When Geo signs up for Family Camp, he envisions nature hikes, s’mores, and a chance to win over his recalcitrant new foster kids, Jayden and Lucy. He’s tried to become a dad for so long, and he hopes the three of them can be the family he’s always wanted. What he doesn’t anticipate is the prickly and gorgeous camp counselor who constantly comes to his rescue.
Travis spends a week every year at Camp Evermore, the camp his adoptive parents own. As a pro baseball player, his presence guarantees a full campground and excited campers. He has one rule: never, ever mess around with anyone at camp. His profession demands he stay in the closet. But one sweet and funny new dad is about to test all his resolve.
Sparks fly for Geo and Travis, and not because of the nightly campfire. Having been a foster kid himself, Travis is drawn to Geo’s sincerity and big heart and to his kids. The four of them just fit. But will this be a summer romance? Or can they find a way to be a family long after Family Camp is over?
About the Daddy Dearest series
The Daddy Dearest series will consist of stand-alone contemporary novels focusing on single gay dads who find hot romance. Expect laughs, sweet and sexy slow-burn romance, and lots of family feels!
Sixth inning. Geo was ready for the game to be over. It was fucking hot on the ball field, all open and exposed, the sun baking down. And he was also not sure how much more Travis-watching he could take—him with his silky burgundy gym shorts and a sweaty Camp Evermore green shirt stretched over those muscles. His long legs were tanned and well-defined from hours at the gym.
Those thighs could fucking crack walnuts. Dude.
Damn, but that was one fine-looking man. Geo knew he should lay off, though. Travis had made himself clear.
Only he hadn’t. At all. One minute, Travis seemed into him him. He sought out Geo’s company, like the way he kept coming by the cabin at night. And the next minute, he’d put distance between them, ignoring Geo or closing himself off behind a granite-like expression and those eye-hiding shades. And Travis had laid a clear line in the sand. Not at camp. Not gonna happen.
Yup. That was fine. Sure, Geo hadn’t been mutually attracted to a guy that hot in ages. Or ever, really. But Geo hadn’t come to camp to fool around. He had other priorities.
It did make him wonder though. Bridget had said Travis wasn’t out. A quick Google search last night had confirmed that. In fact, Geo had been shocked to discover there’d never been an out baseball player in the major leagues. Like, in the history of American baseball. Which was tragic. No wonder Travis was in the closet. It had to suck monkey balls living like that. Especially with all the women who threw themselves at him constantly. There were a dozen women on the sidelines right now that looked ready to have his babies. That had to be weird for a gay guy. Didn’t it?
Geo himself was always super uncomfortable when women came on to him. He felt compelled to blurt out “I’m gay!” in the first five minutes. It was just too weird otherwise.
Then again, Travis’s love life was none of Geo’s business. Maybe the guy was bisexual. Maybe he liked dating women just fine.
Jayden came up to bat. Geo focused on his son, clapping hard. “Come on, Jayden! You’ve got this!”
Jayden took a wide stance beside the plate, both hands gripping the bat, choked up a little. Travis had spent a few minutes with Jayden at the start of the game, showing him how to stand, and Jayden copied him exactly. The kid was a great mimic. He’d been nervous at first, tense and defensive. But by now he just looked focused. He stared, narrow-eyed, at Frank as Frank pitched an easy ball.
Geo loved that about this game, that everyone tried to give the kids easy wins, and no one took the competition seriously.
Jayden hit the ball hard. It flew through the air a short ways then plonked to the ground and skipped along fast. It was heading right down the center line, though a bit more towards third base and Travis’s side of the field.
“Go Jayden! Go!” Geo shouted. He went after the ball. In his peripheral vision, he saw Jayden round first base and keep running.
Travis was going after the ball too, dodging low. He scooped it up. He was going to throw it to third base, keep Jayden back on second. Geo couldn’t let that happen.
He dove in front of Travis, crowding him, holding an arm out to block Travis from throwing the ball.
Travis snorted, bemused. “What are you doing? You’re on my team.” He backed up, trying to get away from Geo.
“Blood before bros, man,” Geo said with fake seriousness. He kept up with Travis, step for step, grabbing Travis’s right arm in a firm grip so he couldn’t raise the ball.
“Stop it!” Travis laughed. “Dork. That’s not legal.”
They took three steps back, like they were dancing. Geo held Travis’s right arm, staring him down. Travis met his gaze, a goofy smile on his lips. Back and back they stumbled. Suddenly, Travis got a sparkle in his eyes. He wrapped his left arm around Geo’s waist and picked him up, swinging him around so he ended up behind Travis.
Geo was still finding his feet as Travis drew back his arm and sent the ball sailing.
Right to home plate. But Jayden got there first. Umpire Cindy made the motion with her hands, safe.
Geo laughed and raised his arms in triumph. “Yeah, baby! Great job, Jayden! Home run, whoo!”
Then he realized everyone was staring at them. On the sidelines, there were a dozen cameras raised, filming.
Oh. Er. Hmm. Geo wiped his face, feeling sheepish.
That’s when a piercing scream rent the air.
This isn’t the first book I’ve read or reviewed from this author. I always know when I’m going in that I am getting a really good romance and a good story. Family Camp is a sweet romance featuring a closeted baseball player and a man newly fostering two children. When they first meet, Geo is stranded on the side of the road and Travis stops to help. Geo doesn’t know who Travis is, and they don’t know that they are actually on the road to the same place, but there is some mutual attraction going on. Travis kind of admires Geo being a former foster kid himself.
I discovered something personal about myself and during the scene where Geo and Travis met, and I found it very interesting. Geo says that he is fostering Jayden and Lucy “for now,” and I immediately glommed on to the idea that he wanted to adopt them. Granted I had already been in his head thanks to the author, but I think I’m inclined to think the best about people. Travis automatically believed that Geo was going to be returning them to the system. I thought, “why so cynical, Travis?” And then I realized that I do come from a place of privilege that I was always loved by my family. While Travis did eventually find family, he doesn’t have that inborn trust. I thought that said a lot about the author’s ability to get into the head of her characters.
So fast forward, Geo makes it to camp and realizes that Travis is there, his family runs the camp, and that Travis is somewhat famous. Not to mention that Travis is quite cold towards him. Still, activities throw the two men together, and Travis sees so much of himself in Geo’s son Jayden. Some advice leads Travis to seek the truth instead of seeing through his jaded eyes. There is just something about the struggling dad that makes him want to get closer, but he won’t come out to his family or his sport, so sometimes it seems a little hopeless.
I don’t want to give away the catalyst that makes way for their happy ending, but I just really enjoyed Travis and Geo together. Travis was super warm to Geo’s kids, and Geo was just a super fun guy who wants so much to create a family. You might think it could be too much sweetness, but it wasn’t. The kids are great characters. Jayden is old enough to see his dad’s attraction to Travis and approves. He had a little trouble warming up but once he did, I thought he was such a good kid. Lucy has more issues from her past, and speaks very little. I feel like her character really showed off the compassion that both Geo and Travis had. And later in a glimpse of the future we see how the family that Geo did put together really helped her. I don’t want to end this without mentioning how spectacular Travis’s family is. Not only the way that they took in foster kids and raised their own kids with unconditional love but the way they share that with other families.
I know this series is called Daddy Dearest, so I have the feeling the future books will involve dads. I will miss the setting that this book took place in, and would love it if future books did visit it again. I look forward to seeing what other situations that the author creates involving men interested in families and romance, too. I definitely recommend this book for a feel good read.
10/10 Pots of Gold (100% Recommended) – Compares to 5/5 Stars
Having been, at various times and under different names, a minister’s daughter, a computer programmer, a game designer, the author of paranormal mysteries, a fan fiction writer, and organic farmer, Eli has been a m/m romance author since 2013. She has over 30 books published.
Eli has loved romance since her teens and she particular admires writers who can combine literary merit, genuine humor, melting hotness, and eye-dabbing sweetness into one story. She promises to strive to achieve most of that most of the time. She currently lives on a farm in Pennsylvania with her husband, bulldogs, cows, a cat, and lots of groundhogs.
In romance, Eli is best known for her Christmas stories because she’s a total Christmas sap. These include “Blame it on the Mistletoe”, “Unwrapping Hank” and “Merry Christmas, Mr. Miggles”. Her “Howl at the Moon” series of paranormal romances featuring the town of Mad Creek and its dog shifters has been popular with readers. And her series of Amish-themed romances, Men of Lancaster County, has won genre awards.
Her website is www.elieaston.com
You can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org
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