Title: Daddy, Daddy and Me
Author: Sean Michael
Cover Artist: S. Squires
Buy link: Amazon.com (Second Edition)
Genre: M/M contemporary romance
Length: 203 pages
Rating: 3.75 stars out of 5
A guest review by Jenre
Summary Review: An enjoyable story about raising children which was let down a little by the erratic behaviour of a minor character.
When Jeff agreed to be the sperm donor to his best friend Beth, he never expected a tragedy to leave his newborn and three year old motherless. That’s exactly what’s happened, though, and it’s totally thrown his life into chaos: his lover has left him, his house isn’t anywhere near childproof and his boss feels the restaurant has been patient enough with the time off.
Donny has always known he wanted to be in childcare, and he just finished his degree in early childhood education. He didn’t count on people being less than thrilled to hire him when they find out that not only is he a male nanny, but a gay one at that. Job hunting has been frustrating to say the least, so when he knocks on Jeff’s door and is greeted by the sounds of things breaking and a pair of screaming children, he thinks, just maybe, he can begin this particular interview with a trial by fire.
Becoming the nanny to Jeff’s children just might be a dream come true for Danny, and exactly what Jeff needs, but are either one of them ready to really be a family?
I’m a bit of a fan of Sean Michael’s short stories, finding them hot and kinky, but not so much of his longer books. This is mainly because his longer novels tend to mostly sex with the tiniest bit of plot slotted in amongst all the hot and heavy. However, just occasionally the author releases a longer book where the plot takes precedence over the sex, and Daddy, Daddy and Me is an example of such a book.
The story begins with Donny who has recently graduated as a specialist in early years care. He’s trying to find a job in child care as a nanny but is finding it difficult to pass an interview because even if people can get past the fact that he’s a man, they soon show him the door once he reveals that he is gay. He arrives at Jeff’s house feeling generally despondent to discover a house in chaos. The baby is screaming, the three year old is refusing to have a bath and Jeff is hopping around with blood dripping out of his foot. Donny immediately takes charge and once the house is peaceful, Jeff, who has been left with two small children after his best friend died, hires him. Donny is over the moon, especially because Jeff is gay too, and once Jeff’s has had chance to get some sleep, Donny realises that he’s also very attractive.
In the end I had a mixed response to this book. I’m always a little wary of books with children in them because they always seem to be these idealised version of kids which doesn’t tally with my own experiences. Fortunately this wasn’t the case with this book, as I felt that the author had done a good job of showing the joys and the difficulties in raising children. Most of the story is about the way that the men work together to look after the kids and so the children did feature quite a lot. Just occasionally I did wonder why neither of the men seemed to need a break and even when it was Donny’s days off he still didn’t take time for himself. I found that rather odd.
Another thing that worked for me was in Jeff and Donny’s growing regard and affection for each other. Their feelings grow quite quickly but I felt that was realistic given that they spend so much time with each other. The move from employer/employee to lovers was organic and smooth, and again took the children into consideration. I also liked the way that the grandparents of the children were present in their lives and pleased to see Jeff and Donny happy together.
The final thing I liked was that the story allowed space for Jeff and his son to grieve over the death of Beth. Donny’s arrival means that Jeff can finally draw breath and face his reactions to Beth’s death and there were several touching scenes where Jeff grieves for her. Robin may only be three, but he’s old enough to know his Mom is gone and yet not understand why. The scenes where Jeff and Donny have to cope with a confused little boy tugged at my heart strings without ever becoming overly sentimental and mawkish.
What didn’t work so well for me was the character of Mitch, Jeff’s ex-lover. He was such a missed opportunity in my opinion. Mitch leaves Jeff after the kids arrive, horrified that their cozy life together has been invaded by nappies, crying children and sleepless nights. Jeff is very upset that Mitch chose to end their seven years together, as is understandable, but I could also understand Mitch’s point of view too. It must have been hard for him to have his life changed like that when he was never interested in children and it seemed realistic that if he couldn’t cope he would leave. Not everyone wants or even likes children. However, instead of allowing us to have a measure of sympathy for Mitch, he’s turned into some kind of monstrous, evil selfish man. It wasn’t enough that he’s branded a selfish asshole by everyone just because he doesn’t like children, he becomes a psychotic, unhinged money grabbing maniac. It was entirely unnecessary and I would have been much happier if Mitch either didn’t appear bodily in the book, left only to be the selfish man who left Jeff, or even better that we could have seen a man who had to make a choice and chose his own needs over that of his lover’s children. This would have provided a much more nuanced character than the one we get with Mitch.
My feelings about Mitch and the rather over the top way he behaves in the story coloured my view of the book overall, so that whilst I liked Donny and Jeff, and thought the story on the whole an enjoyable and satisfying read, I still would put this book in the three star grade. It may be that many readers wouldn’t be put off by Mitch’s character, in which case I would recommend this book to you.