Story Rating: 4 stars
Audio Rating: 4.25 stars
Narrator: John Solo
Length: 6 hours
Dennis “Ap” McIntosh and Trey “Uncle Daddy” Williamson are two gay men under thirty who are sharing the care for their five orphaned nephews and nieces. Ap is a rodeo man, lean and wiry, who is hustling from show to show to win buckles and purses to support the family, while Trey has been the stay-at-home surrogate parent for the past six years. Trey’s been to every PTA meeting, every practice, every doctor’s appointment, every….everything for those six years, while “Uncle Ap” usually only comes home for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Way back when, before their siblings and parents died in a tragic van wreck, Ap and Trey had a little bit of convenient sexy times. But that’s long in the past…though each man thinks fondly on those times.
Trey is at his breaking point and finally calls Ap to come home early so he can have a break. Ap is willing and he makes it home as fast as he can, but he’s not really up to Trey’s prowess at handling the kids. There’s a lot of growth to be made between him and the kids he adores, but doesn’t see that often. Trey hides out in a local hotel for a few days, taking care of himself in ways he hasn’t been able to since he got invested with the kids. When Trey returns, he sees that Ap’s managing, and basking a bit in the hero worship the kids have for him. Now home, Ap decides he wants to stay with the family a bit longer, really build the relationships he’s let languish while earning money on the circuit. Ap’s bothered, however, by all the side work Trey lines up for himself and their oldest, a 16-year old named Cole, to complete in addition to the working ranch they already manage. Doesn’t he earn enough to take care of the kids? This leads to conflict, tension, and a decided reaffirmation of the mutual respect they’ve had for one another. Being bedmates is soon to follow, with each man falling hard and still trying to figure out how they can go back to “real life” once Ap returns to the rodeo.
I really liked the flow of this story. It’s sweet and sassy, with a bunch of bittersweet moments. The kids play a BIG role in the story, so if you aren’t a fan of romance with kids, this book is NOT for you. “Uncle Daddy” (as the kids call Trey) will be echoing in your head after a while. Also, it’s set in New Mexico, so expect a lot of cowboy talk and rural sensibilities from their small-town community. Their kids, friends, neighbors, and community are all very supportive—no homophobia in this story at all. I loved how the narrator, John Solo, took charge of the voices, making Ap, Trey, their five kids, and their many neighbors—including people of color—sound unique and authentic. The pacing and tone were all great; I really felt transported into Trey and Ap’s life while listening. There is so much tenderness in the voices for Ap and Trey, especially when their sharing memories or traditions with the kids that their parents had experienced growing up.
The romance between in Trey and Ap is more of an expansion of their already successful child rearing partnership, but physicality happens at the right time for the right reasons. Ap needs to connect to his roots, and Trey needs to feel like a man, not a dad, and they both compliment one another in many ways. Ap’s been in awe of Trey’s strength and stability for a while, and Trey’s admired Ap’s daring and devotion to supporting the kids. Ap cuts corners on all his trips to send as much money home as he can, and though he would like to be home more, he’s not sure he can manage it. But, Ap’s getting older, and one bad bull ride could sideline him indefinitely. With Trey’s money-management and ranching skills, Ap might be able to change his career goals to keep him close to his home, and heart, to be a real part of his family. The story doesn’t have a lot a lot of sexy times, but enough that we can be sure these guys are more lovers than likers. This kids embrace their uncles finding love with one another, though, and it made a lot of practical sense as they were inextricably linked even before they renewed their physical relationship.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.