Family Man by Heidi Cullinan
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I’d sum up Family Man as a feel good story. The two men have obstacles in their lives but really the power of family and acceptance makes everything ok. It doesn’t matter that one of the men was married three times before or the other is ten years younger and has an alcoholic mother, family will get you through anything seems to be the moral of the story. It’s a nice moral definitely and the couple is sweet with a nice combination of personalities. The relationship and especially the physical side are well developed and very genuine. It’s a well-written story with a ton of romance that makes you happy you read it.
The plot is pretty familiar with closeted Vinnie, an almost 40-year old with three failed marriages and a huge Italian family. Vinnie decides after a chance encounter with a gay couple that maybe his problem with women is that he’s really into men. He decides to experiment a little and ends up with Trey, a 25-year old virgin who’s taking care of his grandmother and alcoholic mother while working two jobs and trying to get through school. Vin and Trey decide to take it slow and see how things go. This of course leads to some delicious courting with a side of family melodrama.
First off the writing is very clean and well done. Of course the combination is two authors I quite like so that’s a bonus but despite the differing styles, the character voices come through earnestly. Vinnie is written in third person and he’s a guy you can’t help but love. Flawed, messed up, but genuine, he’s a great leading man. I can’t even begin to explain how much I loved him when he dressed up for his “not-date” and added a typical heavy gold chain. He’s such a stereotype for a big, manly Italian lover but balanced with his desires and fears. I didn’t really buy the change in bed, which seems more like a forced departure of his personality than a realistic and vulnerable side.
On the other side there is Trey, whose perspective is written in first person. It’s a bit jarring jumping between first and third as the story alternates between narrators. Just as I’m settling into Trey’s first person narration, the story switches. I found the third person narration easier and more fluid while Trey’s stutters more with stops and starts. That could be a reflection of the character himself and while I very much appreciated seeing his side of things, I also found myself pulled from the story frequently in his chapters. Trey is a great character in and of himself, vulnerable, scared, and strong trying to hold everything together with a deep and justified hidden well of emotions.
Together Trey and Vin are extremely hot. I loved their courting, the slow simmer to romance and sex. Too often couples jump into bed together immediately but here there is a build up, a gradual progression from a hot first kiss to love making. Since the story is mostly internal drama with a side of family dysfunction, this buildup keeps the relationship and story itself moving. The high point is a bit rushed, something even the characters themselves acknowledge, but it’s sweet and like I’ve said, it’s a feel good move.
Family Man is a solid joint effort from the authors and one that fans will very likely enjoy. It’s not something especially memorable, outside of a pretty fabulous cast of secondary characters, but I’m glad I read it and can easily recommend it.