Going Down Easy
Erin Nichols’ Boys of the Big Easy series opens with Going Down Easy, a decently written and complex story about the struggle to balance romance, work and parental love.
Tavern co-owner Gabe Traham and architectural consultant Addison Sloan have been friends-with-benefits forever. In fact, the sex has been so good that Addison flies from New York to New Orleans once a month to spend a weekend with Gabe, boink, eat great food and enjoy jazz music. They know nothing else about one another – no personal details to bog things down –and that’s just the way Addison likes it. But when Gabe picks Addison’s firm to restore his tavern, they’re forced into closer proximity.
Gabe wants to have a real relationship with Addison, but when he asks, she demurs. It turns out that Addison’s hiding a secret – she’s a single mom to an exuberant five-year-old-daughter, fathered by a rock star who took off for LA after signing over all parental rights to Addison. She expects Gabe to run for his life when she confesses that fact, but Gabe is thrilled – his secret is he’s a single dad to a son, the cerebral, risk-fearing and also five-year-old Cooper, the result of a brief affair and whose mother is deceased. All Addison wants is to continue their friends-with-benefits relationship, but Gabe desperately wants something more. When Gabe shows up at her single parents support group to make a plea for their compatibility, she decides to give him a chance. But will their children get along? And can they turn a sex-based relationship into a romantic one?
Going Down Easy is split right in half between an angst-laden tale of parenting issues and extremely erotic sex. The book gets this right about sixty percent of the time, but sometimes the narrative zig-zags wildly between the two; overall though, the author does a decent job of focusing on both.
Addison is a well-rounded heroine; she’s kinda bitter and kinda nasty but hey, she’s real about it – prickly and layered. She’s also not the best mom and the narrative has the courage to say so, that parenthood is messy and exhausting and that she misses her freedom sometimes and definitely doesn’t want to have another kid. Comparing her realistic parenting style to Gabe’s more fanciful ideas is interesting, but I wish for once there’d be a book about a heroine with a loose style of parenting and an uptight dad.
Gabe is a decent hero; mushy in places, alpha in others (even Addison makes commentary about him talking of “owning her pussy”, in his words, during moments of dirty talk). He’s a really good dad but has his own deep flaws.
The Addison/Gabe relationship bounces between being very push-pull and being quite sexually driven. Their arguments that are driven by their personality flaws and character deficits, and that, ultimately, makes them worth rooting for.
The kids are quite charming, but the way they interact with and nearly-instantly like Gabe or Addison doesn’t feel realistic or apt. As an example, Cooper climbs into Addison’s lap even though he’s a nervous child and she’s a stranger, which makes little to no sense when he’s self-admittedly cowardly. The children are naturally good for one another, and their bond exposes the problems Gabe and Addison have in their parenting styles (and proves why they need one another to balance things out). Gabe’s brother is on hand to set up the next part of the series, and there are a delightful assortment of personalities in the single parenting group to enjoy.
I’m taking off half a grade-point for something that happens at the end of the book. After heavily establishing Addison’s character at the start of the book, I absolutely couldn’t buy the final decision she makes. It feels like she’s giving in to Gabe’s wants for their life together versus anything she actually wants or needs in a relationship.
In the end, Going Down Easy’s narrative dichotomy results in its own kind of push-pull difficulties. I’m not sure how many those who hunger for the erotic content of the romance will stick around for the parent-driven parts, and vice-versa, but for those who like a little variety in their stories it’s perfectly enjoyable.
Buy it at: Amazon
Lisa Fernandes is a writer, reviewer and recapper who lives somewhere on the East Coast. Formerly employed by Firefox.org and Next Projection, she also currently contributes to Women Write About Comics. Read her blog at http://thatbouviergirl.blogspot.com/, follow her on Twitter at http://twitter.com/thatbouviergirl or contribute to her Patreon at https://www.patreon.com/MissyvsEvilDead or her Ko-Fi at ko-fi.com/missmelbouvier