When widowed, jobless, and about to be homeless Jake Maxfield inherits his Aunt Becky's home in Texas, the California native uproots his teenagers and moves. Still trying to rebuild his career after the mortgage crises, and to reconnect with the kids he's been too busy for, the last thing Jake is looking for is love. Especially with a man.
Cade Littlebear isn't looking for love either, but he and Jake have an immediate attraction that neither of them are able to deny. Just when they think that combining their lives and their teenaged families is going to be their toughest challenge, their very existence is threatened by narrow-mined bigots. Their determination not to hide who they are and refusal to live in the shadows only adds fuel to the fire. Can Jake and Cade survive and bring their lives and families together? Or will hatred win the day?
Nearly broke, recently widowed, and out of work and prospects, Jake Maxfield needs a break, which comes as a legacy from an elderly aunt. Of course, to use it, Jake has to uproot his teenaged kids to Westburg, Texas, where he'll meet an assortment of characters from the aging beauty queen accustomed to getting what she wants, to the pick-up driving redneck bigot, to the part-Indian and totally scrumptious Cade Littlebear, who he feels an instant affinity and horrifyingly immediate attraction to.
For a guy who spent twenty some years in a comfortable marriage, Jake comes flying out of the closet pretty dang fast, which he spends some time musing about. The kids take this with a pretty even temper, the son, Thad, is initially upset but gets over it really fast, and Gracie, seventeen, is all whatever makes you happy, daddy, about it. The kids, described initially as high maintenance, are actually about as self-raising as biscuits, and so perfect I want to graft them onto some teenagers I know.
Cade himself, an ex-SEAL, and product of a disastrous childhood, feels the attraction back, and from early on, it's all pet names, phone sex, (which is really hot) and getting to blend the two families -- he has a teenaged daughter and a feisty sister, and it looks like they might make it. The two men trying to get some gropage in without alerting the kids is one of the big charms of the book.
This is a book of extremes, and the author seems to be trying to cram both ends of the spectrum in at the same time. Cade's childhood of learning not to trust and then military stoicism (note to author, SEALs have an 80% washout rate in training, and they need 2 and a half years of it before they can do their first mission, this leaves a mark, plus how the hell did he have so much time to futz around in the motor pool?) doesn't keep him from being touchy-feely and full of pet names. Jake being this close to broke and desperate, can still peel off a twenty to flush away in mindless entertainment without so much as a thought, and turn away from an opportunity that will keep his kids eating. There's mega-love inside, mega-hate outside. There's instant reinvented for themselves BDSM, which seems grafted on and a lot more like riding a trend than adding anything substantial to the story, which was all about redefining yourself, learning to love in a new way, making a new family, and surviving the outside world, until that last sex scene.
And still, this book works better than it has any right to. I read it in one sitting, in spite of myself, and have been thinking about it, at least partly with pleasure. 3 marbles