Rating: 4 stars out of 5
It wasn’t Ellis Broad’s idea to have a child in the first place, it was his husband, Oliver’s. Now 29, Ellis finds himself divorced and the single father of Harrison, his six-month old son. Turned out that Harrison was Ellis’ biological son not his husband’s and that changed everything. Now Ellis is raising his son alone, while working at home full time at his graphic design business. The only thing keeping him going was his closeknit circle of friends and occasional babysitting from his mother. Everyone calls it hiding, but Ellis just sees it as his life…a full time dad.
But his friends have other ideas and introduce Ellis to artist Zane Hadlin. From the first moment they meet, sparks fly. Ellis feels an ease and companionship with Zane that he never had with Oliver. And the feelings are reciprocated. However Zane comes with some serious baggage. Zane and his older brother got mixed up with gangs when they were younger and it got his older brother killed. It also put Zane and his family into hiding, complete with a different last name. Truly scary stuff for Ellis with a young son to look after.
And Oliver hasn’t completely disappeared from their lives. A chance meeting with Zane, Ellis and Harrison on an outing together starts Oliver poking into Zane’s background in a rush of jealousy. Why? Because it is clear that Ellis has never been this happy. He has Zane, Harrison and a new outlook on life. But will Oliver’s interference and Zane’s past conspire to take it all away?
I really enjoyed Summer Son by Anna Martin. Much like its title, the story runs along slow, warm, unhurried lines. It’s highlights are a collection of small scenes of domesticity and the deeply moving bond between a father and his son. Its reminiscent of summer picnics at a park, looking over at all the couples and families spread out on their blankets and tables, watching small intimacies of tenderness and family love.
At the heart of this story is Ellis and Harrison, his six-month old son. Their moments together are delightful and affectionately real. Ellis copes with sleep deprived days and nights, working when Harrison is asleep and totally consumed with his son when Harrison is awake. We are privy to all the details first time parents make note of and all the development progress that parents celebrate. It’s loving, warm, and rings with authenticity. It’s probably my favorite aspect of this story.
Ellis Broad comes across as very believable, especially in his role as a loving but stressed out father. That’s a huge load to carry but Ellis is also shouldering parental duties alone at a stage in his life he never anticipated. Gone, or so he thinks, are his dreams for a loving husband and the life they talked about together. Now Ellis is withdrawn and mistrustful of anything that looks like romance and commitment until a young artist walks into his life, making him question his beliefs and decisions. I really loved Ellis. In fact its really hard not to, especially when he has Harrison in tow.
Zane Hadlin is interesting in his own right. Young, gay and of arabic descent, his gang membership was due to a sense of obligation to his brother and mother. The death of his brother changed everything for him and his family. Now a talented artist, Zane also works with children with special needs. Those scenes will really help to connect you with Zane, including the games he plays with Harrison.
The men finds themselves moving into love and a relationship with a certain amount of thoughtfulness and ease. The drama, when it comes, is gently dealt with, the hurt kept to a reasonable level, and the ending joyful and completely satisfactory. I know that for some readers the addition of a family or child pushes the romance into the background and its does so here. If you are strictly looking for a hot “jump your bones” sort of romance, this is probably not the story for you. But if you enjoy reading about the formation of a family, and loving relationships, then you will find this gentle novel a lovely read and Anna Martin a new author who’s stories you will look forward to.
Cover Art: Aaron Anderson. How could you not love that cover? It’s wonderful and perfect for this story.
book, 200 pages
Published August 1st 2014 by Dreamspinner Press (first published July 31st 2014)