Title: Mannies Incorporated
Author: Sean Michael
Cover Artist: BSClay
Publisher: Self Published
Buy link: Amazon.com (Second Edition)
Genre: M/M contemporary
Rating: 2.5 stars
A Guest Review by Sammy
Review Summary: A deeply closeted man meets his match when his sister’s Nanny shows him the ropes, but will he be enough to bring this macho cop out of his self-imposed prison?
Blurb: Slayde’s got the best job on earth: he’s a nanny to Army nurse and widow Mindy’s three kids. He’s been with the family since the oldest was born and is Uncle Slayde to all three children. When Mindy’s deployed, things aren’t easy, but he manages just fine. At least he does until Mindy’s big brother Drake shows up unexpectedly, announcing he’s there to help while Mindy is gone.
Drake is almost a stranger to the kids, hot as hell, especially in his motorcycling leathers, and straighter than straight. On top of that, Drake’s not used to dealing with kids, with things like gluten free, recycling and not eating fast food and soon has Slayde’s tight routine in shambles.
Slayde thinks Drake is far more of a hindrance than a help, at least at the start, but he tries to get along for Mindy’s sake and eventually, having Drake around is easier than not. But what’s he supposed to do when the straight, sexy leather wearing ex-cop makes a pass at him one night? Maybe there’s more to Drake than Slayde assumed.
Review: I freely admit to being a Sean Michael fan. I enjoy his Hammer series and have occasionally dove into his other novels as well. Mannies Incorporated is one of those and I must say that pieces of this story had me hooked right away. While others left me wondering if the author was channeling his Hammer series in order to fill dialogue gaps.
Let’s begin with the story recap–the part where I try to give you the gist but not the whole story. If you regularly read my reviews you know this is my least favorite part–but here goes. A widowed Mom of three has hired a young man, Slayde, to help her with children while she stays on active military duty. Her husband, who was killed in action was frat brothers with Slayde and so he has become a part of the fabric of the family with the children calling him Uncle. When she is deployed she calls her brother, Drake, to let him know and he immediately grows concerned with the idea of a “stranger” raising the children in her absence.
So, of course, he quits his day job (cop) and moves to help care for his nephew and nieces whom he has seen all of once or twice a year. To say that Slayde was rather offended by Drake’s macho and know-it-all attitude is to mildly understate the obvious. As is the formula, however, Drake (or the guy deep, deep in the closet) begins to fall for Slayde who, in turn, professes love first even though he realizes it may never be reciprocated. Throw in some pretty cute kids, two gay hairdressers and you have a fun story that smacked of a “feel-good” lifetime movie.
I like nice stories–call me a cheap date, but I do. I find that amidst the angst in so many novels these days, sweet and simple can be a refreshing turn. However, I am also of the opinion that not everyone can write “nice” with the panache needed to keep the plot fresh and enjoyable. Mannies Incorporated began well. The tension between the two men was palatable, the dialogue snappy and the kids, “melt your heart” perfect. Yes, it seemed a bit implausible that Drake would quit his day job suddenly but as author Sean Michael unfolded the character it seemed more than reasonable that he would be so impulsive. Then the sex started…and, unfortunately, things began to slide downhill, rapidly.
It wasn’t the sex–if you know Sean Michael then you know he can write a steamy sex scene. No, it was the accompanying dialogue and the constant coupling of a line of internal voice that began to slowly wear on my patience. First off, there was a nuance and sometimes what felt like an almost word for word similarity to the conversations one would find in the author’s BDSM Hammer series. Because there was no BDSM element in Mannies Incorporated, the “lifted” pieces of dialogue were discordant and tended to throw me off. I felt as though I was reading two stories. Now, I realize this is a very subjective point–as some who may pick up this novel might not have read the author’s Hammer series and find absolutely no problem. However, for me, this element really stood out as a bit of sloppy writing.
The other key problem arose in the arc of the story line itself. We were humming along nicely, There was tension, both personal and sexual, between the two mc’s. The children were actually believable–little Maggie holding back and not trusting virtual stranger, “Unca Drake”. The “pre-sex” dynamic is resoundingly true to life and fun–just fun. Post sex, things become too easy. The children, like Slayde, fall in love with their Uncle and their believability quotient falls rapidly as their cuteness factor skyrockets.
At the same time, the asides, those pieces of internal dialogue the author had crafted into his story, began to become almost annoying and repetitive. I understood that we were being given a glimpse into the mind of each character–privy to their doubts, their emotions, but there is a limit to how often one can hear the same snippet of thought over and over before it starts to nag and annoy. By the end, I was hoping to never read this style of writing again, it became that overwhelming.
Overall, Mannies Incorporated was a good idea that morphed into a trite and tired tale that left me a bit annoyed and wishing for the Hammer series that this author does best. So, dear reader, cheap date aside, if you like sweet, this may be the book for you. As always, the choice is yours. I will be interested to hear from those who have read this one to see what you thought.