Jamus Cork’s life was turned upside down when a wrong way driver left him in the hospital and his parents dead. Left to care for his three-year old brother, Nick, Jamus went from carefree graduate student and want-to-be writer living in New York City, to being the guardian of his brother, working at a bookstore, and staying up late nights in their dilapidated brownstone in South End of Boston. As the years wear on, the guilt Jamus feels over that night has prevented him from finding his own happiness – except for a stolen moment or two when Nick is staying over a friend’s house. As Nick enters high school, their relationship begins to sour as Nick becomes aware of what exactly Jamus being “gay” really means. When Nick’s classmates begin to tease Nick about Jamus’ sexuality, Nick begins to read Jamus’ books and begins questioning Jamus’ role in their parent’s deaths.
Sean Malloy has spent the last six years earning all sorts of degrees that kept him far away from his home in South Boston. Now it is time to start paying those student loans. Heading back to work at a prestigious boarding school, Sean begins to feel the cage around him closing in as everyone starts pushing him and neighborhood girl, Grace, together. Thankfully, Sean has his newly discharged Marine brother, Kevin, to help him navigate his way through being home. As Sean begins to settle in, he finds himself intrigued by Jamus Cork – a writer and the guardian of one of his students who happens to be 100% gay. That doesn’t stop Sean from wanting to spend time with him – but is he ready to explore this new side of himself? Coming from a strong Irish-Catholic household, Sean risks losing everything.
As Jamus and Sean struggle with their families, they find themselves drawn to one another. Only Jamus isn’t going to hide who he is and Sean isn’t ready to even explore who he is.
This book is not a romance. You aren’t going to find hot sex scenes. Instead, this book is really two different family sagas that happen to entwine themselves near the latter part of the book as one man struggles with his sexuality, while the other finds himself ready to begin to let go of his guilt and find himself happiness.
The first family is Jamus and Nick. Jamus has given everything up for his brother – maybe a lot of it was out of survivor’s guilt, but regardless, he stepped up at a very young age to raise a toddler. While most other twenty-three year olds are worrying about which nightclub to hang out at, Jamus was changing diapers and worrying over putting food on the table and a roof over their heads. All while struggling to write…and he managed to succeed. In fact, he has six published novels to his credit.
When Nick begins to attend a prestigious boarding school as a day student, he struggles to fit in. Fortunately, with the help of his best friend, he isn’t alone in his struggle. Then his classmates find out that his gay brother writes gay fiction and the troubles start at school. Wondering what exactly his brother writes, Nick buys one of his books to find out that they seem to mirror Jamus’ life and that maybe Jamus is to blame for Nick not having parents.
This relationship between these two brothers is heartwarming. Despite Jamus being the parental figure in Nick’s life, he strives to just be the big brother – even if it is only in name. Nick, on the other hand, is a typical teenager who is constantly trying to push any authority figure away, but at the same time he is struggling with the fact that he still needs his brother.
The second family is the Malloy family – a good Irish Catholic family who goes to church every Sunday. When Sean returns home, his mother and the local priest start pushing him to marry Grace. As Sean tries to avoid it, his sisters and brother begin pushing right along with everyone else. Then Sean meets Jamus after services and their attraction to one another captures the attention of several people…but Sean isn’t gay, is he?
As Sean manages to push Grace off by pretending he is busy with creating lessons for his students, he finds himself intrigued by Jamus, who happens to be the brother of one of his students and a writer. Using these as excuses, he finds himself hanging out in a gay bar with Jamus. Despite being a large city, nothing in the Irish- Catholic part of Boston remains a secret for long. When people begin questioning Sean’s relationship with this gay man, Sean may lose everything.
I loved Sean’s relationship with his brother, Kevin. Kevin was recently discharged from the Marines and is dealing with his own issues after having spent two tours overseas in a warzone. While the two had been close when they were teenagers, as adults they find themselves struggling to reconnect.
As for the rest of Sean’s family – they were the epitome of an Irish Catholic family. It is no wonder why Sean is struggling so hard with his sexuality when you can imagine growing up with everyone in the household, neighborhood, and Church expecting certain things.
My only complaint about this book were that Sean is supposed to have an undergraduate, a masters, and a doctorate in education and managed to complete all of this in a measly 5 years, considering that the last time he was home with his brother was when he was a senior in high school six years ago.The timeline wasn’t matching up.
Overall, I absolutely adored this book. Despite the lack of real romance (and sex scenes), I found myself thoroughly engaged in this story. If you are looking for a piece of gay literature, you’ve got to check this one out! Highly recommend.