Audie Barrack is in it up to his elbows with a sick calf when his son’s school calls. Seems Grainger has gotten into yet another fight. When he walks into the principal’s office, he’s shocked to find his son has been fighting with a little girl named Randi.
A little girl with one blind dad and one dad who recently passed away.
Dixon has lost his sight, his career, and his husband. Thank God for his brothers, Momma and Daddy, and his little girl, or he would simply give up. The last thing he needs is for Randi to start trouble at school, especially trouble that puts him in contact with another dad who might expect him to be a functional human being.
Dixon is struggling to live as a blind man, Audie is terrified someone might see he has a closet to come out of, and everyone from the school to both men’s families is worried for the men and their children. Unless they get themselves together and commit to change, neither of them stands a chance.
Dixon has had to move in with his parents after losing his husband and his sight. His parents are supportive – to an extent – but there is an underlying tension in the house that keeps Dixon on the edge of miserable.
Audie is a young, single father, working his family ranch because he knows nothing else. His mother is somewhat supportive of him, but doesn’t approve of his being gay and isn’t shy about letting him know it.
Dixon and Audie meet when Randi (Dixon’s daughter) punches Grainger (Audie’s son). Audie pretty much immediately falls for Dixon but it takes awhile for that to play out.
The romance between Dixon and Audie is fairly easy going, their relationship is not. Dixon is a widower, well meaning friends and family worry Audie is a rebound man. Dixon is blind, family members worry that he won’t be able to contribute and that he might not be the best man to raise his own daughter, much less two children. Audie is a landless cowboy (he’s mother won’t put a gay boy in her will) with a child of his own.
Despite all the various obstacles and reasons why this shouldn’t work… it does and it does so beautifully.
I really enjoyed this country mouse/city mouse story. The immediate attraction and the acceptance of their romance between themselves let the rest of the story be about each of their own growth.
For all intents and purposes, one wrong decision led to Audie being a single dad, trapped on his family ranch at the age of 25. He’d never gotten to be a single gay man or do any of the other stuff that we do when we are young and carefree. As a result he’s older in some ways but still has a lot of that youth and inexperience in him that was a perfect mix for Dixon.
Dixon had been there and done that. Though he was only 33, he’d had a much more varied life, though not on a ranch! He was a bit jaded, a bit spoiled, a bit insecure, a bit self involved, but so brave. His family didn’t support him – not really – and he felt totally lost.
What I loved was that both men saved each other and the kids helped too. It’s hard to write kids because no two kids are a like and it can be hard to represent that mix of surprisingly mature things that sometimes come out of a young mouth along side the more immature tantrums and such. I think Randi and Grainger are excellent examples of kids done well. Though there were times I thought they were a little too mature, most of the time I really thought they were great.
I loved how the families were represented. They both felt very “gray” to me, meaning not all good and not all bad. So often the family is this all or nothing evil villain when in reality there is usually a mix. Dixon’s parents are well meaning if not fully supportive. Audie’s mom isn’t all bad, though she is pretty judgmental and petty.
Dixon’s reaction to being blind felt pretty appropriate as well, though I did wonder at his relative ease at getting over Ron. I also wondered why Ron’s family was so intent on keeping Randi when Dixon was the biological father, why weren’t his parents taking over?
Overall I thought this was a riveting and wonderful book and I highly recommend it.
World Building/Characterizations 5
Overall 4.6 of 5 hearts!