Book Reviews

Family Man by Heidi Cullinan and Marie Sexton at Dreamspinner Press

Genre Gay / Contemporary / Erotic Romance
Reviewed by Christy Duke on 11-September-2017

Book Blurb

Sometimes family chooses you.


At forty, Vincent “Vinnie” Fierro is still afraid to admit he might be gay—even to himself. It’ll be a problem for his big, fat Italian family. Still, after three failed marriages, it’s getting harder to ignore what he really wants.


Vinnie attempts some self-exploration in Chicago’s Boystown bars, far from anyone who knows him. Naturally, he runs smack into someone from the neighborhood.


Between working two jobs, going to school, taking care of his grandmother, and dealing with his mother’s ongoing substance abuse, Trey Giles has little time for fun, let alone dating someone who swears he’s straight. Yet after one night of dancing cheek-to-cheek, Trey agrees to let Vinnie court him and see if he truly belongs on this side of the fence—though Trey intends to keep his virginity intact.


It seems like a solid plan, but nothing is simple when family is involved. When Vinnie’s family finds out about their relationship, the situation is sticky enough, but when Trey’s mother goes critical, Vinnie and Trey must decide whose happiness is most important—their families’ or their own.




First Edition published by Samhain, 2013.

Book Review

The first time I read ‘Family Man’ I was blown away by the writing duo of Heidi Cullinan and Marie Sexton. When I discovered it was being rereleased, I jumped at the opportunity to officially review it, so I could sing its praises to the sky. For you see, I've never forgotten Vinnie, no matter how many times he pissed me off, and I've never stopped adoring Trey, for always being true to himself. So, here's to a heartwarming, definitely not easy, love story, with a brash Italian with more braggadocio than is healthy, and a young man with a lot of family secrets, and some serious trust issues.  

“It was stupid. Vince knew he wasn’t gay…… It had been too long since he’d given the old boy a ride, so long that answering a call for a gay married couple made him think for one idiot second this was his problem, why he had broken his mama’s heart with divorce number three. Maybe he was looking in the wrong pasture.”

I grew up in a large, noisy family, but that was only my immediate family. I can't begin to imagine Vinnie’s life where the entire extended family has always lived in the same area, a lot of them work for the family business, and nothing is ever private. Nothing. Luckily, he has one sister, Rachel, who he can talk to and she won't go running to the rest of the family. So he tells her his fears, that maybe he's gay, maybe that's why his three marriages didn't last, and Rachel listens, and then tells him he's never going to know unless he goes to a gay bar to see what's what.

He's about ready to leave the gay bar as, so far, he hasn't found anyone attractive, he feels old there, and the music is shit, when he's discovered by Trey. Twenty-five-year-old Trey, who lives at his grandma’s along with his mother, and he works two full-time jobs so he can take care of them and afford a class or two per semester. Trey isn't a virgin because he can't get laid, he's a virgin because he believes in his gram’s teaching that it should be about love. Trey grew up in the neighborhood and to some in Vinnie’s family, Trey and his gram are like family, and the Fierros take care of them. Now what does Vinnie do when a couple of hours dancing (to jazz) in a club in Boystown has him more turned on than he has ever been? Trey doesn't know what to make of his feelings either, but he isn't going to let Vince get away before they can explore them.

“Don’t you get it? What I wanted was so off the table I wouldn’t let myself even consider it. For thirty years.”

I love the friendship and the romance that builds between Trey and Vinnie. It takes a while but after hearing his cousin’s wife make a homophobic slur, Vinnie can finally admit to himself, and to Trey, that he has always been gay, but hid it so far down because he was scared of losing his family. He still is. But, hands down, when he comes out to his mother and she says, “Is that what you think of me?” she went on. “That I would turn you away, turn your lover away? You think the family would turn you away?”, I knew everything was going to be okay. I knew that Vinnie and Trey had lucked out in the huge, Italian Catholic family! In case anyone is wondering, I didn't touch on the family drama that Trey and his gram dealt with... had been dealing with. I think it's enough to say his mother is an alcoholic and the heartbreak of watching Trey deal with his pain and overwhelming (and, completely justifiable) anger at all the years of taking care of her, was very hard to watch.

I loved ‘Family Man’ more this second time around. I don't know whether it's because my knowledge of the gay romance genre has quadrupled since 2013, or because this is the kind of book that really is just that marvelous, and it needs to be reread in order to capture all the things about it that make it so wonderful. I love Vinnie, Trey, and all the fabulous secondary characters. Thank you, Heidi and Marie. I'll try not to wait so long before I reread it again.





DISCLAIMER: Books reviewed on this site were usually provided at no cost by the publisher or author. This book has been provided by Dreamspinner Press for the purpose of a review.

Additional Information

Format ebook, print and audio
Length Novel, 206 pages/67410 words
Heat Level
Publication Date 11-September-2017
Price $6.99 ebook, $14.99 paperback, $14.99 bundle, $19.95 audiobook
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