Title: Making Ends Meet
Author: SL Armstrong & K Piet
Illustrator: Diana Callinger
Publisher: Storm Moon Press
Length: 65k words
Genre: m/m Contemporary Romance
Heat: 3 – Sexy & Mild
Sex Frequency: 3 – Average Story to Sex
Keywords/Tags: Illustrated, Kids, Single Father, First Times/Loves, Coming Out
Rating: Pretty Good
Includes 12 black-and-white illustrations by Diana Callinger!
Zach is just seventeen years old, but despite his youth, he has more than his fair share of responsibility. An experimental fling in high school has led him down the path of single fatherhood. Now, he holds down a job, takes his college classes online, and pays his own bills as best he can—all while juggling daycare and chores and play-dates for his four-month-old, Mae. It’s a rough, 24/7 life, but to Zach, Mae is worth every penny spent and every minute of his day. With no free time to speak of, it feels like a miracle when Zach meets Wil in the check-out line at his work. Handsome, grounded, from the proverbial “right side of the tracks”, and—even better—good with kids, Wil is everything he could want in a boyfriend. But as interested as Wil is in Zach, he has his own life, his own family, his own job and college career to think about. All the various draws on their time means that it’s hard just to find chances to be together. But Zach’s no stranger to hard tasks, and believes he owes it to himself to try.
It took me a while to read this. Just under a month actually — I kept putting it down and picking it up later. So, I don’t think that it is without faults, but just after the halfway point, I picked it up again and finally started getting into it. And after finishing, well — I respect this book a lot. It is a divergence from most of the writing these two have done in the past, and from typical romance in several ways. First — Zach is seventeen when this story starts, and even though they follow the rules, so to speak, and don’t show any sex until he’s legal, it still pushes the boundaries to think of an underage dad for some people. Second, and SL Armstrong talked about this a couple weeks ago when she stopped by TAR for our spot on the blog tour for this book, the main plot is rather straight forward and simple: two men fall in love, one has a child, and they start a family. There is little other plot besides that, although there are obstacles in their path. That makes this a rather sedate romance and definitely slow to start.
I think that is why I had trouble in the beginning. No matter how much I respected the writing for the purity of plot and the rather realistic look at underage and single parents, I kept thinking… so, this is it? I thought maybe it just wasn’t to my taste, because there’s nothing wrong with that. But after I spent some more time getting to know Zach and Wil, and when their relationship moved from their internal world of three and out into the world, I started to get it. And then I really liked it. I had a difficult time with Zach and points. He’s incredibly insecure about some things, but that is because he’s vulnerable, so objectively I understand it and my response to his need of constant reassurance.
I also appreciated that the socioeconomic disparity between the two was made a subject of tension. It’s something that is incredibly important in many real life relationships. And I think that’s why I respect this story the most, even though it is the very reason it made it difficult for me to get into. This story is much more true to life than most in our genre, most especially in the way it portrays Zach and his need to support his daughter Mae. So I would definitely recommend this story, but I also don’t think that it is for everyone. First, this is definitely for those who like reading stories about kids and gay fathers. Much of this book is taken up by Mae, and the issues Zach has to deal with directly relating to parenting. Also, like I mentioned before the plot is entirely involved with the relationship and the parenting, with little else from the outside world except some in the latter half. And finally, with Zach being underage for the first part of the book and his issues with sex after fathering Mae, the romance gets off to a very slow start.
And on a last note, the relationship, for most of the story, is very sweet. Wil is almost too good to be true, and while it bothered me for a lot of the story, that everything just seemed to fall into place and be super easy and cheesy at times, it did work out to my satisfaction in the end and made sense to me.
Now, on the the giveaway!
Please leave a comment below to win an ebook copy of Making Ends Meet. The giveaway will last until Midnight CST on December 3. I will choose the winner using Random.org and email the winner who will then have 48 hours from the time of the drawing to reply to my email. I will then forward the winner’s information to SL Armstrong and K Piet so you can receive their book.
Please enter the email you’d wish me to contact you at in the comment form, or if you prefer, leave it in the message.
Thank you and good luck!