Rating: 5 stars out of 5
Rick Reed delivers a powerful love story wrapped in a multitude of emotions. Jasper Warren, the principal character, is a young gay man living in Chicago with his bestie, Lacy. She’s perfectly happy tagging along as his wingman when he hits the nightlife Chicago offers. But when tragedy strikes, Jasper blames himself for not realizing how much Lacy really loved him. He’s spent most of his life alone, ever since his mother and younger sister were murdered and his father grew so remote, quiet, and introspective that he never interacted with Jasper, the only family he had left. He grew up in the same house as his dad but without the love and support one would expect from family. And, until she’s gone, Jasper never realizes she had become the family of his heart.
When Lacy’s uncle Rob befriends Jasper, the two bond over their losses. And, actually, Jasper wouldn’t mind more than friendship from the handsome, older silver fox. Those who enjoy family drama will love this story as there is both past and current familial drama as well as drama related to family of choice. The story primarily focuses on relationships: parents and children, friends and lovers, and, more subtly, a focus on the words and actions we use to hurt others, whether purposely or accidentally. In fact, sometimes, it’s not the action, but the failure to act, that causes the most harm.
Within the story, Rob, who happens to be a well-known author, cites the differences between fiction and real life and notes that “in real life, we need to think about using few words and making the ones we do use more meaningful.” So very true! Missed opportunities, lingering misunderstandings, and the complexity of our very human day-to-day existence can all cause far-reaching relationship problems. I loved the way the author wove these experiences into the story so readers could draw their own conclusions and see the life lessons as simply human experiences, for better or worse.
Over and above the outstanding plot, the author’s love for Palm Springs comes through loud and clear, as does his familiarity with the Chicago area.
Jasper’s fierce independent streak carries throughout the story, and there is a potentially happy future for him and Rob on the horizon, but he has also learned to value his self-confidence and his newfound positive relationship with his dad as the story closes.
I highly recommend this to lovers of strong characters and those who enjoy age gap, hurt-comfort, redemption, and independence.
The cover by Reese Dante, done in a black-and-white tone, features two men—one turned toward the camera, and one in side view. The overall effect is that of strife, anxiety, fear, and shame—all emotions evoked by the secrets they keep.
ebook, 195 pages
Published September 17th 2019 by Dreamspinner Press
Edition Language English