Title: One Small Thing
Author: Piper Vaughn and M.J. O’Shea
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Art: L.C. Chase
Genre: contemporary m/m romance
Length: novel (214 pdf pages)
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
A Guest Review by Feliz
Summary Review: This book took off slowly, but its very lovably protagonists turned it into a sweet romance-cum-baby.
The Blurb: “Daddy” is not a title Rue Murray wanted, but he never thought he’d have sex with a woman either. Now he’s the unwitting father of a newborn named Alice. Between bartending and cosmetology school, Rue doesn’t have time for babies, but he can’t give her up. What Rue needs is a babysitter, and he’s running out of options. He’s on the verge of quitting school to watch Alice himself when he remembers his reclusive new neighbor, Erik.
Erik Van Nuys is a sci-fi novelist with anxiety issues to spare. He doesn’t like people in general, and he likes babies even less. Still, with his royalties dwindling, he could use the extra cash. Reluctantly, he takes on the role of manny—and even more reluctantly, he finds himself falling for Alice and her flamboyant father.
Rue and Erik are as different as two people can be, and Alice is the unlikeliest of babies, but Rue has never been happier than when Alice and Erik are by his side. At least, not until he receives an offer that puts all his dreams within reach and he’s forced to choose: the future he’s always wanted, or the family he thought he never did.
I admit freely that this book was something of an experiment for me as I’m normally not too keen on the much-used manny trope. And it started as I had feared it would, with a reluctant mother who, after agreeing to carry Rue’s baby to full term, disappeared conveniently easy from the scene, and then pages and pages of Rue running around between tending bar and going to school trying to find decent daycare for his unexpected child, changing diapers and burping the baby. Drawn-out to the point of boredom. (but then again, I’m no parent, perhaps readers with children will relate and enjoy reading about this newbie father’s sorrows.) But once Erik made his first appearance, it got interesting. That man sure has some serious issues to deal with! Obsessive-compulsive disorder, anxiety attacs, shyness bordering on misanthrophy to name only a few. He and Rue made the most unlikely couple imaginable, and yet they found each other, with baby Alice working as unwitting but highly adorable catalyst.
Like Alice did with Erik, this book wormed its way into my heart. In the beginning, I kept stumbling over impropabilities, beginning with the behavior of Alice’s mother. Then the fact that a bookish, obsessively neat geek like Erik would even begin to consider a babysitting job, as broke as he may be, and as sympathetic he might feel watching the condescension Rue meets with. Next was the fact that Rue would trust Erik with Alice in the first place, a man he’s spoken to exactly once and, in doing so, thought a weirdo. But as Rue and Erik began to really interact, all those niggles ceased to matter to me. (The only question that remained unresolved for me was how Erik maintained his toned, slender body, given his diet and the fact that he rarely left his apartment…).
The book is written in alternating first person POV’s, a concept that took some getting used to but worked well as I got to be privy to both character’s thoughts about their slowly devloping mutual fondness,their doubts and issues and their different approach, to each other as well as Alice. Speaking of which, even though the baby played an important part in bringing Rue and Erik together, she didn’t have much of a role in the story aside from this, being to young to really contribute. She WAS adorable, though, and the messiness that comes with caring for a baby actually added a touch of reality to the story, even though Alice was thankfully a healthy, and for the most part, happy baby that didn’t provide much additional stress to her two dads’ lives other than her mere existence.
As I said above, all my little niggles dissolved as I watched the story unfold, and Erik along with it. At first so caught up in his own problems that he appeared almost age- and genderless, a creature dependant on his quirks and rituals to merely function in something resembling a normal life, Erik literally developed self-consciousness over the course of the story. Like Sleeping Beauty, with Rue as his Prince Charming to kiss him into awareness, not only to life, but also to his sexuality. By the end, Erik had turned into an actual person, into a reliable friend, affectionate parent, and an eager, even slightly possessive lover–in short, a quintessentially pleasant character who I ended up liking very much.
Rue’s character went through another kind of growth than Erik, less obvious, though not less thorough for this. He started out as a charming yet rather shallow party animal, a commitment-shy hedonist who was used to judge people for their outer appearance and rarely ever said no to sex. In taking the responsibility for Alice he entered into the ultimate commitment, a fact he realized only afterwards. But he grew with his responsibilities. For Rue, Erik became his anchor, a calming influence–dealing with Erik’s many issues as well as watching Erik working through them grounded Rue, helped him settle into his new role as a responsible adult. Rue and Erik complemented each other, and in the end, were perfect for each other and for their daughter.
Once they’d found each other, the romance flew calmly and smoothly toward its comfortable, sweet ending. I kept waiting for some kind of shoe to drop, but it didn’t; although they had to face some problems,they worked through them together–sometimes with a little help from the third main character, Dusty (who was a thoroughly likable character right from the start and who I’d like very much to see find some happiness of his own). This is a comfort read if there ever was one, sweet but not overly so, with flawed, well-developed characters, a beautifully un-annoying baby and a delicious pinch of humor. Recommended.