I love Chris Scully's stories ... they never let me down before. Her stories are always plot and character driven, which makes it easy for me to feel invested even when the characters may not necessarily likable when you first meet them.
Take Archer Noble, for example, who starts as someone dead set against monogamy, marriage, or any kind of commitment. "The notion that marriage and, by extension, monogamy is the ideal is laughable. Monogamy doesn’t even work for straight people," he states during a talk show. He is famous for being infamous.
Then we also have Ryan Eriksson; in a sense he might be the 'better' character than Archer. He dreams of white picket fences, husband and kids, and all its glory. Although it doesn't mean that I easily connect with Ryan's ideal. He's only 25 years old -- and in my family (and upbringing) that is still a bit too young to settle down, so let me be honest, I will scoff on him too in real life.
But then Archer's younger sister Marguerite died in an accident, leaving Archer to take care of her two young kids (Dillon and Emma). Ryan, who is also Marguerite's best friend as well as Dillon's teacher, has been appointed as temporary guardian. So these two complete opposites are 'forced' to cohabit because Ryan wants to ensure that the transition to be as smooth as possible (plus he also loves the kids very much). At least until September (when the new school semester starts). This situation, starting from animosity that turns wary partnership and then later on a relationship, just mesmerized me from the beginning.
I also loved how present the kids are. I know that this might be a deal-breaker for some readers who dislike kids in their romance, but I thought they were significant to the progress of our heroes. Yes the romance was slow burn but that made this story felt real and down-to-earth.
Of course when it comes down to it maybe Archer ends up 'succumbing' to the heteronormative values that he is dead sets against in the first place -- and maybe this doesn't do well for those who are on his side. But for me, that's not the point. The point is that what people want might change over time. I used to want to be a doctor. I used to avoid working at an high rise building (I had this idea in my head that people working there were corporate drones *sheepish smile*). I used to dislike the color purple (I know!)
In this case, Archer and Ryan were not exactly the same men that I met when I first started the book. In their time of taking care of the kids and living together, both men were learning from one another. Archer found that his love for Ryan and the kids made him want to settle down. While Ryan realized that being happy didn't necessarily come from house with white-picket fences, marrying the ideal type of husband and having kids coming from his own DNA.
And that, my friend, was that made the book a winner in my eyes :)
The ARC is provided by the publisher via Netgalley for an exchange of fair and honest review. No high rating is required for any ARC received.