First Steps by Sean Michael

STEPS
First Steps by Sean Michael
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (104 pgs)
Other: M/M, Anal Play
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Fern

Abandoned by his partner in the wilds of Alaska, Peter is pretty much at the end of his rope. He has a cabin falling down around his ears, two young babies to care for, and too much alone time to think about his situation. It’s enough to make a man rethink wanting to be a dad.

Park Ranger Chad thinks Peter could use some help, especially when fire and weather warnings make him wonder if Peter’s little cabin is going to make it through the year. When he takes Peter and the babies in, he finds out that the attraction the two of them felt on their first meeting has the potential to be a lot more. Can he convince Peter that they can do more than keep each other warm?

Single dad Peter has a steep learning curve with twin babies Ellen and Daniel. Chad is the local ranger and more than a little socially rusty. But Peter and Chad hit it off instantly, and both enjoy the other’s company. Chad is excellent with the babies, and Peter hasn’t had such interesting and varied conversations in forever. The fact they’re both a little lonely in the large Alaskan forest only adds spice to their friendship. But everyone struggles with those first steps, both the babies needing theirs, and Chad and Peter taking the first wobbly steps in their new relationship.

I found this to be a warm and romantic M/M. I really loved how the babies weren’t just some token secondary characters, brought out at the start and end but largely sidelined for Chad and Peter’s growing relationship. Both Ellen and Daniel were front and center throughout the whole story and pivotal at many points. So often characters (or pets!) that are introduced as important are pushed back when the relationship/erotic moments start to heat up. I really enjoyed how the author balanced the babies with Peter and his growing relationship with Chad. I felt the balance was well written and still believable.

I was a little surprised at how fast the relationship grew serious between Chad and Peter. Even after careful thought I can’t put my finger on why I felt they became too close too quickly, but that was the feeling I ended up with while reading. It just didn’t seem too realistic that after just a few meetings Peter and the babies would be moving in with Chad. There were plenty of external reasons – their cabin, the changing weather, and other factors – but somehow it just seemed a little too fast for a new dad to move in with his brand new lover and his two babies. It didn’t quite gel with me. That said, the chemistry and deep emotions between Chad and Peter really did read as real and serious, I found myself completely besotted with both men and emotionally attached to their relationship.

I also really enjoyed how we got to see not just the start of Chad and Peter’s relationship, but how the author took us through almost their entire first year. While they became serious very fast, I loved seeing how they continued to flourish and grow together as their bond became stronger and as the twins started to grow up into toddlers. This is a lovely and emotional story of a family coming together and growing into a strong, secure unit. There is nothing I found particularly envelope pushing in it, I think this story will appeal to a wide range of readers and is an excellent, romantic and erotic story. I’d strongly recommend it for all readers of M/M and even those who prefer an older-style, more sensual and character-driven storyline. Chad and Peter’s characters stayed with me long after finishing it and I know it will go onto my keeper shelf and be reread many times in the future. A strong, romantic and emotional story I can heartily recommend for everyone.

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