Archie Noblesse had a difficult childhood. Raised by a teenage mother who had addiction problems, Archie was forced at a young age to protect his sister from the poverty, heartache, and abuse they faced on the reservation. Unable to cope any longer, Archie escaped as soon as he could, regretting leaving his sister behind and doing everything he could to ensure that she had the funds to escape the life herself. As an outspoken blogger and controversial author, Archie’s made a name for himself by arguing against gay marriage and parenthood – claiming these are hetero-normalizing the gay lifestyle. Instead, he preaches that gays should balk against these institutions and live for themselves. Then his sister dies and Archie finds himself guardian of his niece and nephew.
Ryan Eriksson is an elementary school teacher who has only been in four relationships. Mr. White Picket Fence dreams of getting married and raising a family of his own…and he was so close before his fiancé asked for a break several months ago. When his best friend, Marguerite, is killed in an automobile accident, Ryan steps in to help her brother adjust to his new responsibilities caring for her two young children. Though Archer offers him custody, Ryan knows he has to respect Margie’s wishes and convince Archer to give parenting a chance.
To buy time, Ryan promises to stay for the summer, hoping Archer will change his mind. But Archer is reluctant and continues to pawn the children off on Ryan in favor of continuing to live for only himself. When Ryan throws down the hammer and threatens to walk away, Archer is forced to change his ways. With time running out, will Ryan be able to walk away come September, or will he leave a part of his heart with the children and Archer?
Archer is the most despicable character I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading! Archer is a total man-whore who enjoys picking men up off of Grindr. When his sister dies, he desperately wants to pawn them off on Ryan so as to not disrupt his lifestyle. For nearly ½ the book, readers will wonder whether anyone so awful could possibly be rehabilitated, and then wonder whether he should be rehabilitated. What does he know about raising children? Yet, Archer goes through a complete 360 degree rehab and comes out a very changed man.
Ryan represents everything Archer has avoided all his life. A bit on the feminine side, Ryan is looking for someone bearing a ring and a happily ever after complete with a family. Formerly engaged to be married and adopt a child, Ryan is still nursing a broken heart. When his best friend dies, he is more than willing to step in and hold the fragile family together – even if it breaks his heart in the end.
These characters do not jump right into a romance with one another. In fact, the first half of the book Archer is still meeting up with guys on Grindr. Meanwhile, Ryan’s ex shows up and wants a second chance. What readers do get a story where Archer learns what love really is, and how hard he has to work for it.
I will warn readers that you may want to grab some tissues because this one will pull at your heartstrings. While ordinarily I am not a fan of children playing a major role in my romance reads, these two kids broke my heart. Losing one parent is bad enough, but losing a second parent so soon after must have been devastating for them. As if that wasn’t enough, they find themselves saddled with a guardian who doesn’t want them. Yet, little by little these two characters worm their way into the hearts of readers and Archer.
As a reader, I really appreciated the author tackling the problems that plague First Nations/Native American communities. Archer is a product of this environment. Abandoned both physically and emotionally by an addicted mother, he’s never experienced love or affection. Yet, as he is forced to spend the next few months with his niece, nephew, and Ryan, Archer begins to learn that it is never too late to open his heart.
My one complaint was that once Archer decided to give being a guardian a chance, the sexual tension between the two was a bit drawn out as they went back and forth about whether or not to get together.
Overall, this was a beautifully written story. If you are looking for a story that will pull at your heart strings, I highly recommend.