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When his snobbish future in-laws travel all the way from Boston to visit, wise-cracking Southerner Wiley Cantrell learns that gay marriage is not without its disadvantages. Occupied by concerns over the health of his special needs son Noah, a meth baby who was not expected to live and who is now on the cusp of puberty, the antics of Wiley’s outrageous would-be mother-in-law and severely conservative father-in-law strain his relationship with Jackson Ledbetter, a pediatric nurse who poses problems of his own. As their respective families meet and greet, each just as meddlesome and inflexible as the other, North meets South and the fireworks and cultural misunderstandings are plenty.
A tornado blows through the small Mississippi town where Wiley’s mother lives, wrecking his mother’s house and leaving their lives in disarray. Then Jackson’s secret drug addiction comes to light, and Wiley and Noah are devastated. With so many stones in the road, Wiley and Jackson find their dream of becoming a real family falling apart. Though Wiley relies on humor to cope, he’ll need something more to keep his happily ever after from slipping away.
The first book of this series, “Shaking the Sugar Tree”, had a profound effect on me. It was listed as “humor”, and it definitely had some funny parts. But, it was very emotional and the characters of Wiley Cantrell and his son Noah burrowed their way into my heart and my mind and I couldn’t get free of them. So, it was with great anticipation, and a tiny bit of fear, that I tackled book 2.
“Stones in the Road” lived up to it’s predecessor with continued humor, the inspiration to live life the best one can, and Wiley and Noah were no less lovable…possibly even more so. Again, I found myself sobbing throughout the book and went back to read the Noah bits because I love him so.
We start the book with Wiley and Jackson engaged to be married. And Noah now having 2 dads to love and help raise him. The kid is just…gawwww…too much. So freaking adorable and fun and steals the show. But Wiley & Jackson go through some of their own struggles & uncertainties…and it was HARD to read. I was SCARED that Wiley wasn’t gonna get his HEA. And he deserves it!
Wiley’s crazy southern family make a return appearance and they are no easier to like than in book 1. But, I was used to them by now. Didn’t make me want to punch some of ’em any less. But here’s where book 2 kinda takes it over-the-top for me…the visit from Jackson’s parents from Boston. They’re snooty. They’re condescending. And they’re just plain cruel. His mom, especially, really…I get disapproval. I even get disdain. But she was straight up hate-spewing. And where Wiley’s family was similar in book 1, it felt a bit more of a cultural revelation to how things are in the South. With Jackson’s parents, it just felt…ABUSIVE. And it didn’t make me uncomfortable so much as it made me MAD.
I think the book would have lost me if it was this one-dimensional. But the author layers so many other challenges and emotions and lessons on top of it that I got past my anger and let the story and the characters have their way with me again. And yes, lots and lots of tears.
I don’t know if there will be another book, but if not, man will I miss Wiley and Noah so very much.
If you haven’t started the series yet, I highly recommend it.