Monday, 15 January 2018

Review of Misdemeanour and Hard Times by C F White

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Book one in the Responsible Adult serial

Love isn’t always responsible

After his mother tragically dies and his deadbeat father goes off the rails, nineteen-year-old Micky is left to care for his disabled little brother, Flynn.

Juggling college, a dead-end job and Flynn’s special needs means Micky has to put his bad-boy past behind him and be the responsible adult to keep his brother out of care. He doesn’t have time for anything else in his life.

Until he meets Dan…


Micky was a bad boy. Who knows all he got up to, but some of it, at least, wasn’t legal.

That was before his mother died and he kicked his drunken, abusive father out of the house to take care of his young brother, Fynn. Fynn suffers from Williams Syndrome, a rare condition that causes some physical and developmental problems that makes Flynn overly social, trusting and a challenge to bring up.

The authorities are not happy about the situation at all, and Micky struggles to stay one step ahead of them. Time is running out as no one really believes he has adult supervision any longer. Micky is terrified that his past will preclude him from caring for Flynn if they’re caught

There are some amazing touches that hit you right in the feels, such as the post box the boys have in their garden where Flynn posts letters to his mother. Micky tells him their mother comes in the night to read them and if he’s asleep she kisses him goodnight.

The characters are so real that by the end of the book it was almost as if I knew them personally.
Micky is certainly no angel, neither does he pretend to be.

Dan, a harassed store manager and Micky’s boss knows about his background but cares for him anyway, even though his faith is strained sometimes. He’s a solid, well adjusted person whose life is turned upside down by Micky and Flynn, but he hangs in there and helps Micky to learn how to adult, and tried to convince him that being an adult sometimes involves making hard decisions.

Flynn is just Flynn. There’s no one like him. He’s utterly adorable and I loved the heck out of him.
He trusts his brother implicitly, and he trusts everyone else almost as much. He’s so vulnerable and loving you find yourself holding your breath every time something threatens the home Micky has made for and with him.

The author calls the story gritty, and I suppose it is, but in a warm way and even when bad things happen there’s a warmth to them.

I did some research on Williams Syndrome and the author really knows her stuff. Like autism, it’s a bundle of possible symptoms that present differently in each person, with certain uniform characteristics. It is also known as Elfin Face Syndrome, which I think is perfect for Flynn who is such an innocent, affectionate, faery-like creature.

I warn you, this book ends in a cliffhanger. The title of the next book “Hard Time” might give you a clue as to what that is. Thankfully, I’m moving on to the next one immediately and I suggest you have the second book ready.

This is a wonderful, warm book with a high level of realism, and yes, a grittiness that spotlights a difficult life and someone struggling with an almost intolerable situation. However, there is humour, kindness and enduring love throughout that makes it a challenging but rewarding read.


Book two in the Responsible Adult series

Love isn't always responsible.

After Micky O’Neill is remanded in custody for breaching his court order, his already tempestuous relationship with Dan Peters is tested to the limits.

Having to battle their way through a court case that could end with Micky in jail, social workers breaking up the family home and the return of Micky’s deadbeat father, it seems everything is set to destroy their relationship before it even has the chance to start.

With such high stakes involved, not just for Micky but for once-burned, twice-shy Dan, they both have to learn that falling in love isn’t always responsible.


Continuing on from Misdemeanour this book can’t be read as a standalone. Mickey, the reforming bad boy, hit rock bottom when arrested for breaching a restraining order (justifiably, I thought). At the beginning of this book, Mickey gets out of prison but he’s lost his brother, Flynn when Social Services finally caught up with them.

By a stroke of luck, Dan’s parents are foster carers, albeit retired and they are able to take Flynn, at least temporarily.

Things look up for a while, but it’s not for Mickey to have things too easy. His father makes a comeback and steals everything he owns. In an attempt to get them back, Mickey finds himself in trouble again.

The author has an amazing ability to lull you into a cosy sense of false security, before dumping a bucket of “Oh my God no” on your head. Mickey is tested at every turn and cosy domestic scenes are interspersed with much darker events. At no time are you allowed to get too comfortable and I love this.

Throughout all his trials, Dan remains a steady influence but Mickey still finds it impossible to say “I love you”, and his lack of commitment is the one thing most likely to blow them apart. That and his temper.

The workings and attitudes of social services and the courts are accurately if somewhat optimistically, represented and add to the gritty realism that pervades the books. While everything has a satisfactory outcome, it certainly wasn’t an easy one.

As usual, Flynn provides light relief with his pure innocence and truly beautiful personality. It was heart-breaking to see the author deal with the kind of bigotry children with disabilities far too often face.

When the first book ended in a cliffhanger, this one most certainly does not. The upbeat tone and sense of real hope for the future is as beautiful as the scenery and I felt as if I was coming home at last after a long, hard journey.

These two books were not easy to read, but the rewards were enormous. If you want your heartstrings tugged, torn and played like a finely tuned instrument then these are the books for you. You won’t be sorry.

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