A MelanieM Audio Review: Family Camp (Daddy Dearest #1) by Eli Easton and Matthew Shaw (Narrator)


Rating: 5 stars out of 5

When Geo signs up for Family Camp, he envisions nature hikes, s’mores, and a chance to win over his recalcitrant new foster kids, Jayden and Lucy. He’s tried to become a dad for so long, and he hopes the three of them can be the family he’s always wanted. What he doesn’t anticipate is the prickly and gorgeous camp counselor who constantly comes to his rescue.

Travis spends a week every year at Camp Evermore, the camp his adoptive parents own. As a pro baseball player, his presence guarantees a full campground and excited campers. He has one rule: never, ever mess around with anyone at camp. His profession demands he stay in the closet. But one sweet and funny new dad is about to test all his resolve.

Sparks fly for Geo and Travis, and not because of the nightly campfire. Having been a foster kid himself, Travis is drawn to Geo’s sincerity and big heart and to his kids. The four of them just fit. But will this be a summer romance? Or can they find a way to be a family long after Family Camp is over?

You know how there are books that as soon as you’ve finished them, you want to start them  all over again?  Well, it turns out there are audio books you feel about that way too. Family Camp (Daddy Dearest #1) by Eli Easton and Matthew Shaw (Narrator) is most definitely one of them.  It imparts  those warm, fuzzy, wrapped up in your favorite blankie sort of feelings, boosted in part by the fabulous narration by Matthew Shaw.

It all starts when new foster dad (who wants to be their forever dad) Geo signs his small new family up for some bonding time at Family Camp in hopes he and they can start to start to move through erected barriers and begin the process of learning about each other and becoming a family.

The journey is not going well.  The car is barely holding together as is Geo’s nerves, the kids well, are being who they are, removed and or brash/outspoken, depending upon the kid. And everything about it speaks of an authenticity of desperation, the reality of a new dad trying to make things work and oh yeah, the heat of a summer’s day.  Great writing, great characters, and a great scene that also came alive with the right narration. Yep, totally hooked.

When Travis enters the picture along with his dog Max, if my heart wasn’t totally engaged before, it was now.  Because the sparks flew and I just knew this was going to be a great couple and yes family affair.  And I couldn’t wait to see how Easton would bring them all together at Camp.

Turns out it’s quite the journey as Travis isn’t out to his team or family.  Geo has foster children in need of himself and the idea they have found their forever home.  And more, so much more as Travis is the product of the foster system and the Family Camp is run by his parents who raised him and a huge number of children, much of whom came out of the system.  Trust is a big element here and not just for Jayden and Lucy but also for Travis and  Geo.

Easton carefully weaves the bonds of family and love between the men and the children, making them feel real and heartbound.  That it takes only two weeks doesn’t feel unlikely because of the established backgrounds.

The pace of the story and the resolution to the angst filled moments all felt right.  As I said I would  be listening to this story again soon, when I need a hug and a story to warm me.

The narration by Matthew Shaw is everything.  His tones have a wide range, equal to a father like Travis’ and then down to Lucy beginning to come out of her shell.  I believed them all.

Cover art just made me grin.  That’s perfect for the story and character.  Doesn’t it make you want to come to Family Camp too?

Audio Buy Links: Audible US | Audible UK | Amazon US | Amazon UK

Audio Book Details:

Audible Audio, 7 pages
Published August 14th 2019 by Pinkerton Road LLC (first published March 28th 2019)
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesDaddy Dearest #1

A Stella Review: Fire of the Heart (Hearts of Parkerburg #3) by Havan Fellows and Lee Brazil


Rating:  3 out of 5 stars

Beacon Hill, Boston in snow.

Beacon Hill, Boston in snow.

Craig Gilchrist is the oldest of five siblings, the captain of the Parkerburg Fire Department, and all around buddy his friends run to when they have a problem. Unfortunately, he’s keeping a secret not only from the whole town, but his family as well. Living in the shadows works for him until one fateful night when a hot stranger walks across a smoky barroom, forcing Craig to make a move that could rock the foundation of his existence…and fill the void in his heart he doesn’t realize he has.

Melrose escaped the end of a bad relationship to start over in Parkerburg. With the support of his cousin and a job waiting tables at a great restaurant, he thinks his life is finally going pretty smoothly. That’s when his path crosses that of Craig Gilchrist, local fire captain. The big, beefy firefighter is definitely not his type. So why does he suddenly star in all of Melrose’s fantasies?

With Melrose at his side, Craig finally has the motivation to step out of the shadows and let Parkerburg see the real him…until trouble arises and the truth comes to light that perhaps he doesn’t know the real Melrose.

Lies and fears play havoc with their newly acquired relationship. Luckily, once ignited, the hearts of Parkerburg don’t burn out so easily.

The Hearts of Parkerburg stories can be read as standalones, each with a HEA…but trust me, you’ll want to read about all the sweet happenings in this quaint little town.

I agree with the authors’ note, Fire of the Heart could be easily read as a standalone. Still I don’t feel to freely recommend to start with it, if you can, read the  Hearts of Parkerburg series in order. You won’t wonder (as I did) about the other couples’ stories, IMO you will get a major completeness. And probably this is one of the reasons why I didn’t give it more that 3 stars.

I had some trouble getting into the story at the start because through all of it, there were too many characters to keep track of and I get confused. The relationship between Melrose and Craig was easy to read and light in spite of some important themes (abuses by an ex boyfriend, being in the closet, coming out) that could have been developed more and give the book a depth it missed very much. This authors’ choice made the plot too simplistic to be realistic and deeply appreciated by me.

I said that to explain my rating, but honestly, if you can ignore the criticisms I made, what you will get is an easy and well done reading. I would have preferred some drama, some angst, just a little spice to take the story on another level , a higher one. Nonetheless I quite enjoyed Fire of the Heart, most of all it was sweet and with a well showed feeling of love, in any form you can think of, from friends, family, co workers and nosey acquaintances.

The Cover Art by Author Services works well just because I like the color and with all those hearts is very romantic.

Sales LinksARe  |  SMASHWORDS   | AMAZON  


ebook, 175 pages

Published February 2nd 2016 by Appleton Publishing Avenue

ISBN13 9781941841426

Edition Language English

Hearts of Parkerburg series

Christmas in His Heart #1 – Dermot & Xander’s story
Heart on the Run #2 – Chaz & Sprocket’s story
Fire of the Heart #3 – Craig & Melrose’s story