Wednesday, July 30, 2014

A Heart for Robbie by JP Barnaby

Title: A Heart for Robbie 
Author: JP Barnaby
My Rating: B

Genre: Contemporary Romance 
Series: -
Main Characters: Julian and Simon
Release Date: July 2014
Publisher: Dreamspinner
Links to Purchase:
Sexual Intensity: mild

Story Overview:
Waiting for someone else's child to die so yours can live is the worst kind of Hell

Celebrated Young Adult author Julian Holmes pits the heroic characters in his Black Heart series against all different kinds of monsters. But when a critical heart defect threatens his son’s life, he finds he has no champion. No amount of books, classes, or practice can prepare Julian for the fight to save his beautiful son’s life. 

Suddenly there are hospitals, transplant lists, and the nightmare of insurance red tape to navigate. In the midst of his trouble, Julian meets Simon Phelps, the insurance coordinator for Robbie’s case. Simon lives so deep in the closet he might never find his way out, but he dreams of exactly what Julian has. Then one night, drunken need and desperation brings them together, and a new fight begins.
My Review:
Something that you need to know going into reading this book... Yes, there is a romantic story line, but Robbie with his need for a heart and his father, Julian, are really the soul of this story.

Julian is a single, out and proud, gay man. He's also a best-selling YA author. His best friend, Erin, who is married with 4 kids of her own acted as a surrogate for him and Robbie was born. But when he was born, something was wrong with his heart. Without a transplant he won't live to see his first birthday. 

Simon is deeply in the closet. No one in his life knows that he's gay. He has an overbearing mother who tries at every turn to marry him off. He works as the insurance liaison at the hospital for a bigoted jerk who's never hidden the way he feels about homosexuals. He volunteers at a youth center that just sent a coach away from volunteering because it was revealed that he was gay. Simon is well aware that he would lose everything if he came out and find himself even more alone than he is now. But Julian sees Simon for what he is and Simon finds himself increasingly drawn to the troubled father...a huge no-no since his son is one of the patients at the hospital.

But the focus of the story is Robbie and how terrified Julian is that he has this wonderful new son, only to lose him to heart failure. Watching a child die is every parents nightmare and the book follows Julian through the up's and down's and medical emergencies that would haunt most parents for the rest of their lives. It's after one of those adrenaline, terrifying incidences that Julian and Simon find each other. 

It's a bittersweet story about the fragility of the bonds that tie us into our relationships. Without Robbie's medical problems, Julian and Simon would never have met and probably spent the rest of their lives unhappy and alone and unfulfilled. And both these men love Robbie desperately.

There was one part of the story that I absolutely LOVED. Julian is an author and his characters are so real, they are entities that travel with him through life, offering him advice and support. I love the way that he communicates continuously with them throughout the story. Those characters love and mourn with him over Robbie's status too. There were also little nuggets of GLBT fiction culture thrown in throughout the story with these imaginary characters. I'm sure I didn't catch all of them, but the ones I did made me smile.

This is a tough book because of the story, but it's beautiful. I never found it to be too much emotionally and I did enjoy getting to know Julian and Simon and Robbie and Clay and Liam. (I think I got the imaginary character names right, but I didn't check those...)

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