A Nice Normal Family (Belen’s Review)

A Nice Normal FamilyTitle: A Nice Normal Family
Author: John Terry Moore
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: September 30th 2016
Genre(s): M/M Contemporary
Page Count: 350 pages
Reviewed by: Belen
Heat Level: 2 flames out of 5
Rating: 2.5 stars out of 5

Jackson “Jacko” Smith is dyslexic, but like many people affected by the learning disability, he is highly intelligent. His best friend Sammy Collins helps him get through school and unlocks his potential. Jacko progresses through the ranks of local government until Mother Nature intervenes and the straight boy and the gay boy become a couple.

As Jacko and Sammy start a family and challenge social mores, Jacko enters politics, horrified at the direction the Australian government is taking. With Sammy by his side, he can achieve anything and rises through the ranks to the highest office in the land, driving Australia away from its British colonial roots and engaging with its neighbors in Asia like never before. Economic growth results, and while most Australians are supportive, a small group of extremists might endanger everything Jacko has built—including his life.

Through the love and the strength of their partnership, Jacko and Sammy rise above their ordinary lives. Because love is never ordinary.

After reading the blurb for this, I thought this was going to be a love story for the ages kind of story. A story about two boys who are best friends from age 10 and who grow to love one another in a romantic way, finally coming together and building a life with one another that nothing and no one can take away.

And, in a way, it is. But largely, I felt this is a far more “political” book, which is not my interest, and it has a way of pacing more like this is Jacko’s journal with a lot of “tell” and very little “show”.


It’s a mostly positive novel, with almost any negative people or situation being turned around to a positive. So much so it was almost fairy-tale like, which was off-putting for me at times.

There is very little steam here, though I didn’t mind that most of the sex is off page… I was just happy to get some on page time with Sammy. I wanted more of Jacko and Sammy.

It’s always been Sammy. It took a lot of intestinal fortitude on my behalf to take the final step and claim him as my own, but when I did, it was the most natural and beautiful thing in my life. I knew instantly what I wanted and I wasn’t about to let him get away again ever, so ten days later I proposed.
The moment Sammy and I began living together, my career at the City began to change for the better, but when we became a couple, my career flourished. Sammy completes me; I can’t function properly without him, but I do accept that he feels similarly about me.
So while I feel embarrassed at all the attention, I remain a total romantic because I recognize it’s been our love for each other that’s driven this show along. Sammy’s devotion and management has turned me from a kid with severe learning problems into an adult high achiever.

I wanted to experience their romance, and while the reader gets to learn about their life through Jacko’s POV and though they have a wonderful rapport and love affair, it’s not really the main part of the story. More like it’s a thread that runs through the whole thing, but it’s not the pattern.

Politics are what’s front and center and takes up the majority of the focus, and while I’m sure others will enjoy it, politics doesn’t interest me at all and it really dragged down my enjoyment of the story.

I also nearly lost my mind when we get some chapters from Sammy’s POV toward the end, but it’s sort of a red herring kind of deal that left me a bit perturbed.


While the core is the love between Sammy and Jacko, the story is far more about the changes and politics Jacko was able to influence with Sammy by his side.

Sammy had set about unlocking my ability, always convinced I could push further, always full of encouragement—and love.
As I said previously, when my life changed for the better, love made it happen. Love was both the catalyst and the motivation, and I don’t want anyone to forget it. Least of all myself.
Love has no boundaries and no rules; it’s perfect the way it is.
Love inspires us to rise above our ordinary lives. In fact love is never ordinary.

Ultimately, this just didn’t work for me.

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Advanced Review Copy

Galley copy of A Nice Normal Family provided by Dreamspinner Press in exchange of an honest review.

While the core is the love between Sammy and Jacko, the story is far more about the changes and politics Jacko was able to influence with Sammy by his side. Ultimately, this just didn't work for me.

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I am an unapologetic book addict/lover. I'm happiest when reading and I spend most of my time with my Kindle, which is never far from my hand. I love to be told a good story! I mostly read fiction: Romance, Erotica, Young Adult, New Adult, Paranormal (shifters? Yes, please!), a little BDSM when I'm in the mood, and I love a good ménage story. I DEFINITELY PREFER A HFN/HEA! My biggest no-no's are cheating, miscommunication / misunderstanding plots, unnecessary angst, and cliffhangers.

A sampling of my "Favorite M/M" stories:

Carry the Ocean The Half of Us Red Dirt Heart Adulting 101 Tied Up In Knots
Shelter the Sea Manties in a Twist David, Renewed Ethan who Loved Carter Perfect Imperfections
Wolfsong Fight the Tide How to Walk Like A Man The Lightning-Struck Heart Forging the Future