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Length: 219 pages
Cover Design: Reese Dante
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.
I typically don't like stories that have a small time frame but Eli Easton managed to make this book an exception.
Family Camp takes place mainly over a week - except for the last few chapters - and at first the MCs know nothing about each other. The story takes two perfect strangers and gives back a committed couple without leaving the reader feeling rushed.
Geo is a new foster parent to two kids down on their luck, twelve-year-old Jayden and five-year old Lucy. Jayden is mad at the world and keeps Geo at a distance so he won't get hurt when Geo unavoidably decides he's had enough of him and sends him back. Lucy got out of a neglect situation and that seems to have affected her emotional development as most of the time she seems to be distanced from the world and too much in her own head.
Travis is a pro baseball player with one last season in his career as he is considered old in the sport world at the age of 32. Add to that that his shoulder is giving him more trouble than usually and the possibility of another year playing is fading so he's trying to make his peace with the fact that this part of his life is over.
Travis had been in the foster system since he was a baby before he was adopted by the owners of the Evermore Camp and he has a soft spot for kids that go through the same things he did. There's a misunderstanding between Geo and Travis at the beginning regarding how longterm is Geo's fostering status but thankfully it was resolved quickly.
Geo and his kids visit the Camp for a week in an effort to bond as a family, at least that's what Geo hopes will happen. But Jayden isn't happy to be there and Lucy is only interested in her dolls.
All that doesn't last for very long after they arrive at the Camp and what follows is a week full of activities, new friends and family bonding. They learn new things about each other and they form a connection.
Travis is a big part of all those first positive steps the new family takes and, along with his dog, Max, they can't seem to stay away from Geo and his kids.
It was good to see Jayden leaving his skepticism behind and getting closer to Geo and Lucy stop being so attached to her dolls all the time. I think the dolls were a way to leave the world that had hurt her and form a connection with something. Once she met Max though she began to leave her dolls behind and interact with those around her more. Geo's reaction whenever there was the smallest breakthrough with either of his kids was one of the reasons I liked this book so much. He was pure happiness and barely able to contain it but at the same time he was trying not to make a big deal out of what happened in fear of getting a set back instead.
This story is sweet and emotional. It's heartbreaking and uplifting. It's about two kids getting a better future than what they thought it was ever possible to get. It's about a sweet, dorky and funny guy making his dream a reality no matter the obstacles he had to overcome. It's about an adult facing the fears the insecurities he had since he was a kid. "Family Camp" is a feel good story that will make you laugh and tear up at the same time but in the end it will leave you with a big smile and happy feelings.
** A free copy of this book was provided by the tour organizer in exchange for an honest review. **
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.
Find out more on her website.
You can also email her at eli[at]elieaston.com
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