Monday, May 8, 2017

Release Day Review ~ Happily Ever After Isn't Easy by Jake C. Wallace

Release Day Review ~ Happily Ever After Isn't Easy by Jake C. Wallace 

Title: Happily Ever After Isn't Easy
Author: Jake C. Wallace
Release Date: May 8, 2017
Category: Contemporary
Pages: 200

How do you start a new life when your old one won’t let go?
Freed from a marriage he entered because he feared coming out to his judgmental family, Gabe Reynolds feels his life is just starting—at forty-three. But what was supposed to be exciting and wonderful has been nothing but disappointing. The man he’s loved since they were teens broke his heart—again. Gabe has no clue how to meet men who are looking for more than one night, much less date them. Add to that his job as a mental health counselor, helping to keep his mentally ill ex-wife stable, and caring for children that belong to another man, and he has little time to look for Mr. Right.
Just as Gabe is giving up, Brandt Sawyer, with his hard body and gorgeous eyes, crashes into Gabe’s life. Brandt pushes all Gabe’s buttons—though he could do without the younger man’s know-it-all attitude. Gabe never thought he could be so torn between wanting to punch a man and wanting to kiss him. Yet, as he gets to know Brandt, Gabe sees past the military-programmed ex-soldier and catches a glimpse of what could be his happily ever after.
But with a troubled ex and young children involved, Gabe can’t just walk away from his past. Guilt is tearing him in every direction—maybe even away from the man he’s falling in love with.

*Copy provided to Bayou Book Junkie by Dreamspinner Press for my reading pleasure in hopes of an unbiased opinion, a review was not a requirement.*

Happily Ever After Isn't Easy is told from Gabe Reynolds' POV. Gabe is a man in his forties, who is starting life all over. Gabe is a mental health therapist, which honestly took me by surprise when I was found out. He's very down, sad, gloomy, and made me think of Eeyore when first introduced to him. Gabe was afraid to come out of the closet as a teenager and when he got to college latched on to the first woman to show any interest in him. They married and lived a life more as roommates than a couple. After twenty years of marriage, his wife ended up pregnant by another man and Gabe found himself finally able to admit that he was gay and started living his life. Only his life isn't turning out to be all love and happily ever after, plus he's still taking care of his mentally ill ex-wife. He's finally decided he's never going to find love, and he might as well just do his job, help his ex-wife and love her kids since he'll never have his own family. Until the day one of his high school clients is in his office because of issues with a substitute gym teacher, and Gabe goes to confront him.

Brandt Sawyer is a military man through every part of his being. He has no interest in softening his stance for anyone and has the mindset that the students, and Gabe, should "man-up" and toughen up. But, as unbending as Brandt appears to be, he does have the best interest of the kids he teaches and is willing to listen to others. Because we didn't get Brandt's POV, it's hard to really know his character like you do Gabe's. But, Brandt is the complete opposite of Gabe and able to help him move on from his gloom and doom mindset. Brandt is understanding with Gabe's relationship with his ex-wife and is willing to hang out and play with the kids. Brandt and Gabe do have the desire of having a family in common. Both men are looking to settle down and once they open up to each other about that, it helps move toward a common goal.

I struggled to like Gabe's character. Sure, he was a good guy but it really came across as martyrdom instead of just being a nice guy that lets people walk all over him. He was at his ex-wife's beck and call. He took care of the children she had from cheating on him. He reminded her to take her medicine. He talked to her therapist. He talked to her current husband when things got bad. I didn't understand why he continued to guilt himself over their failed marriage. I didn't feel like he was emotionally in a place to be in a relationship until he got himself and his life together. Heck, at many times I thought he should consider seeking a therapist himself to help him through his emotions. That is not what happened, but after a tragedy, he and Brandt did find their HEA. I did like that this story was about two adult males, not kids in their 20's.

Rating: 3.5 stars

3 Stars!

What I Loved: Two adorable preschoolers who might not have had much page time but were very important to the story. What can I say, I'm a sucker for stories with kids. I'm an even bigger sucker for men with children, especially young children.

The writing was well done and the premise of the story was very interesting. I like the idea of two very different men falling in love and navigating life together.

What I Liked: I liked both Gabe and Brandt, they were good guys even if they got off to a rocky start at first. There wasn't a whole lot of angst in the story and their relationship was pretty solid from beginning to end. I also liked that these men were older, especially Gabe who was in his forties.

What I Didn't Like: as much as i hate to say it, this story was very blah. While yes, things happen, dramatic and what should be emotionally charged situations, nothing ever really jumped out at me. It was all very mundane.

The relationship between the men was sweet, yes, but it didn't melt my heart. There's an ex-boyfriend which could have caused some drama but didn't. The men clashed in the beginning but it didn't last more than a few pages. The ex-wife and Gabe's relationship with her and her family, which the story really focused on, again was just kind of told to us. The story seemed, in my opinion, to lack feeling. I couldn't connect with it or the characters.

In the end, this one is just okay. I probably wouldn't recommend it but I can't say some might not enjoy it either.

*Copy provided to Bayou Book Junkie by Dreamspinner Press for my reading pleasure in hopes of an unbiased opinion, a review was not a requirement.*

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