He Said – Ulysses S Dietz She Said – Linda Tonis
Reviewed by Ulysses Dietz
Member of The Paranormal Romance Guild Review Team
I’ve read a bunch of Andrew Grey’s books over the years, but I’ve never given one of them five stars. I’ve liked them all, but this one gets the extra star from me because, well, it made me cry. Maybe it’s the pandemic; maybe it’s the presence of Ethan, a smart ten-year-old caught in a nasty custody dispute between his father and his half-brother. Grey manages to take his m/m formula and give it just the right emotional edge to push all the right buttons for me.
Nick Senaster is a deputy in the Carlisle Sheriff’s department. Feeling somewhat adrift after being dumped and having his house cleaned out by his ex, Nick does the right thing when an emergency foster-care placement comes his way. When it turns out that the kid’s half-brother is the same defiant redhead with whom he’s crossed paths before, Nick doesn’t flinch. He’s a good guy and a good cop, and he sees the love between these siblings as a stabilizing force in the young boy’s life.
What Grey does so well in this story is build up the nascent relationship between Ethan and Nick, drawing on Nick’s own backstory as a foster child. This forces the stubborn law clerk, Alexander, to rethink his opinion of the arrogant deputy, who is giving his little brother something he’s never had since their mother died: a loving home. Alexander’s present is filled with promise and all the stress that goes along with it. The author really does leave it to Nick to be the full adult in this triangle, and he manages it very neatly without resorting to ham-fisted sentiment. Each character, including the little boy, is richly developed for us; and the supporting cast are there to echo the reader’s sentiments and affirm the feelings the author wants us to have.
A particularly nice subtlety here is the way Grey handles the romance between Nick and Alexander. Love is attraction, but it is also emotion, and when there’s a child in trouble, care and concern can make lust seem out of place. Gray plays this with delicacy and without unnecessary prudishness. Ethan’s precocity figures into all this as well, in the most gentle and amusing way.
Although part of a series, this book is fully stand-alone. It is a comforting story of the yearning for family, offering some painful insight into the complexity and fragility of family law.
Reviewed by Linda Tonis
Member of the Paranormal Romance Guild Review Team
This was a wonderful story about a ten year old boy living in an abusive and neglectful home and a Carlisle deputy, Nick Senaster, that comes to his rescue.
Nick had dreams of a family with his partner Stephen but it all came crashing down when Stephen left. Before they separated they had signed up to foster a child but Nick thought nothing of it since Stephen was gone. When he got a phone call that a ten year old boy named Ethan Rasmussen had just been removed from his father due to neglect and abuse and needed a foster home immediately Nick’s application to foster came up and he was not willing to allow a young boy to be left adrift.
Nick was a foster child and knew exactly what it was like and accepted Ethan into his home without question. Ethan is diabetic and requires blood tests and insulin but that is not a problem because Ethan has the same problem. When Nick is asked for permission for Ethan’s brother Alexander to come for visits he has no problem allowing it only when he sees Alexander he recognizes him from a night at his favorite bar when they came to words. Now he is the foster father to Ethan while having to deal with his gorgeous half-brother Alexander who caught his eye at first sight.
Alexander has just graduated from law school and is studying for his bar exam but is determined to get custody of Ethan so he can give him the life he deserves only Ethan’s father Dieter has other ideas. Ethan as so many other children in his situation feels that he should not betray his father and getting him to discuss the things that were done to him by the man who should love him is like pulling teeth.
Ethan is an amazing young boy smart beyond his years and even in the process of skipping grades but the baggage he carries for someone so young is beyond understanding. A father who locks him away for just eating a cookie or refuses to accept his illness to the point where he does nothing to help.
Nick has opened his home and heart to Ethan and Alexander and finally sees what it is like to have a family of his own but there are so many obstacles in the way of his dream. Will the courts return Ethan to his father and will Alexander want to be in his life. My husband and I volunteered for CASA, an organization that monitored foster families and biological families, to see where a child would be better off. I saw first hand that blood won out over and over again over what the best place for a child really was. I firmly believe a child should be with those who will care for him and love him and blood means nothing.
Another story of a child who could easily fall through the cracks, a story we have read about over and over again in newspapers but in this case a loving brother and a man determined to see that Ethan gets the life he deserves could be the answer to a happily ever after. Another tear jerker by Andrew Grey because stories about kids are always the hardest to read, my suggestion Mr. Grey is that you write a comedy or a book about gay aliens or anything that doesn’t bring tears to my eyes. Okay just kidding but you always do get my emotions overflowing.