Family Man (NeRdyWYRM’s Review)

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Title: Family Man
Author: Heidi Cullinan and Marie Sexton
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: September 11, 2017
Genre(s): Contemporary Romance
Page Count: 210 pages
Reviewed by:
Heat Level: 3.5 flames out of 5
Rating: 4 stars out of 5

At forty, Vincent “Vinnie” Fierro is still afraid to admit he might be gay—even to himself. It’ll be a problem for his big, fat Italian family. Still, after three failed marriages, it’s getting harder to ignore what he really wants.

Vinnie attempts some self-exploration in Chicago’s Boystown bars, far from anyone who knows him. Naturally, he runs smack into someone from the neighborhood.

Between working two jobs, going to school, taking care of his grandmother, and dealing with his mother’s ongoing substance abuse, Trey Giles has little time for fun, let alone dating someone who swears he’s straight. Yet after one night of dancing cheek-to-cheek, Trey agrees to let Vinnie court him and see if he truly belongs on this side of the fence—though Trey intends to keep his virginity intact.

It seems like a solid plan, but nothing is simple when family is involved. When Vinnie’s family finds out about their relationship, the situation is sticky enough, but when Trey’s mother goes critical, Vinnie and Trey must decide whose happiness is most important—their families’ or their own.

Second Edition.

First Edition published by Samhain, 2013.

This Book is Like Comfort Food

Italian comfort food. Hot, sometimes spicy, visually appealing, and completely satisfying. I mean, seriously, look at that cover. I couldn’t tell you what I like about it, but like it, I do. As for what’s inside that hot little cover, there is a 13 year age gap between these MCs. Sometimes this bothers me because, in many titles, either one or the other MC always seems to have some hangup about age, body image because of their age, or both. That didn’t happen here, thank the fates.

The relationship develops gradually over a period of months, and both the sexual and emotional aspects were a slow—but sometimes intense—ride. I enjoyed that aspect of the plot because, let’s face it, both of these guys had some things to overcome or come to terms with. Vinnie had to wrestle with jettisoning denial about being gay and coming out to his very large, very opinionated Italian Catholic family. When it was all said and done, he did a hell of a job.

Trey had a myriad of issues to deal with because of his alcoholic mother and a lifetime of systematic neglect, so IMHO, he remained pretty closed off, right up until the end. I didn’t like him as much as I liked Vinnie, but I did get him, so … the dislike might be a ‘me’ thing and not a character development thing. Honestly, I think a little more story would have helped me settle in with Trey a bit more. I needed to see him become an active emotional partner in the relationship and didn’t get the time for that.

As far as the heat factor goes, it was steamy but I would have liked a little more, especially after these guys finally, really got rolling. This is probably an uneducated niggle and I might get lynched for it by people who are more in the know, but given that Vinnie was a gay sex noob, and Trey was the big V, I wanted to see them flip the script in bed at least once.

I get knowing what you want, but I don’t know that you can know for sure that you don’t want something or won’t like it if you haven’t even tried it. Clearly, this wasn’t a problem per se, not for the MCs, but it was kind of a problem for me. Adding a few thousand words to this story for a reciprocal scene, more of Trey in partner mode instead of dating mode, and an epilogue would have made it that much better. That said, what sex was there was hot as hell and made sense for these characters being as inexperienced as they were. Call me a greedy little perv all you want, I wanted more.

I would recommend this book, especially if you like stories with drama-free age differences, a slow but hot burn, and good relationship development. In the end, the book was entertaining, believable, hot enough to keep me interested, relatively low angst, and ultimately pretty satisfying.

So … you can skip the rest of this if you want. It is book related but not in a review-y kind of way. Everything I had to say about this fantastic little nugget, I said ^^ up there ^^ already.

[Getting on my soapbox] I have major complaints about the authors’ vilification of alcoholism as a “disease” because it is, in fact, a disease. It is the only addiction that scientists have actually found a gene marker for, which is why it frequently runs in families. This means that some people are predisposed to alcoholism from the time of conception. All it takes to trigger the gene is one drink at any point in time in their life.

Does this mean all people with the gene will become alcoholics? No. But like any other genetic trait, it makes it exponentially more likely. Does it mean that all alcoholics have the gene? Again, no. Some people become alcoholics by repeatedly making uninformed choices regarding the amount and frequency of their drinking. People stay alcoholics because it is very difficult to quit and because any chemically altered brain makes very bad decisions.

Did you know it takes as long as 18 months for all alcohol to leave the deep tissues of the body, including brain tissue, after an alcoholic quits drinking entirely? This is why relapse is such a problem and why many recovering alcoholics continue to make bad decisions long after they stop slamming back the sauce. Think about that. Eighteen months. The human body can come weeks away from producing two entirely new human beings in that period of time, and yet it takes just as long to rid itself of what amounts to poison. Crazy right?

Click here to find out if you have healthy drinking habits. You might be surprised at what you find.

Not everyone uses alcoholism’s “disease” status as an excuse to keep drinking. For many, the fact that it is a disease just engenders relief because it explains why in the hell they had no control over it. Nobody who becomes an alcoholic decided it was something they wanted to be when they grew up. Many people literally had no choice because, as with most addictions, by the time a person figures out it’s a problem, it’s already too late. Now, once someone knows they have a problem, no excuse—disease, bad day, stress, can’t help it, yadda yadda—let me say that again, no excuse is a good excuse to continue drinking.

It may take time and a lot of false starts to quit, but it can be done. Doing what Mindy did in this book is anathema to any alcoholic, or any addict for that matter, who has fought to get well and continues to fight every day to stay that way. [Climbing off my soapbox]. Thank you, thank you. I’ll be here all week.

Cross-posted at: Goodreads. Read other Goodreads reviews by NeRdyWYRM here.

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


I am a life-long reader and an avid learner. I remember reading books without pictures when I was about four, and raided every title on my parents’ full and intimidating book shelves—well, the ones they would let me read, anyway—from then on. Characters written by authors like Isaac Asimov, Carl Sagan, Robert Jordan, David Eddings, Terry Brooks, Anne Rice, Stephen King, Raymond E. Feist, Mercedes Lackey, Margaret Weis & Tracy Hickman, and Anne McCaffrey were my childhood playmates.

Back then, I went nowhere unless I had a book in my hand. While the rest of my generation was shifting from cassettes to CDs and from Atari to Nintendo, Sega, and Playstation, I spent my allowance on Myth & Magic pewter figurines and on books at the Stars and Stripes bookstore. These days I don’t have a book in my hand anymore, at least not the printed variety. Instead, it’s any device with a Kindle app.

I stubbornly held on to the printed page until a military move weighed my book collection in at over a ton. Oops. Sorry-not-sorry, but I did have to exercise some pragmatism in that area, unfortunately. Now I only buy hardbacks from my favorite authors, the classics, or long-running series. Otherwise, I’ve surrendered to the times and our weight allowance and have gone all digital.

I stay strictly on the fiction side of the fence because non-fiction is generally too dry to hold my interest. I was always a scholar, and so have read enough textbook-like titles and required reading for school and college to last me a lifetime, thank you very much. So, non-fiction? No, thanks. However, barring non-fiction and biographies (ewww people), there’s not much out there I won’t read.

I have loved romance novels since I was prepubescent. Something about historicals and anything with horses, i.e., Native American inspired romances just did it for me. My grandmother was appalled that my parents let me read that ‘smut’ as she called it. I’d already justified my position on being allowed to read those controversial titles with a logical argument that there were a lot of historical facts in those books that couldn’t be learned in the classroom alone. And to this day, I maintain that stance. I have learned more from books, specifically romance and fantasy novels, than I ever did in a classroom.


My dad always said I was too smart for my own good. Looking back, he was probably right! I could logically talk my way into and out of just about anything. It’s served me well, but caused me no end of problems, too. That said, despite my love for the romance genre in general and the m/m romance genre in particular, there is little chance that a decent book of any kind will fail to catch my interest, and there’s nothing at all I’m unwilling to learn. So bring it on. I hope you enjoy my reviews.

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