Rating: 4.25 stars
One drunken night changes Rue Murray’s life forever. Curiosity and alcohol made the decision to have sex with a woman seem like a good one at the time. Nine months later the result of that drunken fiasco was born. Faced with the decision to either take the baby or watch her be put up for adoption, Rue decides on fatherhood and soon baby Alice is the center of his life. Rue finds that fatherhood comes with many challenges, not the least of which is daycare while he is bartending to make a living and going to cosmetology school. In desperation, Rue reaches out to his weird new neighbor across the hall and begs him to help watch Alice for the hours he is in school. After all the building manager screened him, right?
Erik Van Nuys is a Science Fiction author forced to move from a beloved rental house when the owner sells his properties. Intensely shy, isolated from people by choice and with OCD tendencies, Erik has watched the sales of his books fall and his income dwindle so when his wildly dressed, purple haired neighbor asks him to watch his baby for a nice monthly sum, Erik says yes although with much trepidation. It isn’t long before he finds himself falling in love with Alice, much to his surprise.
Slowly Rue and Erik adjust to each others quirks as they spend more and more of their time together with Alice as the glue that starts forming them into a family. Both men find themselves happier than they have ever been when Rue gets a job offer from the West Coast. What will Rue do when he must choose between a family he has come to love and the dream job he has always wanted.
One Small Thing is a wonderful story of family, love, and the truth that can hide under unlikely exteriors, all lodged in the state of Delaware. Here they have done Delaware proud as the characters of Rue, Erik, baby Alice and Rue’s best friend Dusty come together to form an endearing and quirky family. The characters the authors have created here are so captivating in their own ways that the reader comes to love them soon after their introduction. First is Rue Murray, who flipflopped his way into my heart. Slender with artfully cut black hair, green eyes, piercings and a love of the color pink, he would have startled many a neighbor on that alone. Add in capri pants, tight t-shirt, pink belt and matching flip flops, and the outer picture was complete. But as with every character here, it’s the inside, their true persona that you come to love. Outgoing, responsible, ambitious for more in life for himself and Alice, he is an easy character for the reader to admire.
While there are layers to Rue, it is with Erik that the depth of characterization is really achieved. Erik is one of the legion of young men hooked to the world outside by cable instead of direction contact. Socially awkward, and burdened by OCD and stuttering, Erik has retreated behind his doors, content to write science fiction books free of romantic love, watch the Star Wars saga when anxiety hits, and gobble junk food and Gatorade for sustenance. It is only when he is forced out of his fortress and into Rue’s building that his life get his first earthquake and he starts to take chances. Erik’s somewhat bland beige exterior hides a gentle heart and nonjudgemental outlook, surprising in one who has lived so narrowly. First Alice and then Rue and Dusty make inroads into Erik’s life and heart. And with his newfound love for them, Erik grows into the person he was always meant to be. Dusty is a lovely creation as well. He is not just a secondary character, he is a needed part of Rue and Erik’s family.
I like the alternating POV here as it gives the reader needed information and insight into each character. It becomes an especially important part of pulling the reader into the story by letting us see the characters interact with those around them outside of each other. It doesn’t always work with every book that has used such a technique but it works here. And as it has bothered some readers that Rue was too eager to turn Alice over to a stranger in a building on such flimsy recommendations, I too remembered being so tired and stretched thin with a baby that exhaustion can make a weak idea seem like a good one. And remember he is young as well. That made his decisions more realistic and acceptable to me.
The three men are gentle souls, kind to others and expecting the same in return. All moments spent in their company is time well spent. I hope that Dusty is going to find his HEA in a sequel as he so deserves it. So why not a higher rating? Well, I guess I just wanted a little more. Maybe a little more resolution, a little more time for Erik to adjust at the end. So it’s a “I loved this story” over a “I really loved this story.” Either way, I loved this story with only a quibble and think you will too.
Cover: Cover art by LC Chase. I liked the cover. OK who doesn’t love those little baby feet and pink shoes? Adorable.