Hi there! Today I’m so excited to share a review and giveaway for a contemporary M/M romance from new-to-me author Rob Loveless. A FAMILY AFFAIR is a little silly and melodramatic, highlighting the dysfunction of a middle class family when a son and daughter both have feelings for the same man.
Scroll down to catch an excerpt, my review, and enter the $10 Amazon GC giveaway below!
About the book:
It’s been said that if you love someone, set them free. If they come back they’re yours; if they don’t they never were. But what does it mean when they come back into your life—as your sibling’s significant other?
At twenty-five years old, Cal Adams has only ever truly loved one man, the one who broke his heart three years earlier—Andrew Hall. Since then, he has searched for meaningful relationships but cannot smolder the flames of the past his family remains unaware of.
As the holiday season approaches, Cal’s younger sister, Claire, brings her boyfriend home to meet the family. When she arrives, Cal is shocked to meet her boyfriend, who is none other than Andrew. In a darkly humorous tale, Cal decides to show his ex what he missed out on.
How about a little taste?
Cal Adams sat at his desk and shuffled through some papers as he eyed the clock: 5:47 p.m. A mixture of excitement and anxiety churned uneasily in his stomach as the seconds hand ticked away. In thirteen minutes, he would relinquish his work responsibilities and prepare for what was sure to be a big night. A few days earlier, Cal’s parents had called to invite him to dinner Friday night for a special occasion—his baby sister would be home from college for the weekend.
Claire Adams was a senior in college and only three and a half years younger than Cal, yet he couldn’t help but refer to her as his baby sister; perhaps that was part of being a big brother. As Claire’s older brother and only sibling, Cal was a bit on edge about that night’s family dinner. After all, Claire wasn’t just coming home to visit; she was bringing along her new boyfriend to meet the family.
Cal tuned out the clinking of weight machines and the grunts of fatigued gym patrons as he sat in his office and concentrated on the circumstance at hand. His sister hadn’t had a boyfriend meet their parents since her junior year of high school, which meant this was serious. Cal and Claire had become very close in recent years, but he had not heard much about this boyfriend, including his name. Claire had always been one to maintain a low profile on social media, and only acknowledged she was “in a relationship” a month or so ago—without posting any photos. From what Cal had been able to gather from his phone calls with her, Claire and her boyfriend had only been seeing each other for about six months. So they hadn’t been together that long. Still, this was serious, which worried Cal a bit.
Being the big brother, Cal was somewhat protective of his sister, but he was happy for Claire, and he was sure he’d love her boyfriend. After all, Claire had a good head on her shoulders. However, this whole situation made Cal uneasy since it made him reflect on his own lack of success in the relationship department.
As the eldest sibling, Cal had always anticipated he would be the first to settle down. However, being twenty-five years old and never having been in a serious relationship, he often felt frustrated and unfulfilled—like something was missing in his life.
It wasn’t that Cal was undateable. On the contrary, he was quite attractive, with medium-length, dark-brown hair, piercing gray eyes, sharp features, and a lean build. He was successful, independent, and had an easygoing, fun-loving personality. In fact, he went on plenty of dates, but nothing ever seemed to pan out. Either the chemistry wasn’t there or things just didn’t advance. Cal hadn’t experienced genuine feelings for anyone since—
“Hey,” a friendly voice chimed, which snapped Cal’s attention back to work. A petite young woman with a pretty, freckled face and long, ginger tresses appeared at his office door.
“Hi, Sophie,” Cal greeted. “Getting ready to head out?”
“Yeah, my six o’clock canceled on me,” she informed him.
Sophie was a personal trainer at the gym Cal managed and also one of his closest friends. Sophie was a year his senior, and the two had been friends since childhood. They knew everything about each other’s lives: the good, the not-so-good, and the bad.
Cal glanced at the clock: nearly six now. “I’ll be leaving in a few too.”
“Any fun weekend plans?” Sophie asked.
“Well, I have that family dinner tonight, but I’m not sure if I would call it fun.”
“Ohh, that’s right!” she said. “Claire’s bringing home the boyfriend. What do you know about him?”
“Nothing,” Cal replied. “Honestly, I don’t even think my parents know much about him.”
“So this is a pretty big deal,” Sophie stated. “It sounds serious.”
“Yeah, it does,” he sighed with a lack of enthusiasm before he shut off his computer.
“Uh oh, sounds like someone’s big brother senses are tingling,” she teased.
“It’s not that. I’m sure this guy is great. And I’m happy for Claire, I really am. But I’m twenty-five years old and—”
“Cal, you can’t keep thinking like that. You’re young, and you’ll find someone.”
“That’s what all my friends say, but you guys are all in relationships,” Cal countered. “You and Rich have been together for years.”
“Believe me, you’re gonna find someone. Soon. I’m sure of it,” Sophie reassured him as she gave his arm a squeeze. “By the way, I forgot to ask, how did the date go with that guy last night?”
“Eh, it was fine…at first.”
“At first?” she questioned.
“Yeah, I mean, he was cute. We just grabbed a coffee. And he seemed to have a good personality.”
“So what happened?”
“He started talking about how he loves popping molly.”
“Oh yeah. And then he told me Lana Del Rey’s music makes him horny. Those were his exact words.”
“What!” Sophie gasped in disbelief. “He did not!”
“I’m telling you I can’t make this stuff up,” Cal chuckled as he shook his head in disbelief. “And really, Lana Del Rey? I didn’t know melancholic songs could get someone all hot and bothered.”
“You’re such a normal guy. How come you always find these crazies?”
“I don’t know, I guess they’re drawn to me,” he joked. “But, in all seriousness, I hate these stupid dating apps. I wish I didn’t have to use them, but I don’t know how else to meet someone. Every time I do meet someone from the apps though, they’re crazy or—”
“Or you don’t feel the spark.”
“No. At least not like I had with—”
“Hey”—Sophie interrupted in a soft voice—“it’s been over three years.”
“I know. I know,” Cal stated. He stood from his desk and grabbed his charcoal peacoat. “And I’m over it—believe me—I am. I just get scared that—”
“Don’t be. You’ll have those feelings again. You’ll find that spark.”
“Yeah, I know,” he sighed with a slight shrug before he hit the lights and left his office with Sophie. The two exited the gym in silence and were soon embraced by the crisp air of late November.
Cal is a 25 year old out-gay manager of a fitness center. He takes pride in his body and his confidence, since it’s something he had to work hard to regain after college. See, in his senior year Cal had an on-off hook-up with a younger student from a nearby school, Andrew. It was an instant connection for Cal, who though tit would be good to nurture it. Cal was still a virgin back then, and he had some deep feelings about rushing into physical release with strangers. Andrew was a bit, maybe, put off by Cal’s primness, but he continued to text Cal when he wanted someone to hang with, and they were occasionally physical.
As time goes on, Cal gets more and more into Andrew, who continues to engage and walk away–citing that Cal’s imminent graduation and out-of-state job was going to end their relationship anyway. In the end, Cal regrets taking his job offer, he’s unhappy and isolated. He soon quits, moves back near home, gets counseling and starts working at the fitness center–his experience helps him land the manager position.
Fast-forward three years. Cal hasn’t been able to connect with any other man like he did with Andrew. It’s the measure Cal seems to use against every man he dates. Right now, his dates with Jacob, a nice guy that ticks all his boxes, is still not as awesome as those fleeting meetings of yore with Andrew. He’s a little despondent about going home for a big family dinner where he’s going to meet his younger sister’s steady guy–wishing he had a guy to bring home too. And, he’s even more upset when he turns up and Andrew is standing by Claire’s ecstatic side.
Cal knew Andrew was bisexual, but the horror of finding that Claire is sleeping with the guy who broke his heart–and took his virginity–is just beyond the pale. Cal is a mess, and his drinking binges are problematic. The first meeting is tense, but Andrew maintains he’s all in for Claire. And Cal has to get over it. Returning for a week leading up to Christmas with Claire, Andrew and his parents pushes Cal to the edge. He’s ready to show how great his life is without Andrew in it. Unfortunately, Andrew is more than enticed–and wouldn’t mind keeping Cal as a side-piece to Claire. It’s insane, but it’s almost everything Cal has wanted for the past three years.
This story has a plot that drips with dysfunction. Cal has little contact with his loving and accepting family. He never told them about Andrew, and he’s not sure if he can now. His just-getting-started connection with Jacob is at risk, but Cal needs to confirm that he’s NOT in love with Andrew again, and that’s super hard when Andrew is slick and sly and sneaking his way back into Cal’s bed. Cal and his bestie Sophie put together a plot to unmask the worst about Andrew, but will Claire listen? Or, will Cal ruin Christmas for everyone…
I had some major issues with Cal’s character, considering how serious he gets over a flighty college guy. Yeah, he had more feelings, but he really did not manage them well, at all. His deep swoon back into love/lust with Andrew is completely unconscionable, and he acts very much like a juvenile about all of these issues. I struggled to like Cal for these reasons. Claire is an idiot and Andrew is a user, so I didn’t have a lot of folks to like in the book, either. The scene on Christmas felt straight out of reality TV, and will likely appeal to people who dig the melodrama. Not my bag, but the shenanigans were somewhat amusing.
The ending gets happy once the toxic Andrew is removed from the situation. I kinda felt the reconciliation with Cal and Claire to be to quick and too cute, but that was me. I’d have been more aggressive about making amends, while Cal just hoped for the best…which seemed irresponsible in the situation. That said, the family dysfunction got fixed and the end was happy for all, but mostly Cal.
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Good luck and keep reading my friends!
About the Author:
Rob Loveless is a corporate communications professional, and currently resides in Pittsburgh, PA. He has been an avid reader and writer from a young age, being influenced by authors like J.K. Rowling and Dan Brown. When he’s not working or writing, Rob enjoys being active, exploring what the Steel City has to offer, and traveling.