Family Unit by ZA Maxfield
A retired marine, Logan is methodical and conservative. Richard is a liberal pacifist who is pathologically afraid of guns. Yet the minute Logan sets eyes on Richard, his heart turns over like an old car engine and it isn’t long before his motor is revved and Richard is in the driver’s seat—even if it seems like each man is driving a different car.
Richard Hunter is parenting his grandson, and the kid—Nick—has had it rough. Richard vows nothing will stop him from creating a loving and stable home. Not even a tempting, red-hot relationship with a very attractive man. However, when Richard looks into Logan’s blue eyes it’s tough to stay focused.
It’s never easy to become a family, what with a temperamental eight-year-old, disapproving outsiders, and outright extortion attempts. But when push comes to shove, both Logan and Richard are committed family men who want to make a loving home for a little boy who needs them.
Family Unit is an entertaining and easy to read contemporary involving older men, which is a welcome change of pace and not often seen in gay romance. Unfortunately the novel suffers from lack of identity as the men alternate between older men, almost ridiculously so, and energetic, youthful love scenes. The story continually bounces between these two ideas without settling on one or the other. Additionally there is a ridiculous plot twist towards the end that shows a real lack of research and ultimately drops the novel from very good to merely ok and readable. The existing problems do detract from the story and thus the book may not be to all tastes. I found it enjoyable and fast to read despite the issues.
The plot revolves around a retired marine, Logan, who gets involved with Richard, an older gentleman raising his grandson, Nick, alone. Logan and Richard have some difficulties from basic differences in philosophy to Richard’s concern about his grandson and later, some problems with Nick’s mom. The two must weigh the potential their new relationship offers with their fears and desires if they are to last.
The characters are interesting and well developed, especially so of Nick. The dialogue is good with many funny quips and comments. Nick especially is a great portrayal of a nine year old. Logan and Richard are in their 40s/50s and this is definitely shown through many of the sex scenes where one or the other needs reading glasses to look for something or the comments about condoms going bad. While this is humorous, neither man is really that old yet the story alternates between this aged behavior and energetic, often youthful sex. The two depictions were often at odds with each other where they would be complaining about their eyes in one scene and then doing an energetic strip tease and asking to be spanked in the next. This felt as though the story was trying to show older men but also keeping them young and fresh, which didn’t always work well.
The story is very character based as the majority of the time is spent on Logan and Richard working out their differences with Richard running away often. Given their age and experience, Richard’s almost immature attitude towards some elements is frustrating but it shows a complex character for the most part. Logan is much more emotionally and mentally matures and clearly is a positive, driving force in Richard’s life. The men compliment each other with their differences and show a real connection. This is a romance that actually feels honest and authentic. Unfortunately this is ruined by the twist at the end.
Not to offer spoilers but there is a big event towards the end of the book that creates a lot of drama and tension in the story. This is not unexpected per se since the groundwork is laid out from the very beginning for such action to occur. Unfortunately the action taken is ridiculous and unrealistic, even for a fictional novel. The lack of research or understanding is shown and this definitely drags the reader from the fluidity of the novel. This is used as an easy plot device to wrap up several loose ends and give a happy ending, but felt like a loose, cheap way out. The ending also jumps ahead without solving a few essential questions to a happy ever after epilogue.
Other than this unfortunate addition at the end of the book, the story is decent and interesting. The characters are enjoyable and give the book a quick pace and easy read. I would recommend this to fans of the author, but it’s not a story I would re-read. While I appreciate the attempt to portray older men as still virile, sexy men the indecision over their direction and the poor plot at the end ultimately ruined what could have been a very good book. This isn’t a horrible book by any means but the potential is definitely marred and the problems do detract from the story. There are unfortunately numerous errors in the book from at least three obvious name mix ups and several spelling and editing mistakes that show a real lack of care with the story. Some of these mistakes should have been found with a simple spell check so the quality is disappointing given the publisher claims of high quality and care. For those that don’t mind such problems, you can give this a try.
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