Title: Night of the Living Manny
Series: Dreamspun Beyond
Author: Julia Talbot
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Length: 210 Pages
At a Glance: Considering that this is more of a romance story than a zombie story, it’s not too bad. It could’ve been a lot better, though, and there were some things that I wish the author had fixed before publishing it.
Reviewed By: Kel
Blurb: Something besides love is growing….
Manny Brenden Torrance is good at his job. He’s dealt with all sorts of children and parents, but he’s never met anyone as intriguing as Liam Whitehouse. Liam is a scientist with three kids, whose job is keeping him away from home more and more. That’s where Brenden steps in to help.
Liam has secrets, though. He’s working on a project for a pharmaceutical lab that could change disease management. Or destroy it. While he and Brenden start a romance they both want to continue, things at Liam’s job come to a head, and suddenly the whole family of Dad, manny, three kids, and a big drooly dog is on the run from the one thing that might keep Brenden and Liam apart. And infect the world.
Review: Ok, I have to admit I wasn’t sure what to expect from this book. I love zombie stories, can’t get enough of them, but knowing this was a zombie book about a manny? I wasn’t sure what to think of that, but I was intrigued enough to want to check it out.
We first meet Brenden Torrance after he’s finished a job and is trying to relax with his dog, Moose. Brenden is a manny, a man nanny, and loves working with kids. I found myself really liking Brenden, who’s willing to give up his break between jobs to help a family in need. He’s a kind, friendly, and fun person who gets along great with kids and wants to see them excel under his care. Meeting the Whitehouse family, he can see that they desperately need his help and he’s willing to lend a hand.
Liam is a scientist at his wits end. He’s recently lost his wife and is swamped at work, but isn’t able to handle both at the same time and asks Brenden to help. The kids, Susanne at sixteen, Peter at eleven, and Brittany at eight, of course don’t want someone watching them, but Liam gives them no choice. You feel bad for Liam, trying to keep his family and his sanity together while trying to deal with things at work that aren’t going well.
Liam and Brenden are decent characters but at the same time, they almost seem lacking. They’re not given a lot of development, and their actions sometimes contradict themselves as the story goes along. I do think they’re cute together, and I did want to see them together, but I wasn’t as invested as I would have been if the characters had more meat to them. We’re also not given much of a backstory for either of them. We get some for Liam but other than Brenden being a manny and a few things about his past, we don’t really find out much about him. It would’ve been nice to have learned more about them so you’d care about what happens to them. The kids are treated the same way; we only get some surface background about them. Everyone almost feels one-dimensional.
The romance in the story is cute. Liam and Brenden are attracted to each other instantly but do try to keep it professional between them. It doesn’t last, of course, but they do take things slow which is a nice change. They flirt with each other and make out some, but it’s not until later in the story that there’s anything more physical between them. Then again, there’s not a lot of time for them to get to know each other better before things go bad and suddenly we’ve gone from a cute romance story to a zombie story. Sort of.
Unfortunately, this is when the story seems to get weak. The zombies, which aren’t really zombies, are almost a non-issue. The group only runs into them a few times during their escape and while the family is supposed to have been prepared for some kind of disaster, they seem to make some pretty stupid mistakes. We’re also told, repeatedly, that Susanne is sixteen and tough, but then she’s not, and it just gets tiresome. We get it, you only have to tell us a few times. Liam also gets repetitive. We constantly hear his thoughts about how it’s not fair the kids have had to learn certain things or that they lost their mother, how work is going badly, how he doesn’t trust the army/government. Which is another sticking point. Liam doesn’t trust the army, and it seems justified when they capture him, but within a day he’s willing to work with them and trusts them to keep him and his family safe. It was such an about-face that I wasn’t sure if he was sincere or just trying to find a way to escape back to his family.
But, considering that this is more of a romance story than a zombie story, it’s not too bad. It could’ve been a lot better, though, and there were some things that I wish the author had fixed before publishing it. Liam and Brenden are cute together; the kids could’ve used some more work; I would’ve loved more of a backstory for Brenden and Liam, and the whole group does some pretty stupid things. In the end, though, I’m glad that Liam and Brenden get back together and that the whole family is safe.
You can buy Night of the Living Manny here:
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