Title: A Fostered Love (Foster Siblings #1)
Author: Cameron Dane
Buy Link: Amazon.com
Genre: Contemporary M/M
Rating: 4 stars out of 5
Christian Sanchez never thought he would see Jonah Roberts again. Foster brothers for a short time as teens, Christian developed a massive crush on Jonah, his tough, older roommate. That all ended when the cops came and arrested Jonah, stealing him from Christian’s uncertain world.
Jonah never forgot Christian, even though he cut off all contact with the boy. Jonah knew the kid with the crush on him would be better off forgetting that Jonah ever existed. Jonah stayed in contact with his foster mother Marisol, but refused to hear stories about Christian, and made the woman promise never to tell Christian anything about him. Upon her death fifteen years later, Marisol leaves a request that Jonah come home and help Christian renovate her house. Jonah can’t refuse, even though he knows he will have to face Christian once again.
Although they haven’t seen each other in years, neither man has forgotten the other. Neither man will deny Marisol her final request…even if it means facing their past, working together, sharing the room they had as teens, getting to know one another now as men, and discovering that the brief friendship they shared has altered into a consuming, abiding love.
I read this book because it was recommended by other readers, however it was not one of my favourite books despite the fact that the story was well written with at least one character that I thought had a lot going for him.
The basic plot is explained in the blurb. Jonah came back to bury his foster mother Mari and see Christian, not necessarily in that order. When they last met Christian was 14, Jonah was 17 and Christian had a crush on Jonah even at that early age. Mari’s last wish was that Jonah and Christian work together to renovate her house for sale so that the proceeds would go toward her favourite charities, and this set the stage for their love affair to bloom. Now, fifteen years later, their feelings for each other were even more intense than as teenagers and both characters were on a journey to find out what they had missed in the intervening years.
In the middle of getting reacquainted Jonah found out soon enough that there was a big cloud on the horizon hanging over Christian in the person of David, Christian’s closeted ex who was now married but apparently could not stay away despite frequent requests from Christian to do so. David ultimately became a threat and consequently was a significant part of the plot.
Jonah’s character had never been in love and could not connect to others because he had had no experience in his life of being close to someone. His disastrous childhood, although in the distant past, was still the filter through which he judged everyone and it had a significant effect on the man he had become – wary, elusive, tough, uncommunicative, closed off – until he reconnected with Christian and realized that he wanted more in his life than the barren landscape it had become. He didn’t know anything about giving a lover pleasure because he had never had a lover only one night stands with both sexes, and as for relationships, that was a foreign concept. Christian on the other hand, although he spent most of his life in foster care, did not appear to bear the usual scars and even had a relationship with his mother whose lifestyle was the reason he had been placed in Mari’s care in the first place.
There is much to recommend A Fostered Love but I thought it could have done with a bit of editing. For example, some sex scenes in the book would require a contortionist to execute the antics. In addition, the minor plot of the stalker, David, was a throw away which was badly executed especially the final scene where Jonah managed to free himself, call 911, and with Christian ‘s help physically overcome David while he held a gun, even though a few moments before he had been knocked unconscious and his hands and feet bound by duct tape. Totally unbelievable. Also, I can’t count the times the characters’ names were mentioned in this book but I would guess at least a few hundred at a minimum. I realize that it’s challenging to differentiate who is speaking in a story about two men and “he” and “him” might become confusing to the reader, but the number of times Christian’s and Jonah’s names were mentioned in the prose and dialogue was off the scale. While reading this book I was reminded about a recent blog post by Erastes where she talked about nomenclature and the common mistakes authors make in this area, here’s a link to the post. On the plus side there is a lot of emotion between Christian and Jonah, and the sex was inventive and at times rough which was exactly what they needed to show they belonged to each other. There was one scene towards the end of the book where they had sex on the ground on the same site where Jonah had lived with his abusive mother and stepfather which I thought was a bit over the top, but die hard romantics might like its significance because it represented Jonah’s attempt to eradicate the horrible memories of his childhood.
The secondary characters of Rodrigo, Christian’s boss and Abby, his foster sister provided some welcome relief with their constant bickering, and the author probably has plans to give them their own book as this is her usual modus operandi when she introduces supporting characters. David was profiled as the typical abusive boyfriend who could not take “no” for an answer and eventually became unhinged and took matters into his own hands when threats against Christian didn’t work. Without giving too much away, some of his scenes didn’t work for me as I thought his characterization was stereotypical of the closeted gay lover who was rejected by his ex and decided that there was only one way to get him back. In addition, the plot device that the author used to give David the opportunity to enter the house unnoticed was too obvious – anyone could see it coming. There are so many holes in this story you could drive a truck through it.
I know that many readers really love this book but I didn’t find it as wonderful a read as some of you did for the reasons mentioned in the review. The scenes between Jonah and Christian were certainly designed to get the blood flow going at an accelerated pace and there was a lot of sex in A Fostered Love which is the norm for this author. However, as in all the books I have read by Cameron Dane so far, her word choices around the sex act between men leave a lot to be desired and in some cases are actuallty a turn off. Her fondness for clinical terms like spincter, rectum, anus and ejaculate seem in direct contrast to her other favourite and more raunchy but gross word choice like “chute” which did not have quite the intended effect in a love scene, then there is the over the top “flaming channel,” none of which put me in the right mood to enjoy the sex between the lovers – a pity because most of the sex was pretty hot.
I liked Christian’s character which was more mature than Jonah who was strange and unpredictable and did not show much character growth. His capacity for emotion seemed almost non existent in part due I suppose to his unusual and dysfunctional life, and his only salvation was Christian to whom he clung throughout the story. He was a complex character who was bossy at times but then would become an emotional basket case with a major inferiority complex
Despite the problems I had with this story and Jonah’s character as well as the very dubious secondary plot of the stalker I would recommend this book because there are many elements that would appeal to romance readers. Who doesn’t like a story of a former bad boy that finds redemption and his soul mate? As you can probably tell, it was a struggle for me to rate this book as 4 stars but the writing in general was good and Christian’s character made up for some of the flaws in Jonah’s characterization.