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J.M. Kelley

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Drew In Blue
by J.M. Kelley   

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Category: 

Romance

Publisher:  Lazy Day Publishing ISBN-10:  1612580092
Pages: 

364

Copyright:  2011 ISBN-13:  9781612580098

Drew Doyle’s done a lot of stupid things in his life, but the biggest mistake by far was not paying attention to that 2% failure rate listed on the back of the condom box.

Drew In Blue is the story of a thirty-six year old loner unexpectedly saddled with the task of raising a baby while trying to sort out his mess of a life. Problem is, he just keeps making things worse for himself. It’s a running theme in Drew’s life, considering he never does anything the easy way. The River’s View, Pennsylvania gossip mill is watching each misstep as Drew juggles a price-gouging babysitter, a major case of artist’s block, and a best friend with an opinion to share on every bungled choice he makes.

Drew’s love life isn’t faring much better. Despite a long history of relationships that never really get off the ground, he falls head over heels for someone new, hoping that she might be the one to end his romantic bad luck streak. After a few abysmally bad false starts, things finally start looking up for Drew. That is, until he finds out (the hard way, naturally) that this new love interest isn’t the one for him after all. Turns out, it’s actually lifelong pal, and high school girlfriend, Kristina Moser.

Drew’s feelings for Kris intensify as he witnesses her growing bond with his son, and he finally realizes where he belongs. Now all he has to do is convince Kris he’s right… and she’s just not buying it.

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Drew In Blue is the story of a thirty-six year old loner unexpectedly saddled with the task of raising a baby while trying to sort out his mess of a life. Problem is, he just keeps making things worse for himself. It’s a running theme in Drew’s life, considering he never does anything the easy way. The River’s View, Pennsylvania gossip mill is watching each misstep as Drew juggles a price-gouging babysitter, a major case of artist’s block, and a best friend with an opinion to share on every bungled choice he makes. 
 
Drew’s love life isn’t faring much better. Despite a long history of relationships that never really get off the ground, he falls head over heels for someone new, hoping that she might be the one to end his romantic bad luck streak. After a few abysmally bad false starts, things finally start looking up for Drew. That is, until he finds out (the hard way, naturally) that this new love interest isn’t the one for him after all. Turns out, it’s actually lifelong pal, and high school girlfriend, Kristina Moser.

Drew’s feelings for Kris intensify as he witnesses her growing bond with his son, and he finally realizes where he belongs. Now all he has to do is convince Kris he’s right… and she’s just not buying it.


Excerpt

Abandoned by his mother and delivered into the arms of the father who deserted him first – the world carried an awfully big grudge against such a little guy.

“Kid, you’ve got rotten luck,” I said. I squatted next to the car seat he occupied, my knees cracking on the way down like trampled twigs. The baby’s cries intensified when I reached out my hand to tentatively stroke one of the clenched fists shaking with the force of his fury.

Tears fought their way past eyelids he’d squeezed shut. They snaked down his sallow cheeks, pausing at the corners of his open mouth before continuing on and disappearing beneath his quivering chin.

I glanced over my shoulder when I heard a screen door slap against its wooden frame. My next-door neighbor stepped out onto his porch and placed his hands on his hips before turning in my direction. It was late, and the residents of my street, mostly retirees, expected quiet nights. I couldn’t see his face, but it didn’t matter – nobody else was around to earn the annoyance his posture projected. Instead of acknowledging his presence and my obvious role in disturbing the peace, I turned back to the caterwauling baby before me.

This was my son. Nicholas Embry Doyle. Illegitimate offspring of me, Drew Doyle, and Allison Embry – the woman who’d, just moments before, dumped him on me before speeding off in a car driven by a man with so many tattoos and piercings that my initial theory of her running off to join the circus carried some serious merit.

“I don’t want it,” she said when she thrust the handle of the car seat into my hands and dropped a bag of the baby’s belongings to the porch steps. “I can’t deal with it. I don’t want it. Take it.” As if he was a thing. An object. Not her own child.

Allison’s dark hair stuck out in frizzed clumps and her eyes darted from side to side. She stood rigid and trembling, like a caged animal. In the shadowed confines of my porch, her dilated pupils, black voids obscuring any hint of the usual pale blue, amplified her feral appearance. I suspected she’d been smoking pot or something more potent. She’d never taken drugs in front of me, but I’d taken note of the sweet, pungent odor of marijuana clinging to the furniture in her apartment in the few instances I’d been there. I didn’t question her about it.

It’s not like what she did ever mattered to me, anyway. We weren’t exactly close. I met her in a bar over in Finchesburg. The town is about a half hour’s drive due east from my hometown of River’s View, Pennsylvania – a veritable wasteland of German heritage and backwoods Appalachian dimwittedness.

Allison and I did the deed a few times and moved on. When she called me two months later, I couldn’t place her voice. When she told me she’d taken a pregnancy test and the results were positive, I’d wished I’d never met her.

Turns out the ninety-eight percent efficiency rate on the back of the condom box isn’t the number you need to be paying attention to – it’s that two percent failure rate that bites you in the ass when you least expect it.

“You look like hell,” I said to Nicholas, fumbling with the complicated latch holding him in his seat.

At the age of … what, four months old? He was too small. I pictured babies with round, apple-red cheeks and pot bellies. Nicholas may as well have been constructed of toothpicks. After a brief struggle to extricate him from the car seat, I was caught off guard by his slight, scrawny frame. I’d lifted heavier bags of marshmallows in my life.

This wasn’t our first meeting. Allison had called when the baby was born, and I visited them in the hospital. He was gaunt then, too. She’d handed the swaddled bundle of wrinkled, purplish-colored infant to me, and I stared at him while he screamed and writhed. His head wobbled when I tried to position him in my arms, and I nearly dropped him to the floor. Something about that egregious error had made it okay to write out a check right before I walked out of their lives.

He deserved better than me. She was supposed to have given him better.

I rested the baby on my shoulder and offered him an awkward pat on the back. Beneath his dirty t-shirt, the bony protrusions I encountered when I strummed my fingers down his torso elicited a shudder.

“Shit.” I collapsed to the porch, my shaking knees too weak to support my own weight any longer. The gravity of the situation finally hit me, like a bullet between the eyes. “I’m sorry,” I whispered. His cries diminished and he whimpered into my neck, exhaustion gaining the upper hand.

This was the kid I’d left behind. The kid I didn’t want to complicate my life. And I’d left him in the care of a woman I barely knew, assuming she’d do the work in my place.

She didn’t. One glance at the kid was all the proof I needed.

My stomach gurgled. Nicholas lifted his teetering head and stared at me, confused by the wet, menacing growls coming from within me. He either lost interest or used up too much energy and collapsed against my shoulder. I barely had time to deposit him back in the car seat before I had to scramble to the porch railing and empty the contents of my stomach into the bushes below.




Professional Reviews

The Romance Reviews
I adore this book. So much so that I read it twice before sitting down to write this review. Simply put, it has it all—a well-structured plot, a beautifully detailed setting, a winning supporting cast, and at its heart, a unique and beautiful love story.

Drew Doyle has no desire to be a parent, and no trust in his paternal instincts. Having grown up in a series of foster homes following his mother's sudden death, he has never had a good model for how to raise and nurture a child. Which isn't a problem—until he finds himself with a son. Following an unplanned pregnancy, his ex-girlfriend leaves four-week-old Nick on Drew's doorstep and drives away. Seeing another little boy who has been abandoned by his mother, Drew vows to care for the baby, even though he has no clue where to begin. In desperation, he turns to his best friend, Kristina Moser, a fellow artist, his first love, and best friend for advice and support, relying on her to bring a sense of normalcy back into his life.

But Nick's arrival changes everything. Drew no longer has the luxury of thinking only of himself. His time and his future are now tied up in Nick—and any potential relationship Drew might pursue has to be with someone who is willing to take on the role of mother as well as partner. He sets out to find the perfect woman to fill the role, but eventually comes to realize that the person he has been looking for might be the one who's been there all along…

The relationship between Kris and Drew is brilliantly written. They are close enough to be honest with each other, even with some very painful subjects. They understand each other—sometimes even better than they understand themselves, and love each other even though they are completely aware of their shortcomings and weaknesses. In Drew's narrative, there was something that felt off, or lonely somehow, when he was alone with Nick or dealing with other characters. When Kris is around and part of his life, however, there is a sense of completion about both characters that is magical to read. When they finally do come together, it makes for one of the best scenes I've read in a very long time.

But Drew and Kris are not the only love story in this book. This is also the story of Drew and his son Nick. And, again, the story of these two lonely characters feels wonderfully honest. Here, there is the awkwardness of a new relationship, the overwhelming fear of failure and the humor of the unexpected. Also, for Drew, there is the need to learn how to deal with the loss of his mother and his own role in Nick's life. At a critical moment in the story, Drew finds a letter that his mother wrote to him when he was a baby that sheds light on the person she was and all that life could have been for them together. While the scene itself is absolutely heart wrenching, it leads Drew to want to get to know his son--to cherish him as well as care for him. And from there, it only gets better. Watching the bond between dad and son grow is a complete joy, and as fulfilling as the scenes between Drew and Kris.

I loved the fact that this book was told from Drew's point of view. It was fascinating to get in the head of the man in the story and see the world through his eyes. It's a perspective that I haven't seen in many romance books, and one I certainly haven't seen done so well in a very long time. Drew manages to be strong, capable and still vulnerable, and reading his story as he tells it was refreshing and really moving. His revelations about child rearing are both hysterically funny and hauntingly emotional, and the way he describes his love for Kris made my heart skip a beat.

As I said before, I love this book. It made me laugh and made me cry, which is something that almost never happens. I fell in love with Drew, Kris and Nick from the start and couldn't put the story down until I had made the entire journey with them. The story felt so real and so honest, and was told with such genuine feeling and love that, to be honest, I can't wait to read it again!


Night Owl Romance
Drew in Blue was an amazing story. I really loved it. Drew is a great guy with good intentions; it just doesn't work out for him always. His son means so much to him and so does his best friend. Family is everything though he is never sure how to deal with it. He grew up in foster homes and so he never really had a family, except for Kris. Kris loves Drew and the friendship that they have and she doesn't want to ruin it. Drew wants a mother for his son and so he begins dating Val. But Val is not right for him or his son. His true love has been staring him in the face for years and years. It took his son coming into his life and coming to terms with his mom's death for him to realize it. This story is very emotional and heartwarming. I did not want the story to end; I wanted to continue to follow the characters that I grew attached to. I wish that there had been more of Drew and Kris in their dating relationship but the story had a happy ending that I really enjoyed. I definitely recommend this book.

Booking It
Drew suddenly found himself a father when a one night stand showed up on his doorstep leaving a wailing infant, Nick, in his arms. Clueless and scared to death, he calls his best friend, Kristina. She helps Drew get on his feet to take care of Nick, but Drew knows that his life has changed forever. Having been orphaned at eight, Drew is a complex character with logical motivations for his actions. Since Drew in Blue is told in his perspective, the reader understands him completely and is able to see inside of his deepest thoughts. At first, Drew is awkward and not very likable, but he grows as a character when he must man-up to take care of his son, Nick. By raising Nick, Drew learns about himself and discovers what is important about his changing priorities.

The relationship between Drew and his best friend Kris is intriguing. Their past influences their current friendship and they truly are inseparable. I loved Kris and adored watching her interactions with Drew.

Many books that are strongly character driven usually have trouble maintaining focus throughout the story. Luckily, Drew’s story flows seamlessly and the pacing remains constant. The plot is Drew’s life and revolves around his difficulty being a single father as well as his coming to grips with his past. The story is executed perfectly and I was transported into the book and totally engrossed. I found myself completely emotionally engaged in this book.

Drew in Blue is compelling, emotional, and probably one of the best character studies I have read. Definitely not to be missed!


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