Author: Liam Grey
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Pages/Word Count: 96
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Blurb: Christmas brings dreams of peace, love, and family time for most. Sadly, Russell Moore isn’t so blessed. Since his coming out and marriage prompted a less-than-joyful reaction from his religious parents, Russ has kept his distance to avoid their conservative disapproval. With his husband David deployed overseas for the second Christmas in a row, Russ gives in to the loneliness and takes his stepchildren to meet his parents for the first time, hoping the “goodwill toward men” spirit will overcome his mother’s zealotry.
But Russ’s Christmas joy is too quickly deflated by his mother’s unmet expectations, leaving Russ to ponder if peace, love, and perhaps matricide go hand in hand.
Review: Liam Grey is a new to me author, and I had a bit of a hard time trying to decide on how to talk about this story. While I enjoyed this book, I had a few issues, not the least of which were personal in nature. Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoyed the story; however, I know people like the characters in this story, but they frustrated me to no end. This was a good thing in the end, though, because it made the story real. One thing I didn’t like, though, was that the beginning wasn’t smooth. It felt as if you were dropped down in the middle of a scene with no explanation of how or why you were there, and I don’t know if it was intentional or not, but it made the first bit of the book an awkward read.
It wasn’t until the third chapter or so that things started to smooth out, and the backstory comes about, finally setting the stage for the plot. Which, other than what I mentioned, was absolutely fantastic. Grey’s writing is crisp and to the point, all the emotions are there and slap you in the face. One thing I loved about this story was just how real it was. The ebook itself was neatly edited, too, and despite the rough start, I did like the story. Hence my conflict.
Not all families are accepting of people living outside the norm, and Russ is doing that. He’s the oldest son, gay, and married to a man who once had a relationship with a woman. This same husband also has kids from said first relationship, and Russ is now their papa.
Russ’s mother is a devoutly religious person and honestly, I wanted to strangle both her and Russ at times. Personally,] I don’t understand how he put up with her. I wouldn’t have. I hate to say it, but if your family gives you that much grief and stresses you out so badly that you lock yourself away from them, then it really isn’t worth revisiting the ties.
Russ is forty-two years old in this story, and yet Doris, his mother, treats him as if he’s barely twenty and a horrible parent. However, the exact opposite is true for reasons that slowly come out. And they are doozies of reasons, too.
Russ was estranged from his parents but in a fit of loneliness, takes his children to see his parents for Christmas. The children, Austin, a five year old with Asperger’s, and Emily, a ten year old with almost genius like intelligence, are Russ and Davis’s pride and joy. David is in the Army and has been deployed for the past two years, so Russ has been making do as a single parent.
Doris undermines everything Russ does, not only upsetting the family gathered for Christmas, but estranging herself even more from the grandchildren she supposedly wants and yearns to love.
I was ready to put this down just because of Doris, but in all honesty, I finished it because the story of Russ and David had me hooked. I had to find out what happened when David showed up unexpectedly and surprised them all on Christmas morning.
Nothing good, it turns out. Seems like David is having issues with being home from the service and war, and Doris zeroes in on this, adding to the conflict. At this point, I seriously hated the woman. Russ finally has enough and takes his overburdened family away from the bitch who claims to be his loving mother. Russ’ father finally puts his foot down, extremely lightly in my opinion, on Doris, but not until after the damage has been done.
One hundred and eighty degree turn when we meet David’s parents. They support their son and his choices, despite being worried about how he has chosen to live his life. It happened so fast it made my head spin, but it was good to see that after the conflict at Russ’s childhood home, there was someplace that everyone felt comfortable enough to be themselves.
I’d like to read more from Grey because I did like his style in spite of the choppiness in this story. Thank you to the author for a book that really made me think and feel, as a good book should.
You can buy It’s Christmas Everywhere but Here here: