“When everything goes to hell, the people who stand by you without flinching — they are your family.” – Jim Butcher
Title: Summer Son
Author: Anna Martin
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Pages/Word Count: 200 Pages
Rating: 4 Stars
Blurb: Ellis Broad never imagined he would end up a single father before he turned twenty-nine.
Then again, most of his expectations for the future evaporated when his husband of three years filed for divorce, leaving Ellis as their six-month-old son Harrison’s only parent. After the divorce Ellis hides, working from home on his small graphic design business so he can be a full-time dad. He succeeds until Zane Hadlin stumbles into his life.
Zane is everything Ellis desires and everything he fears at the same time. A former gang member from the wrong side of the tracks, Zane turned his life around after his older brother was killed in a shooting. Now an artist, Zane shows Ellis a path back into the world and all he’s been missing out on.
The only problem is, Ellis’s ex-husband hasn’t quite gone for good, and his digging into Zane’s past could drag up secrets no one is prepared to deal with.
Review: Ellis once dreamed of a loving family. He, his spouse Oliver, and their yet to be born child would live happily ever after. Then Harrison was born via surrogate, and Oliver became distant. One thing led to another, and suddenly Oliver was walking out and then demanding to know who was the father since the two men had comingled sperm at the time of conception. Oliver was not going to be responsible financially or emotionally for a kid that was not genetically his—that was the bottom line and Ellis was devastated by it.
Now facing life as a single dad and trying to keep his home graphic design business afloat, Ellis has little time for anything but changing diapers and getting Harrison to eat. Don’t even mention a love life. But his friend Meg does just that by insisting Ellis come out to party with her and their close friends, and that is when he meets a young artist named Zane. Zane is a quiet force to be reckoned with from the start. He and Ellis are inexorably drawn to each other, and it does not hurt that Zane has an instant affection for Harrison as well. But Zane has a shadowy and violent past that will come to haunt these two men, and become a stumbling block to any future they may have together, not to mention threaten to take Harrison away from them as well.
Anna Martin’s Summer Son is a study in relationships, from lovers to friendships and broken dreams in between. This is a tale about community and the way in which it can enrich our lives and bolster us when we are in danger of falling. With a quirky yet intriguing cast of secondary characters, Anna Martin wraps the fragile love between Zane and Ellis in a cocoon of safety. Hence, there are no real “big” moments in this story, rather there are many small bumps in the road that were sometimes too readily fixed. But despite there being easy solutions to real dangers in their lives, it was the love story that evolved between these two men that kept this novel afloat.
I was delighted to watch their growing closeness unfold gradually and develop as time moved on. I so appreciated that there were bumps in their relationship—Ellis’s reluctance to ever marry again, let alone even consider more children after being so callously dumped by his former husband, was one such bump. Then there was Zane’s sacrificial compassion in offering to leave Ellis and little Harrison when it was apparent that his past would threaten their safety. And surrounding each of these worries were friends who stood by these two men and gave them support and love.
While Summer Son was not some epic tale with lots of drama, it was a beautifully woven love story, and a family in the making. If you crave a happy ever after, this book is most certainly for you.
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