*** 3.5 Stars ***
When I picked up Sean Michael’s A Family of His Own
(Mannies Incorporated #2), I was looking for a sweet, fluffy, funny book with minimal angst. I wanted to read about hot gay men taking care of adorable tiny humans who use improbably precocious dialogue and leave me with a serious case of the “awwwwws” when the book is finished (I swear that shit is like catnip to me – I go crazy for it).
So did this book deliver? Abso-freakin-lutely.
After some initially heartbreaking moments that set the scene for the book and help readers to invest in the characters, A Family of His Own
totally delivered on the sweetness and fun and heart that I was looking for.
First of all, it has to be said: I loved Ben! I mean, how could I NOT love someone who was as sweet, open, intelligent, and caring as this guy?! A born nurturer, Ben’s desire to be part of the Cavanaugh family – first as a nanny, and then as a father and husband – was palpable. He just wanted a place to belong and a family to call his own, and who can blame him for that? No one with a heart, that’s who. And, oh gosh! The way that he looked after those kids…? It was positively ovary melting!
But as much as I loved Ben’s character, I have to admit that I was far less enthusiastic about Will’s. There’s no denying that Will has had a rough year – the love of his life is dead which leaves him to raise their three young daughters alone, his closest family member and sole support system is leaving them to take an extended vacation, he has an incredibly demanding job and a boss from hell, and his type one diabetes is out of control. He’s sick and lonely and depressed and utterly overwhelmed. Who wouldn’t be?! That’s a lot for any one person to handle. I understood Will’s grief, but I’d be lying if I said that his reactions and the way that he treated his children in light of that grief didn’t put a strain on the sympathy that I initially felt towards him. Thankfully the author did show readers significant growth in Will's character, both personally and professionally, by the end of the book and it was lovely to see.
Still… I struggled to see exactly what Will brought to his relationship with Ben beyond his three beautiful daughters and a paycheck. To me a relationship is a partnership – a two-way street – but Will spent almost the entire novel needy and cranky and sick. He never seemed to give anything to the relationship in the same way that Ben did. Not that he was a bad guy (he wasn’t!), but he also didn’t seem particularly supportive or even all that interested in Ben as a person outside of his role as a nanny. Whereas Ben was always willing to ask about Will’s day, his work, his life with Dale, his art, etc., I didn’t see a whole lot of that reciprocated by Will and this imbalance ultimately left me feeling a little unsatisfied with that aspect of their relationship.
That said, the couple’s sexy times were PLENTY steamy and the connection between the two of them felt entirely natural. That scene in the attic with Will’s art?! Hot damn! I mean, I’m not gonna say I wouldn’t have appreciated it more if Will had played the part of the lecherous artist and ask Ben to pose nude for him, but what actually happened in the book was good, too... ;)
One of the best things about the book was the dialogue. Carrie’s kiddie-speak was done well; it was cute and sweet and funny and ran in patterns of conversation and attitude that would certainly be familiar to anyone with children. Even better than that, however, was the dialogue between Ben and Will during their more intimate moments. Their bedroom talk didn’t make me want to laugh awkwardly and their stuttering afterwards was perfectly executed to show how brain-melting the sex was. It was never overdone, and always had the kind of natural feel to it that chatting with my friends does. So well done, Mr. Michael!
Overall, I'm going to steal Will's phrase and say that this book was full of “win.” It’s perhaps not the most memorable book I’ll read in 2014, but I’d definitely recommend A Family of His Own to anyone looking for something with feeling and heart as well as a dose of sweetness.