Author: Marie Sexton

FAMILY MAN by Marie Sexton & Heidi Cullinan

FAMILY MAN by Marie Sexton & Heidi Cullinan

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Source: Publisher
This book may be unsuitable for people under 17 years of age due to its use of sexual content, drug and alcohol use, and/or violence.
FAMILY MAN by Marie Sexton & Heidi CullinanFamily Man by Heidi Cullinan, Marie Sexton
Published by Samhain Publishing on 2013-03-12
Genres: Contemporary, Gay
Reviewed by Cassie

Sometimes family chooses you. How does a man get to be forty without knowing whether he’s gay? That’s a question Vince Fierro is almost afraid to answer. If he is gay, it’ll be a problem for his big, fat Italian family. Still, after three failed marriages, he can’t help but wonder if he’s been playing for the wrong team. There’s only one way to settle it, once and for all—head for Chicago’s Boystown bars, far from anyone who knows him. Naturally, he runs smack into someone from the neighborhood. Between working two jobs, going to school, taking care of his grandmother, and dealing with his mother’s ongoing substance abuse, Trey Giles has little time for fun, let alone dating someone who swears he’s straight. Yet after one night of dancing cheek-to-cheek to the sultry strains of Coltrane, Trey finds himself wanting to help Vinnie figure things out—no promises, and no sex. It seems like a simple plan, until their “no-sex” night turns into the best date of their lives and forges a connection that complicates everything. Warning: This book deals with alcoholism, broken promises, and overbearing little sisters.

JoyfullyRecommended

Forty-year-old Vince Fierro is at a crossroads. After three failed marriages, he suddenly begins to wonder if the problem isn’t that he chose the wrong women, but that he chose women at all. For a good Italian boy raised in a huge Catholic family, it’s a terrifying question to suddenly be asking himself. After confessing his confusion to his sister, he decides to take her advice and go to a gay bar. If he’s not attracted to anyone, he’s not gay. The experiment ends in miserable failure, until he runs into Trey Giles. 

Trey’s family and Vinnie’s have been friends forever. When Trey sees Vinnie at the bar, he’s astonished. Seeing Vinnie’s discomfort, he takes him to a jazz club, where they share a hot dance Trey can’t get out of his mind for days afterward. Between college, his two jobs, and taking care of his grandmother and mother, Trey really doesn’t have time to help a guy who’s just discovering he might be gay, but something about Vinnie makes Trey want to make the time. 

Can the tentative feelings forming between Vinnie and Trey survive Vinnie’s fears and Trey’s difficult circumstances?

I absolutely loved Family Man. Vinnie and Trey are wonderful characters. Both men are caretakers who feel a lot of responsibility toward their families. Vinnie’s huge Italian family is a lot of the reason he’s afraid to admit he might be gay. The last thing he wants to do is disappoint them, or cause them to turn from him. The family has strong Catholic beliefs that make Vinnie’s fears a real possibility. It’s during a plumbing job at the home of a married gay couple that Vinnie begins to consider he might be gay, and he freaks out. After gathering his courage, he tells his sister about what he’s been thinking, and thanks to her advice ends up at a gay bar. It’s not his scene at all, until Trey shows up. Trey’s more than a decade younger, and really attractive, and Vinnie is terrified of him—or more accurately, of the attraction he feels for him. Once he allows himself to go with the flow, however, he begins to enjoy himself. Unfortunately, no matter how much fun he’s having, or how much he’s starting to care for Trey, his fears won’t go away.

Trey has his own problems. At twenty-five, he’s still in school because he spends most of his time working to support his grandmother and alcoholic mother. He’s also still a virgin. Dating Vinnie, who isn’t anywhere near ready for sex, seems like the perfect way to have fun and spend time with someone without the demands another guy might put on him. Of course nothing is that simple, and pretty soon Trey starts to want the strings he thought he didn’t want. His feelings grow deeper and deeper, but his family and Vinnie’s could spell the end of their relationship.

Family Man has so many things going for it I couldn’t help but love it. Both heroes are men I’d want to know in real life. I sympathized with both of them, and shared in their joys and sorrows. The secondary characters, especially Trey’s grandma and Vinnie’s large, Italian family, are great. The conflicts are all realistic, and handled beautifully. The story is told in alternating styles—third person for Vinnie, and first person for Trey. That should have been weird, but was so well done that I ended up really liking it. The partnership of Marie Sexton and Heidi Cullinan brought all the best things about their work together into one delightful book. I can’t recommend Family Man highly enough.

NEVER A HERO by Marie Sexton

NEVER A HERO by Marie Sexton

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Source: Publisher
This book may be unsuitable for people under 17 years of age due to its use of sexual content, drug and alcohol use, and/or violence.
NEVER A HERO by Marie SextonNever a Hero by Marie Sexton
Published by Riptide Publishing on 2013-05
Genres: Contemporary
Reviewed by Cassie

JoyfullyRecommended

Owen Meade is not a confident man. Born with only one hand, he also battles his sexuality and a severe stutter that returns when he least wants it to. He hides in his apartment, working and trying to convince himself he isn’t gay. Then Nick Reynolds moves in downstairs. Nick is everything Owen isn’t: outgoing, confident, and secure in his sexuality. To Owen’s surprise, Nick seems to want to befriend him. They form a friendship that Owen would love to make into more, but Nick holds back. Can Owen get past his own fears and Nick’s secrets to find the happiness he craves?

Never a Hero is a beautifully written tale of a man who has never been secure in himself learning not only to accept himself but to reach out for love as well.  Owen broke my heart. He’s a sweet, gentle man who anyone would love to call friend, yet he hides in his home like a turtle in its shell. The pain and embarrassment he felt over his stutter and his congenitally amputated arm made me want to hug him and protect him from the childhood that left him feeling like he wasn’t good enough. His situation hit especially close to home for me because I grew up with a brother who dealt with the same issue, and I witnessed the way people sometimes treated him due to his missing hand. I felt terrible for poor Owen, who didn’t have a supportive family like mine. From the very first page, I was rooting for Owen to find his confidence and see what a truly good man he was. 

If there was any man who was perfect for Owen, it would be Nick. Nick is a friendly, kind veterinarian who, like me, has a sibling who was born with only one hand. Because of his childhood, he knows how to treat Owen to make him feel more normal. His attraction to Owen is obvious right away, and I began to get frustrated with him for pushing Owen away. Still, he’s such a wonderful guy that I knew he had to have a good reason. His reason, when it was revealed, was not only reasonable, but also heart-wrenching. Fortunately, Owen learns his own strength and refuses to let anything stand in the way of his happiness. 

Never a Hero is one of the best books I’ve read in a long time. Marie Sexton handles two sensitive issues with understanding. I adored both main characters, and the book also has several great secondary characters. Nick’s sister, who shares Owen’s condition, is sassy, bold, and fun. Nick’s friends, many of whom featured in previous Tucker Springs books, are wonderful as well—and it was nice to see how they were doing. Owen’s parents were compelling characters as well. Their choices shaped Owen’s self-image, yet they are not caricatures. Fans of Tucker Springs books will be certain to love Never a Hero, but I would recommend it to anyone who likes heroes battling unusual issues, emotional journeys, and just plain good storytelling.  

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