A brother and sister fight for the custody of their orphaned niece and nephew, in a sixth novel from Duberstein (The Handsome Sailor, 1998, etc.).
Tim Bannon, a small-town gay who’s settled in a big city, has sown some wild oats, but he’s mellowed with age and now seems to be a creature of steady habits. A travel agent in Boston, Tim has no steady boyfriend, but he dates discreetly and has never come out to his elderly mother (whom he still visits in his South Carolina hometown). With his job, apartment, friends, and annual vacation abroad, Tim is unused to big surprises—so he’s stunned one night to come home from a date and find a state trooper on his doorstep with his niece Cindy and nephew Billy in tow. Only hours earlier, Billy and Cindy’s parents had been killed in a car crash in New Hampshire, and Tim’s sister Jill had named him guardian in her will. Once the initial shock wears off, Tim and the children begin to work out a domestic routine of sorts, and the three start to take comfort from each other. But their happiness is short-lived: Tim’s surviving sister Erica and her loutish husband Earl file a petition for custody, arguing (falsely) that Tim has AIDS and that, as a homosexual, is unfit to raise children. Furious that he’s been outed to his mother (who doesn’t take the news very well), Tim hires a lawyer and goes to court. As is common in custody trials, it becomes clear that the children are being used as pawns in an ugly family drama largely made up of grudges and vengeance. Eventually, a solution plainly in the children’s best interest presents itself—but can all parties agree to put aside their spites?
Some good courtroom scenes, but otherwise sentimental and manipulative.