Ryan is a doting father to his own teenaged daughter and his three young nieces. When his sister and her husband died three years ago, he didn’t hesitate to adopt their kids. While they are a happy family, Ryan is lonely; he hasn’t had a date/sexual partner in roughly eight years. That’s why his daughter and mother set him up on a blind date with Alex.
Alex is a man on a mission to save people in dire need. His family wealth was built on greed, and he now spends his inheritance to build wells and schools in Africa, or works with the Red Cross in rebuilding and recovering people in natural disaster areas. He’s just returned from a trip and is almost as excited for a date as he is for a steak dinner. But, he never expected the sexy man who turns up to be a father of four. Still, the men hit it off and they are both ready for some companionship.
Ryan and Alex meet for a second date, but it’s cut short when Ryan’s girls become ill. Ryan’s stunned when Alex decides to go along to assist. This turns into a several days experience while they nurse all the sick girls together, and then Ryan helps Alex after he gets the flu, too. They make a cozy family, in truth, and Alex’s fears about fatherhood seem unfounded in practice. He adores the girls and they seem to like him, until he gets a call to rescue survivors in hurricane-ravaged Haiti. Alex barely pauses to pack his bag and leaves Ryan to manage on his own through illness, as well. The girls can’t understand how Alex just left, and it stirs up their bad memories of losing their parents. Ryan isn’t sure it was a good idea to introduce the girls to Alex, especially if he can’t be a constant presence. Their relationship solidified way sooner than either of them was ready to admit, and their different expectations don’t seem to match up. It takes some direct communication to patch things up, and some decisions on Alex’s part.
This is a sweet romance for two lonely souls who inadvertently connect. Alex and Ryan are really awesome characters with demonstrable nobility in their actions. Ryan self-sacrifices for his kids, and Alex self-sacrifices for strangers, but both are finally realizing that these decisions have cost them companionship for years now. I loved how realistic the situations felt, from dealing with ill kids, to the heartbreak of the disaster scene; I could have been there. I also liked that the kids all had different, and not-annoying, personalities. They are sweet in tangible and age-appropriate ways, whether making welcome home banners and planning special meals, or taking care of their “popsy” and his bruised heart. The time-frame for the love story was short, but the close quarters seemed to foster an intense connection. Alex is an adaptable guy, and he’s been around lots of children in his missions. He really took to Ryan’s girls. He and Ryan have an undeniable chemistry, and it helps them in their separations. I could relate to his need to have Ryan as a focal point while working in desolate areas. And, I could see how his view of his work paled once he had a real home to leave and return to. I liked how they resolved their issues—and made a life that suited their combined interests. It’s a happy ending that felt real.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.