Family Obligations

Title: Family Obligations (Second Edition)
Author: Vivien Dean and Rick R. Reed
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: December 26, 2016
Genre(s): Contemporary
Page Count: 43
Reviewed by: Crabbypatty
Heat Level: 2 flames out of 5
Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Tate D’Angelo always thought he knew who his father was: beloved doctor, devoted husband and father…. Everyone at the funeral shared the same glowing stories of a kind soul. So when his father’s old college buddy, Randy, approaches him after the service, Tate expects to hear echoes of the same.

Instead, he gets a lifetime’s worth of letters that tell a different tale and cause him to view his father—and his family—in a whole new light.

The truth, about a secret romance kept buried for decades, astonishes him. Overwhelmed by grief and confusion, Tate is unsure if he can bear learning how the lives of two men entwined over the years, but he reads on anyway, discovering more to value, more to respect, and most importantly, more to love about the man who raised him.

A Bittersweet Dreams title: It’s an unfortunate truth: love doesn’t always conquer all. Regardless of its strength, sometimes fate intervenes, tragedy strikes, or forces conspire against it. These stories of romance do not offer a traditional happy ending, but the strong and enduring love will still touch your heart and maybe move you to tears.

First Edition published by Amber Quill Press/Amber Allure, 2013.

Tate’s father Mark dies at age 62 and after the funeral a silver-haired man, Randy, approaches Tate telling him Mark and he knew each other in college. Randy gives Tate a thumb drive with Mark and Randy’s letters over the years, saying

“Ah, your father and I had a really close friendship when we were undergrads, and we stayed in touch—sporadically—through the years.[…] I hope they’ll mean something to you, give you a little piece of your father you might not have otherwise had.” […] “I just thought Mark’s son might like to know his dad fully.”

Through correspondence spanning almost 40 years, Tate learns that Mark and Randy were lovers during college but after graduation each takes a different path … and Mark marries, raising a son and building a successful medical practice.

For such a short story, Family Obligations packs a helluva punch, beautifully capturing the love and longing each man feels – balanced against Mark’s belief that he could not be a successful doctor (circa the 1970’s and 1980’s) without remaining in the closet – as well as the sorrow Tate feels learning what his father denied himself. I think each reader comes away from this story with a different interpretation. Was the road Mark took worth giving up love or was it self-deception?

Family Obligations was a visceral and emotional read for me. I’m giving the book 4.5 stars and highly recommend it, knowing that some readers will feel very negatively about the “road not taken” but I think it is worth reading the story to arrive at your own decision.

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Advanced Review Copy

Galley copy of Family Obligations provided by Dreamspinner Press in exchange of an honest review.


Once you learn to read, you will be forever free.  Frederick Douglas I distinctly remember that day in school when, all of a sudden, those squiggles on the page made sense and I could read. It has changed my life in ways I still cannot comprehend. My favorite M/M tropes are friends-to-lovers, murder/mysteries, amnesia, hurt/healing and historicals. Shifters, vampires, paranormal? Meh ... not in my wheelhouse, but I'm a sucker for a well-written well-plotted book, no matter the genre. Favorite authors includes Brandon Witt, Rick R. Reed, Abigail Roux, Jay Northcote, JL Merrow, KJ Charles, Lane Hayes, Marshall Thornton and so many more. A few "badges" from NetGalley: 100 Book Reviews Reviews Published Professional Reader