Review: La Famiglia (Men of Gilead #2) by Deanna Wadsworth

Forrester Giordano comes from a huge, nosy Italian family, and with their homophobic jokes and slurs, he’s decided to stay in the closet. He finds respite in his bookstore in the quaint village of Gilead—where he has a huge crush on one of his customers, Kyle Benson.

Kyle is determined to live his dreams, and though life isn’t easy being deaf, one by one he’s making them come true. He’s scored a great job practicing law, bought a cute bungalow where he can finally have a big flower garden, and he has a dog he loves, Jasper. Now he just needs one thing to complete his happiness: a family of his own to make up for the one he never had.

Forrester and Kyle’s relationship starts off hot and heavy, and neither man can deny the depth of their connection. When Forrester’s little brother gets mixed up with their heroin-dealing cousin and his mother falls ill, Forrester has a decision to make—maybe the hardest of his life. For the first time, he’s found a man worth coming out for.

Unfortunately nothing ever goes according to plan with la famiglia.

I’ve got to say that this has a lot going for it, as it boasts a gentle giant who owns a bookstore and falls in love with the gorgeous newcomer with a disability and a painful past. The only thing is, said gentle giant is in the closet.

Yes, lately I haven’t been able to enjoy this sort of set up as much as I used to, but I liked the first book The Rhubarb Patch and its small town setting, so I wanted to give the sequel a chance. For the most part it succeeds.

Forrester is a really down to earth guy, kinda the odd man out amongst his other 3 burly brothers, but he loves his big fat Italian family - he just can’t say with 100% that they’ll love him back if he reveals his true self. Unfortunately, he has some reason for doubt due to a fractious history with his now deceased dad who had a predisposition to spout off bigoted statements. Thus, Forrester fears there’s a possibility that the rest of his relatives feel the same way, and he’s not going to rock the boat if he doesn’t have to. However, Kyle quickly becomes more than a crush, and he knows he’ll have to make some tough decisions and soon.

Kyle, in turn is equally wonderful, seeing the best in Forrester, never pressuring him, knowing that coming out is a very personal choice. Kyle also knows what it feels like when said choices and autonomy are taken away and the feeling of fear and helplessness that comes along with it. His past is particularly awful, where he was horrifically betrayed by the one person who should've kept him safe, using Kyle’s disability against him in the worst way. Because of this, Kyle wholeheartedly supports Forrester regardless of the fact that he wants to be open about being with the protective big guy, but he’s willing to wait since he finally feels safe due to Forrester’s careful care and consideration.

So, despite the hiding and the secrets, the strength of this story lies with both MC’s. Their relationship may start a bit fast once their attraction is made known, but the growing feelings evolve and mature at a good pace. It of course doesn’t hurt that both characters are really really likeable, and this was full of family crazy dynamics, sexy and tender loving, and a good amount of hurt comfort. I admit for me, Wadsworth is a tad quirky where certain things stood out, but I’m invested in this series now and should there be more stories about the characters from this quaint town, I’ll gladly revisit Gilead again.

Thank you to the author/publisher for a copy in exchange for an honest review.

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