Lucy Lennox is a prolific ebook author of m/m gay romance. She has written two series, Made Marian and Forever Wilde, about two huge families filled with gay men. She has also collaborated with other authors on several standalone series. I’ve read them all, and rather than review them individually I decided to just review each series.
This is her first series, Made Marian. It centers on the Marian family from San Francisco. The Marians have six biological children, three of whom are gay. When their sons came out, the Marian parents began volunteering at a gay youth shelter and adopted three of the young teens living there, bringing their family total to nine children, six of whom are gay men. The first six books in the series focus on the six brothers, while the seventh book features the entire family trying to set up a new friend that they meet. In addition to the nine Marian siblings, there is also a trio of bawdy older women, Aunt Tilly, Granny, and Iris, who generally provide comic relief by saying sexual things, which is of course hilarious because they’re old and everyone knows old people don’t have sex drives or think about sex.
As I said above, I’ve read everything that Lucy Lennox has written. Which might make you think that I enjoy her writing, but that’s not exactly true. I think her books are like Peeps- really sugary, not exactly good, but comforting and easy to eat, even if they leave you feeling unhealthy and slightly sick. Her characters are all good people, trying to do the right thing, and they all find a happily ever after. Her characters are also all ridiculous, fall in love immediately, and then make huge life-changing decisions after about a week of being together. When you read all of her books back-to-back, they start to get a bit monotonous and samey-samey, which means that even while writing these reviews I struggled to remember which plot points went with which book…and I read these last month.
Borrowing Blue (3/5 stars)- Blue Marian is trapped at a vineyard for his sister’s wedding with his recent ex-boyfriend and his ex’s new partner. Blue is just trying to get through the long weekend when he strikes up a conversation with Tristan, the straight brother of the groom. Tristan kisses Blue to make the ex jealous, and if you think that the kiss leads to sex which leads to Tristan realizing he’s bi/gay, then you would be correct. Lucy Lennox loves a “gay for you” storyline, and this is definitely that. Blue and Tristan spend the wedding long-weekend together and of course they fall in love. There are complications with their family, the wedding is a disaster, but they get their happily ever after. Blue and Tristan are both easy characters to spend time with, the angst about being in a gay relationship is basically nonexistent, and there are plentiful sex scenes and lots of romantic declarations. But that “gay for you” plot- ugh.
Taming Teddy (3/5 stars)- Jamie Marian is a wildlife veterinarian living in Denali National Park. He’s known as the Wild Animal Whisperer due to his amazing ability to get close to the wild animals he tends to. A photograph of Jamie holding a baby bear cub goes viral, and catches the attention of Teddy, a wildlife photographer. Teddy harasses Jamie over email and text to let him photograph Jamie in the park, and when Jamie refuses to relent Teddy shows up at his front door. Jamie and Teddy are both gay men; Jamie is getting over a heartbreak (his ex-fiance hid the fact that he was already married to a woman) and Teddy is happily single. They share a great week together, having lots of sex and spending time in the park tending to the animals and taking photographs. The angst in the book comes from the fact that Teddy lives in NYC (umm…why would a wildlife photographer live in NYC?) and doesn’t want a relationship…which is to say, the angst in the book is pretty nonexistent and easily solved. Again, lots of sex scenes, romantic declarations, and a happily ever after. Appreciated that both characters were out gay men, and that they both acted like adults.
Jumping Jude (4/5 stars)- Jude Marian is a famous country musician, fronting his band Jude and the Saints. He’s also deeply in the closet, not even coming out to his ridiculously close and supportive family. Only his brother Blue knows that he is gay. Jude is assigned a new personal bodyguard, Derek. Derek hates Jude’s music and isn’t too fond of Jude either. They spend six months together while Jude is on tour, not liking each other very much, until one night all of that dislike turns into sexual attraction. Derek is even deeper in the closet than Jude, and their relationship is pretty much stunted from the beginning due to this. Jude has a lot to lose by coming out, especially in country music, but it is actually Derek who has the biggest issue with it. Of all the Made Marian books, I think these two had the most realistic obstacle to overcome- while the “famous musician” aspect isn’t relatable, I think having one partner uncomfortable with being out is a real issue that people deal with. I also appreciated that these two didn’t fall in love in three days- they spend a LOT of time together before even recognizing the attraction, and then dated for months before trying to level up the relationship. Again, lots of sex, romance, happily ever after.
Grounding Griffin (3/5 stars)- Griffin Marian was adopted from the gay youth shelter by the Marian family as a teen. The circumstances that led to him being first a foster kid, and then a homeless youth, mean that Griffin has trust issues. But he’s a charming, easygoing, and generally happy man. He’s a freelance writer, on assignment at a local gay bar writing an article about picking up men using extreme terms of endearment. Sam is a disgraced former chef, forced to work as a bartender at the gay bar while looking for his next kitchen. A bad review cost him his chef position (any guesses which writer wrote that bad review??). Sam and Griffin hook up, then get to know each other, and then fall in love. Their happily ever after stretches incredulity a bit (and relies on Blue and Tristan from the first book), but this is my favorite of the Made Marian books. Griffin’s best friend Nico is the bridge character between the Made Marian series and the Forever Wilde series. Again, sex and romance and happily ever after.
Moving Maverick (1/5 stars)- Maverick Marian was also adopted from the gay youth shelter by the Marian family. He returns to his grandmother’s home in South Carolina after her death to settle her estate, and runs into his childhood best friend Beau. I don’t actually know what happens next because I didn’t finish this book. I hated the set up, I didn’t care about Maverick or Beau, and the whole thing was a snooze for me.
Delivering Dante (2.5/5 stars)- Dante Marian is the youngest adopted son of the Marian family. He has the most difficult background, raised by a fundamentalist preacher father who believed in conversion therapy and “beating out the gay.” Dante was rescued as a teen from his father’s church by a stranger and never quite knew how he got out of that church basement. As an adult, he runs the gay youth shelter that took him in and tries to deal with the fact that his father is now running for Congress. Enter AJ, a security specialist with a connection to both the shelter and Dante…yeah, it’s what you think. They start dating, AJ doesn’t come clean about his role in rescuing Dante, and when the truth comes out it is an issue. This book, more than the others, spends time dealing with trauma and healing. Dante has to deal with his father, and whether to publicly come forward to tell the world what his father did to him. While this provided a little more depth to the story, I didn’t particularly relate to Dante or AJ as characters, and I found the whole “undercover extraction agents” to be a bit preposterous.
A Very Marian Christmas (3/5 stars)- The Marian family meets Noah, a cute nurse from Canada who is temporarily hosting sex toy parties while he waits for his nursing license to come through in San Francisco. The Marians decide to set Noah up on a series of blind dates, making a bet about which Marian will be able to find a love match for Noah. Meanwhile, Noah is staying with his older brother’s best friend Luke, a man that he has lusted after since he was a child. Luke sees Noah as his best friend’s kid brother and honestly, this part made me crazy. I understand that when you knew someone as a child, it can be hard to see them as an adult, but Noah is a 28 year-old man and Luke, only 35 himself, keeps calling Noah a kid and acting like Noah needs warm milk and a bedtime story. It’s obnoxious and borderline creepy, and only saved by the fact that every other character calls Luke out for this ridiculousness. Noah is a total sweetheart and as a capper to the series, it was nice to check in with all the Marians and the various secondary characters from the other books as they were set up with Noah. Obviously Noah and Luke fall in love, lots of sex and romance and happily ever after.
There is a crossover book that deals with Griffin’s younger brother, but Lucy Lennox co-wrote that one so I will include it in my roundup reviews of the collaborations.