to be. Because for the most part, we weren’t shown their feelings, actions, and emotions.

Travis was supposed to be a big hearted, kind doctor. And we saw that sometimes. So when he flew off the handle, or got demanding, it seemed at odds with the character. There were times when I didn’t like him at all. Sam was supposed to be dedicated to his twin and his nephew, but he’d be vehemently arguing for Melanie with Travis, and two sentences later, be laughing it off and agreeing with Travis. If I had to pick, I would say I liked Sam more, but it wasn’t by much. There was no segue between these guys’ actions and thoughts, and so most of the time it felt abrupt. Or seemed to come absolutely from nowhere without any explanation, which left me scratching my head and wondering.

And it wasn’t just the MCs that had this problem. Melanie was truly a caricature, her actions seeming over the top, and then her turnaround at the end came out of nowhere. There was no lead up to her epiphany and her wanting to get better. She didn’t even really explain why she chose to go to rehab, and barely made reference to the work she was doing in counseling. If I was to believe the over the top villainous behavior of most of the book, then I really could not believe her abrupt about face. The only characters that felt real were, surprisingly, Levi who was delightful at times and never over done (as children can be in romances) and Travis’s parents, who we didn’t see enough of.

Add to that a plot that was just one thing after another, and I was finding myself speed reading just to get through. That’s not how I like to read my books. While there were plot moments that could have been really good, I felt most of it was underdeveloped and we just jumped from one thing to the next. This story went on a long time, and it felt longer than it actually was. I could see where the author was going with it, and trying to give the reader a story that extended the course of a whole relationship. But with the lack of believability in the characters, each hurdle felt like just another thing that was happening to these guys, and I wasn’t emotionally invested in the outcome. For me, there was too much going on in this book, and if parts of it had been cut and the story pared down, it would have been a better read. Ultimately, when the next obstacle and conflict occurred, I couldn’t help but thinking that of course something else over the top would happen. Because I could bring myself to care about the characters, I couldn’t care about the things they were facing.

I won’t even discuss the ludicrous and utterly ridiculous language these guys sported when they got to the sex. Let’s just say that it didn’t work at all for me, and leave it at that, okay?

And sadly, that’s how I can sum up this book. It didn’t work for me. An overly packed and contrived plot line, coupled with characters that were by turns flat and over the top, and I was unimpressed with the story within. I can’t recommend it, and I won’t be checking out the rest of the series.

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