“Your first family is your blood family and you always be true to that. That means something. But there’s another family, and that’s the one you go out and find. Maybe even by accident sometimes. And they’re as much blood as your first family. Maybe more so because they don’t have to look out for you and they don’t have to love you. They choose to.” – Dennis Lehane
Everyone around Ray Connelly knows he is gay. His grandmother keeps asking when he’s going to bring home a boyfriend, but Ray isn’t ready to come out yet. He is worried about how his parents will take it. He comes from a wealthy, prominent family, and has learned that to embarrass them has devastating consequences.
Christopher “Viv” Vivvens is straight. Always has been. He and his half-brother Dan own a club. Why is Viv unable to keep his eyes off the singer in the last minute substitute band? Why does it seem that every time he looks at the stage, the singer’s staring back at him? Dan and Ray’s niece (whom he raised and thinks of more as a daughter) cook up a scheme behind the two men’s backs: they find themselves in a position where they are forced to pretend to be boyfriends. The benefits are different for each of them, but the charade has to be convincing.
Neither one of them expects to fall in love. They are forced to spend a lot of time together with Ray’s family to keep the façade going. Their public displays of affection start to become increasingly more passionate, then they turn into private displays of affection. Viv still isn’t willing to consider the fact that he may just be gay. Ray isn’t willing to admit that he has fallen for Viv.
Viv’s evil ex shows up and wreaks havoc on everyone in her path. She doesn’t believe that Viv is gay, and wants him back. She still believes he is “hers” and is going to prove it to everyone, no matter what the cost or damage to their lives. It is through the chain of events set off by her plan that Ray and Viv really learn that they are in love and have what it takes to make it for the long haul.
Most books would end there. You have your HEA wrapped up in a neat bow. But the title of this book is Family Connections, right? If I were to make a family tree for every character in this book, and to whom they were related and how they became part of this family, I’d need a movie theater screen-sized wall. N.J. Nielson introduces us to so many characters, I honestly had a hard time keeping them straight (LOL). Byron and Brent gave me the mind twisties sometimes.
The amount of love that Viv and Ray have for each other is multiplied again and again with each new character that N.J. Nielson adds to the mix. It is beautiful to see how they grow and mature. The book appears to take place over about a two year period. Viv and Ray still enjoy each other and have a healthy sex life. They make time for each other and for their relationship no matter who or what might need their attention, but not in a selfish way; they take care of everything and everyone that needs them first, then the sexy time.
If you are looking for hot sex, this isn’t your book. This is a deeply moving family portrait that makes you believe in miracles. Family Connections is proof that family doesn’t need to be born of your blood to be loved as if it were. It is evidence that love multiplies instead of wanes when more people are added to the equation.
Believe it or not, after 450 pages, there is more story to tell. With all those family members, there’s enough material for a few more books. There was a surprise right at the end that made me do a Scooby Doo head turn and a “Whaaaat?” There were enough loose ends to knit an afghan, and I can’t imagine where the sequel is going to take Viv and Ray, but I will be sure to read it as soon as it’s released to find out.