Audiobook Review: Family Man by Heidi Cullinan & Marie Sexton

Sometimes family chooses you.

At 40, 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.

Narrated by: Colin Darcy
Listening Length: 7 hours and 40 minutes

Sooooo much to like!

This book has been in my TBR mountain since forever so I pounced when it came up in audio. Before I go into my thoughts on the book, let me just say that Colin Darcy did a wonderful job narrating. His Vinnie put a smile on my face repeatedly. My experience with Italian Americans is limited to The Sopranos so I've no clue if it's spot on or too much but I LOVED it. His Trey melted my heart. It was the sweetest voice! I don't know what he did to his voice for Trey but the timbre or whatever melted my butter. So, I will be actively looking for other books narrated by him in the future.

There are few tropes I like more than the age difference one and Family Man put the additional twist on of both men being virgins too! Well, Vinnie's only a virgin in same sex relations, but regardless I really liked this twist because it sort of leveled the playing field between them.

Vinnie having struck out in the marriage department three times decides maybe it's time to try to explore those attractions he's sublimated since college. Trey makes him feel things he's never felt before, things that are confusing and wonderful simultaneously.

What I liked so much about Vinnie was his authenticity. He's from a big, loud, very close knit family and they're important to him; he doesn't want to lose them. He also is falling hard for Trey and doesn't want to shortchange him either. The gamut of emotions he runs all felt very genuine, heartfelt and without artifice. He says what he thinks and does what he says he's going to. He also embraces his desires even though he fears being emasculated by them.

Trey is from the opposite end of the family spectrum. He's had to be self-reliant his whole life because his mother is an alcoholic. He has his gram but they are struggling to make ends meet and they are proud people. I could talk ad nauseam about Trey's childhood and how that probably relates to him still being a virgin who's waiting for The One at 25, but I won't. Suffice to say, he and Vinnie have much to learn from each other.

Family Man is a slow burn with oodles of UST and not a whole lot of sex, but their connection to and desire for one another is on display through both of their perspectives. However I would've liked more focus on their relationship development. There were so many things that occurred off page. Were this a movie a montage would've likely sufficed to show them spending more and more time together but as it stands it's just time jumps of them still being together and offhand references to past events.

I appreciated how the differentiation in their families was illustrated. Vinnie's family takes over.; if you're "family", you're family and they're in your life whereas Trey has had to live with disappointment. As someone with alcoholics in her family I felt for Trey, identified with his anger and respected his wariness. However, I think the focus shifted away from Vinnie and Trey to Trey's dysfunctional relationship with his mother towards the end. Unfortunately, the romance never regained traction and that overshadowing of the romance left me wanting. The ending felt rushed and left me wondering what about gram? what about Trey's mother? are the Fierro's just going to babysit her forever?

Unquestionably the ending is sweet and affecting but it also felt a wee bit disingenuous and I wasn't there yet. I needed Vinnie and Trey to have more time together. Another couple of chapters with them together, being fully immersed in each other's lives and getting acclimated to being out with Vinnie's family would've gone a long way.

Nevertheless, it's still a worthwhile read especially with regard to coming of age no matter your age and embracing who you are even if that person bucks traditional stereotypes.

A review copy was provided by the publisher.

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