Title: The Little Things
Author: Jay Northcote
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: November 21, 2013 (New cover reissue March 28, 2016)
Genre(s): Contemporary Romance
Page Count: 214
Reviewed by: Crabbypatty
Heat Level: 4 flames out of 5
Rating: 5 stars out of 5
There are lots of things that brighten Joel’s life. His three-year-old daughter, Evie, is one. His close relationship with her mother, his best friend from university, is another. Joel’s boyfriend, Dan, adds spice to his child-free nights, and Joel is pretty happy with how things are.
Then one cold and rainy night, everything changes. Joel’s life is turned upside down when he becomes a full-time dad to Evie, and his previously carefree relationship with Dan cracks under the strain.
Meeting Liam, who acts as if getting hurt isn’t a foregone conclusion, shakes Joel to the core. Their attraction is mutual, and Liam makes no secret of how serious he is about Joel. But Joel is wary. He tells himself he’s keeping Liam at a distance for Evie’s sake, when really he’s protecting his own heart. Taking a chance on this new relationship with Liam may seem a small step—a little thing—but is it one Joel can take after losing so much already?
Oh, I loved this book! I’m reminded of the saying “The most important things in life AREN’T things” (we should all have a pillow like this to remind us daily) but it truly is the little things that make this story so wonderful. Jay Northcote takes the time to tell Joel and Claire’s story – how two best friends at uni and one night of sex resulted in an unplanned pregnancy, made somewhat more complicated by Joel realizing that he was gay. Joel and Claire support and love each other and share parenting duties for their sweet three-year-old Evie, until that awful night Claire is killed in a car accident. Joel becomes a full-time parent and the first casualty is his boyfriend, Dan. We’ve gotten the chance to know Dan in the first part of the book; he’s a nice guy (only 19) and not ready to become a partner in their relationship. I admire how each character in the book is portrayed – Evie is not a wise-cracking child older than her years – she’s a little girl who misses her mommy. Dan is not vilified as the “bad boyfriend” and Claire was still Joel’s best friend and a loving and caring mother.
Now if you’re the type of reader that wants a bit of excitement to keep a story moving along at a good pace (and I’m raising my hand right here along with you), the pace of the story might be too slow for you, but I urge you to stick with it. You really get a sense of what makes Joel a good father – his care and love for Evie, those parenting moments of little drawings on the frig, playing in the park, nightmares made all better by snuggling with Daddy, tantrums, and wanting to hang onto that little girl so tightly because she’s all that’s left of Claire. Because we have a good sense of the ebb and flow of Joel’s new life, when Liam and Joel start dating it is beautiful to read. Or as Joel’s brother-in-law James says:
So, he’s a nice guy AND he’s hot? […] Isn’t that like the holy grail?
Although their relationship is pretty angst-free (and incredibly hot and steamy), Joel does have a moment of being a totally bone-headed git, but the ending is a very happy HEA that will make you smile. In short, The Little Things is a lovely story (now with a lovely new cover) and I recommend it for anyone looking for a sweet thoughtful story about the search for love and family.