A Barb the Zany Old Lady Release Day Review: Blue Umbrella Sky by Rick R. Reed

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Milt’s husband of many years, Corky, has passed away after suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease, a horrible deterioration of mind and body.  As is the case with many who suffer from this disease, Corky forgot who Milt was at times and at other times was angry and resentful toward him. He escaped his home, sometimes while nude, and in short, tested Milt’s reserves to the nth degree.  But Milt never stopped loving him and now, sitting in his new mobile home in Palm Springs, California, he’s far away and yet still close in his heart.  Some thought Milt was being too reactionary when he packed up and moved across country, but he and his adopted dog, Ruby, are beginning to acclimate to their new lives together.

Then, along comes a flash flood and a friendly neighbor to rescue them. Billy Blue, handsome, young, a former singer, now working at Trader Joe’s is an alcoholic in recovery for several years and planning to stay that way, despite the emotional ups and downs he begins to feel when Milt enters his life. Though several years older than Billy, Milt is nevertheless exactly the man of Billy’s dreams and Billy has to exercise all his life lessons to remember that good things happen in their own time, not on his time schedule.

Those who follow my reviews know I get a little (okay, a lot) peeved when authors glaze over a “drinking problem” or have their character in detox and then have him live a happy life, drinking again whenever he’s out with friends—with no consequences.  But in this story, Mr. Reed presented alcoholism and recovery, through the twelve step fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous, as clearly, kindly, respectfully, and honestly as I’ve ever read. And I’m old, so I’ve read a lot! I appreciate his attention detail more than I can say.

A frequently heard term in AA is “the joy is in the journey, not the destination.”  And for me, the joy was in the journey of reading this beautiful portrayal of a man coming to grips with the death of his husband, moving through the stages of grief as time goes on, and ultimately recognizing that it’s okay to love again.  There’s also joy in being present for Billy’s journey as he follows direction from his sponsor and does what he’s learned is most important to his balance—to put his sobriety first.  After all, he wouldn’t have any chance with Milt if he wasn’t the man he is today and that’s due to working the program. 

I simply loved this story.  It’s not explicit, thankfully.  That wasn’t necessary.  What was necessary was to allow two men to have an opportunity to get to know each other, become friends, and eventually move to a firm and loving relationship.  Slow burn, hurt-comfort, age gap, men over forty, grief, men with pets—I can think of many more tags I’d use for this one. But ultimately, the tag I’d use first and foremost is amazing.   Thank you Rick R. Reed! You have set the bar high. 

The cover by Reese Dante features two men in an embrace—perhaps a kiss about to happen—set against a beautiful blue background of the sky over Palm Springs.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 1st edition, 190 pages
Expected publication: March 19th 2019 by Dreamspinner Press
ASIN B07NNX7J4Q
Edition Language English

Rick R. Reed on the Writing Process, Influences, and his new release ‘Bigger Love (Big Love #2)’ (author guest post)

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Bigger Love (Big Love #2) by Rick R. Reed
Dreamspinner Press
Cover Art:  Reese Dante

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Amazon paperback |  Amazon Kindle  |   Dreamspinner Press paperback |  Dreamspinner Press ebook 

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Rick R. Reed here on tour for the latest story in his Big Love series, Bigger Love, Rick R. Reed. Welcome, Rick.

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Probes BIGGER LOVE Author Rick R. Reed

How much of yourself goes into a character?

A lot. Whether I’m aware of it or not (sometimes I don’t spot it until long after a book is in print), I think a bit of myself goes into every character I write. That may be a small part or a big part. For example, in my latest, Bigger Love, I identify strongly with Truman Reid, my bullied, yet out-and-proud high school student. Like him, I suffered from being different when I was growing up (and the loathing came from both inside and out). But the wonderful thing I could do with Truman is give the strength, spirit, and self-love I wish I’d had at his age.

Have you ever had to put an ‘in progress’ story aside because of the emotional ties with it?  You were hurting with the characters or didn’t know how to proceed?

I can’t say that I have. I’m the kind of writer who starts with the first sentence and writes through to the end, never straying. Once I’m committed to a project, I finish it and always from beginning to end, never in any other order. As the kids say, “I can’t even…” However, that’s not to say things I’ve written haven’t been painful to me, especially when they hit very close to home. The books I’ve cried the most while writing were CAREGIVER, RAINING MEN, BIG LOVE, BIGGER LOVE and BLINK. Those books all came very close to my own personal life and it was impossible to write them without feeling both the pain and joy of the experiences and people who inspired them.

Who do you think is your major influence as a writer?  Now and growing up?

In real life, that would be my college creative writing professor, Milton White, who was an old, gay man, who wrote a couple of brilliant books that no one, sadly read (A Yale Man and Listen, the Red-Eyed Vireo). Milton was funny, abrasive, and demanding when it came to teaching and he imparted so much wisdom to me about writing. For example, one of the many lessons I learned from him was that there’s a big difference between simple and simplistic. You always want to strive for the former. In the book world, authors like Patricia Highsmith, Ruth Rendell, Flannery O’Connor and Stephen King all shaped who I am as a writer today. I have endless admiration for them and only hope that my work perhaps just begins to approach their talent and world-view.

How do you feel about the ebook format and where do you see it going?

It’s here to stay. Look at Amazon, who are just this month releasing a new version of the Kindle Paperwhite, so there must be some demand for it. Take a look at any royalty statement I get, where ebooks outsell print books easily by 100 to 1. And personally, I read almost everything these days on my Kindle or on my phone/iPad on the Kindle app. Books are books and whether they’re paper or pixels, it’s the idea and the imagination that counts, not the vessel in which they’re conveyed to you.

If you write contemporary romance, is there such a thing as making a main character too “real”?  Do you think you can bring too many faults into a character that eventually it becomes too flawed to become a love interest?

No. I believe it’s our flaws that provide conflict and make characters interesting. Flaws are something that can, during the course of a story, be improved upon, especially by the redemptive power of love. That power is a common theme in my work and brings about the most joyous changes among my characters and leads to their happy-ever-after. The more flawed the character, the greater the redemption and, I think, the more satisfying the story.

  

What’s  the wildest scene you’ve imagined and did it make it into a story?

Here you go. This is from a novella you can get on Amazon for only $1.99 called OUT ON THE NET (https://www.amazon.com/Out-Net-Love-Story-Blog-ebook/dp/B01F9M21DW)

BLOG ENTRY #4:

A Visit to a Rest Stop

Oh, I know what you’re going to say when you see the title of this entry. You’ll roll your eyes and say, “Now, I understand why this blog is labeled ‘adult content.’” And you’re probably thinking that things are going to get juicy and scandalous.

Because everyone in Summitville knows what goes on at that little rest stop just north of town, on the way to the highway. There’s a reason people snicker about it and call it “Lollipop Park.”

Are you rolling your eyes and hoping in every sense of the phrase that I will not go there?

Hang on to your hats, boys and girls, because I did go there. Sordid. Seedy. Shameful. I know. I went there in real life and I’m going there now on paper. Hang on, it’s going to be a bumpy ride!

But I didn’t yet tell you why I drove out there just a couple of weeks after the disaster that was to have been my wedding day. And I haven’t yet related what happened there, so just hold your horses on your judgments, Mary. I am trying to learn to talk as I imagine a gay man would and it’s not coming easy. Case in point—calling you “Mary.” So stupid.

Anyway, Summitville, PA has no gay bars, no gay clubs, no gay newspaper. To the untrained eye, one might even claim the little riverside town has no gay people, but discerning minds know that in a town of 12,000, that can’t be true. If you take the more or less accepted rule of thumb of one in every ten people is gay (don’t ask me where I got that statistic; I’ve heard it all my life), that would mean there are at least 1200 people here just like me, or at least like me in that they prefer sausage over pie or vice versa.

I digress. Why did I stop by the rest stop, when I neither needed to rest, nor to pee? What made me go to that shadowy, stinking-of-excrement, gravel-fronted little rest stop with the obscene graffiti and lone men lingering too long in parked cars? What would possess a nice, clean, upstanding guy like me to wander out to a place known for anonymous sexual encounters?

Curiosity. Don’t give me that crap about killing the cat, either. It was curiosity. Because, you see, even though I knew now that I was a gay man, I had no idea what gay men did, where they went, how they met. Maybe if I lived in that big city to the west, Pittsburgh, with its gay bars and clubs, I would have a better idea. But here in Summitville, where when people think of “cornholing,” they think of a summertime game played with beanbags and slotted boards, I just hadn’t had much opportunity to know much about gay life—the ins and outs of it (yes, I hear you snickering…shut up!).

Ergo the rest stop, rest area, Lollipop Park, whatever you wanted to call it. It was my only frame of reference for where gay men met up. I had driven by many times, on my way to the mall, and had heard the whisperings and jokes about the place, had even pretended to find the idea of such a locale humorous. But when I was alone, I put the humor aside and toyed with the rumors I’d heard—that men sucked each other off in the woods nearby and sometimes even right there in the stalls; that guys picked each other up and went back to each other’s home for God knew what. Parcheesi? Root beer floats? I don’t think so. These ideas made me feel paradoxically sick and weak and, at the same time, queasy with desire.

So I decided that my first act as a gay man should be to meet another one. And my very limited frame of reference left this as my only option. The idea of driving up to Pittsburgh or down to Steubenville and setting foot in one of the gay bars there filled me with terror. I was so not ready to mingle with my more urban, and sophisticated, gay brethren.

So I was stuck with this seedy and unseemly choice. I pulled into the gravel parking lot, where several other cars were already sitting, and shrugged. What would be the worst that could happen? Okay, okay, I could be fag bashed or arrested…that would be the worst. But if I was careful, maybe I would come out of this at least knowing someone else like myself and maybe, oh God, just maybe, I would have my first sexual encounter with a man.

Whoa there, boy, you’re getting ahead of yourself! I quieted the lustful thoughts and the rising erection that both seemed to arrive of their own accord, with no prompting from me.

I sat in my car and looked around the little parking lot. It was around nine o’clock, dusky. A few fireflies danced in the air over the grassy area just ahead of our cars, where the Summitville park district had kindly put out a pair of decrepit looking picnic tables. Who would want to picnic here? And what was on the menu?

Shut up with the weenies comment, please!

Because of the dying light and the setting sun reflecting off car glass, it was hard to see any of the other occupants of the three other vehicles in the lot. One thing was for sure, though: from the silhouettes, I could tell that a lone male occupied each car. One of them was smoking; I could see the glow of the cherry at the tip of his cigarette as he brought it to his mouth and drew in.

What was I supposed to do now? I didn’t know, so I just sat in my car, the butterflies dancing in my stomach, for what seemed like hours, but was, in reality, only about fifteen minutes or so. I drew in a deep breath and gathered up my courage. Someone had to start something.

I rolled up my car windows and exited my Kia Soul, closing the door softly behind me. I used the remote over my shoulder to lock the car up as I headed to the little cinder block structure to my left. Even from here, the word, “MEN” beckoned in white on a blue background.

Promising.

I went inside and thought of uttering that old Bette Davis line, “What a dump!” and then chastised myself for being such a queen.

But the shitter, er, the restroom was not exactly a sight for sore eyes. It was dingy and dark, the only illumination came from a bare, low-watt bulb hanging from the ceiling. The paint-peeling industrial green walls looked like they would be damp to the touch. Flies buzzed around, obviously delighted with the luxurious accommodations. Cigarette butts and toilet paper littered the floor. Twin pieces of reflective metal, trying hard to find their motivation as mirrors, had been affixed to the wall above a pair of old, dripping, and rust-stained sink. On one wall was mounted a dispenser out of which one could get a condom for just a quarter. What was that doing here? The whole place stank of urine and shit.

Isn’t it romantic?

If this was gay life, perhaps I should crawl back to Alice on my hands and knees and beg for forgiveness.

But, as the saying goes, “in for a penny, in for a pound,” I thought I should at least check out the rest of the place. See what some witty scribes had written on partition walls…

I headed over to the two toilet stalls and, after wiping the seat with a piece of single-ply toilet paper, I nervously sat down. Even though I had wiped the seat, I didn’t feel comfortable enough to lower my cargo shorts.

The first thing I spied was some graffiti that said, “10-4 good buddy, this is the place, pull down your pants and fuck my face.”

Charming!

I wondered what poet wannabe had written those lines on the wall and if any burly trucker had ever heeded its siren call. I searched in vain for more rhyming couplets, but none of the other graffiti matched its poetic flair. In fact, the rest of it was downright crude, exhortations to suck and be sucked, to fuck and be fucked, penis sizes, and messages left by people who cared so little about their privacy that they left phone numbers.

I could not imagine calling one of those numbers…or what kind of person would be hanging out on the other end of the line.

I stiffened—and not in a good way—as I heard footsteps. It was then that I noticed the hole drilled into the partition wall. It was just the right size to fit a hand—or, oh my Sweet Jesus, another part of the anatomy—through and positioned at waist height.

Did people really use that hole for what I thought they did?

Was there no romance in the gay world?

The footsteps neared my stall, and because there was no front door, I locked eyes with my new restroom buddy. He stopped in front of my stall and stared at me. I didn’t know what to do. Even though my shorts were up, I placed my hand over my crotch.

He had his hand over his crotch, too, and was rubbing it suggestively. He squeezed and I could see the outline of an erect cock beneath the denim.

Suddenly, my mouth felt dry and my heart was beating at double its usual rate. Good Lord, when had it gotten dark outside?

I eyed the man and he met my stare almost with a challenge in his eyes. He was about my age, but had long, stringy blond hair. He was too skinny and his bare arms (he was wearing a grimy wife-beater) were tattooed up and down their sinewy lengths. A hoop earring dangled from one ear, peeking in and out from the strings of his platinum locks as he glanced down at his own crotch, as if making sure it was still there.

My mouth was dry and I wanted to lick my lips, but was afraid of giving the wrong idea. I was learning fast that the language spoken here was with the eyes and not-so-subtle gestures.

Finally, he smiled at me and I saw he had what my mom used to refer to as “summer teeth.” Some are here. Some are there.

Suddenly, he reached for my crotch, as if to give it a neighborly squeeze. I swung my legs around to ensure his intended was out of his reach.

He sighed impatiently and ducked quickly into the stall next to mine. For a long time, there was silence and I dared not hazard a peek through the hole in the wall to see what my new buddy was up to.

But finally, I could stand the suspense no longer. I leaned forward a little, positioning my eye so it was level with the hole.

Boy, did I get an eyeful. Mr. Summer Teeth had had no compunction about dropping his drawers and working himself up into a frenzy. A huge cock, what I would estimate to be between eight or nine inches, rose up from between his tanned thighs. He worked it hard and there was a drop of precum poised at the slit in his head.

I have to admit it. My mouth wasn’t so dry anymore.

I watched. I think I was a little in shock. All kinds of things were running through me, making me feel both nauseous and lustful. I wanted that thing. I needed to get the hell out of here now.

He must have noticed me peering through the hole because the next thing I knew that big missile was coming right through it. Hey, buddy, watch it! You could take out someone’s eye with that thing!

Suddenly the cock was right in front of my face, dripping precum. With just a slight lean forward, I could have the pleasure of tracing a bulging purple vein with my tongue.

Did I touch it? Did I take it in my mouth?

Are you crazy? I ran out of there as fast as I could and if it didn’t mean being labeled as a drama queen, I would have said I rushed out screaming into the night.

As I drove away, tires sending up a spray of gravel behind me, I wondered if I would ever make a very good gay.

 

Ever drunk written a chapter and then read it the next day and still been happy with it?  Trust me there’s a whole world of us drunk writers dying to know.

Being drunk is not a time to write. Neither is being high. I’m well-acquainted with both and am happy to say I’ve mixed lots of things with both states, but never my writing. That says something about me, but I’ll leave it to you to figure out what.

 

If you could imagine the best possible place for you to write, where would that be and why?

My home office, with no distractions, and my dog snoring behind me as I write.

 

BLURB

Truman Reid is Summitville High’s most out-and-proud senior. He can’t wait to take his fierce, uncompromising self away from his small Ohio River hometown, where he’s suffered more than his share of bullying. He’s looking forward to bright lights and a big city. Maybe he’ll be the first gender-fluid star to ever win an Academy Award. But all that changes on the first day of school when he locks eyes with the most gorgeous hunk he’s ever seen.

Mike Stewart, big, dark-haired, and with the most amazing blue eyes, is new to town. He’s quiet, manly, and has the sexy air of a lost soul. It’s almost love at first sight for Truman. He thinks that love could deepen when Mike becomes part of the stage crew for Harvey, the senior class play Truman’s directing. But is Mike even gay? And how will it work when Truman’s mother is falling for Mike’s dad?

Plus Truman, never the norm, makes a daring and controversial choice for the production that has the whole town up in arms.

See how it all plays out on a stage of love, laughter, tears, and sticking up for one’s essential self….

About the Author RICK R. REED 

Real Men. True Love.

Rick R. Reed draws inspiration from the lives of gay men to craft stories that quicken the heartbeat, engage emotions, and keep the pages turning. Although he dabbles in horror, dark suspense, and comedy, his attention always returns to the power of love. He’s the award-winning and bestselling author of more than fifty works of published fiction and is forever at work on yet another book. Lambda Literary has called him: “A writer that doesn’t disappoint…” You can find him at www.rickrreed.com or www.rickrreedreality.blogspot.com. Rick lives in Palm Springs, CA with his beloved husband and their fierce Chihuahua/Shiba Inu mix.

FIND RICK ONLINE

Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/rickrreedbooks

Twitter: www.twitter.com/rickrreed

Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+RickReedWRITER

Blog: http://rickrreedreality.blogspot.com/

Website: www.rickrreed.com

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/rick-r-reed

Email: rickrreedbooks@gmail.com

A VVivacious Review : Sky Full Of Mysteries by Rick R Reed

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Rating: 3.5 Stars out of 5

Cole Weston returns home to find his boyfriend and first love, Rory Schneidmiller gone without a trace. Cole is devastated but he gradually puts his life back together and finds love once again in his now husband, Tommy D’Amico.

In the blink of an eye, twenty years pass for Rory and he can’t help but want to see Cole because in his heart Cole is his love but as he comes to realise circumstances have drastically changed for Cole.

Cole finds himself faced with an impossible quandary, what will he do?

I am really not sure of my rating for this book. This is one book in which I am pretty sure a rating can’t truly reflect what I think of the book. It was pretty out there. I don’t even know if I will able to articulate the absolute chaos of thoughts that I have after finishing this book but I guess I have to give it a try.

When I started the story, I had already read the blurb, as I suppose most of you would have as well. The blurb reveals most of the story. So, when you get down to reading the book you would know almost everything. You know where the story is headed after all I picked up this book to know the answer to that question at the end of the blurb, the choice between an idealized and passionate first love and the comfort of a long-term marriage. But, the truth is almost 85% of this book is setup, it is the story behind the choice or in better words, how the choice even came to be. While in hindsight, maybe there isn’t much of a dilemma between these two choices but while I was reading the first 85% of this book I couldn’t help but hope things would hurry along to the real question.

The dilemma that Cole faces is one that almost no one will face, but theoretically, he does face the dilemma. Now the choice depends on a lot of factors, even if he was in an unhappy marriage, Rory would hardly be the best choice, they are more than 20 years apart in age, it would be really difficult to account for his presence and why he looks 20 years younger than he should be and moreover there are going to be a lot of people interested in finding out why, so really the only thing Rory has going for him is that Cole might still be hung-up on Rory after all this time which he is, as the book amply demonstrates and which I felt was the only thing the setup of this book really wanted to achieve. To inform us that Cole still loves Rory and believes him to be his true love. Because what the setup fails to do is give us any substance of the kind of relationship Rory/Cole and Cole/Tommy share we just see the end of one and the beginning of another. In fact, I was so disconnected from these two relationships that the letter Rory writes to Cole feels like a different beast altogether and I still can’t conceive that this letter was written by the Rory we have come to know.

Also, there are obviously things that Cole is hiding from Tommy, we never do get to know how Cole deals with that particular minefield.

There are also aliens in this book. I was a little surprised by this, God knows why but even knowing the premise of this story the whole close encounters of the third kind thing caught me off-guard and I have no idea how I feel about the use of extraterrestrials in this book.

Well, this story gave me a lot to think about but I don’t know if it managed to answer it’s own question. I didn’t quite agree with the ending of the book. I can’t fully reconcile with Rory’s decision which appears to hinge completely on Cole’s.

The story is engaging and the setup doesn’t bog you down too much but definitely allows you to really get to know Cole and Rory. It raises a lot of questions and speculations but all in all, it truly is an interesting read.

Cover Art by Reese Dante. I liked the cover it tends to evoke just the kind of response that the story does though there is an almost criminal overuse of white dots on the cover.

Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK | Dreamspinner

Book Details:

ebook, 220 pages
Expected publication: August 14th 2018 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN139781640801585
Edition LanguageEnglish

Release Blitz – Sky Full Of Mysteries by Rick R Reed (excerpt and giveaway)

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Length: 76,456 words
 
 
Cover Design: Reese Dante
 
Blurb
 

What if your first love was abducted and presumed dead—but returned twenty years later?

That’s the dilemma Cole Weston faces. Now happily married to Tommy D’Amico, he’s suddenly thrown into a surreal world when his first love, Rory Schneidmiller, unexpectedly reappears.

Where has Rory been all this time? What happened to him two decades ago, when a strange mass appeared in the night sky and lifted him into the heavens? Rory has no memory of those years. For him, it’s as though only a day or two has passed.

Rory still loves Cole with the passion unique to young first love. Cole has never forgotten Rory, yet Tommy has been his rock, by his side since Rory disappeared.

Cole is forced to choose between an idealized and passionate first love and the comfort of a long-term marriage. How can he decide? Who faces this kind of quandary, anyway? The answers might lie among the stars….

 

ExcerptCole patted his back pocket, making sure his wallet was still there. He hoisted himself up from his seat and left the train’s air-conditioning for the humid night. There were several trains in the station, all huffing and puffing as they idled, reminding Cole of dragons. Even this late, there were still people hurrying to and fro on the platform.

Cole headed for the stairs and hurried down. Home was only a ten- minute walk from the station, and Cole was now actually grateful for the nap. If that boy’s not up when I get home, he thought with a grin, I’ll just have to poke him awake.

Cole was certain Rory wouldn’t mind.

When he reached the courtyard of their building, the exhaustion Cole had felt on leaving work entirely vanished. He was ready to howl at the moon. He wished only he’d thought to stop off at a convenience store or something so he could have brought Rory a little surprise, maybe a box of Swedish Fish or a roll of SweeTarts. He’d have to find other ways, he supposed, to thrill his sugar-loving man. He’d give him some sugar, all right.

Cole unlocked the front vestibule door and headed into the cool tile lobby of their building. He loved the 1920s vibe of the lobby and the building in general, glad no one in all the ensuing decades since it had been built had decided the gem of a vintage building needed updating. He loved the mica-colored wall sconces and the Mediterranean floor tile. He even loved the battered brass mailboxes along one wall.

He stopped to check the mail, found the box empty, and headed for the elevator.

Out front, Cole hoped Rory had left the door unlocked for him. No such luck. He fished his keys from his pocket and quelled his first impulse, which was to shout, “Honey, I’m home!” at the top of his lungs. If the poor guy was asleep, Cole reasoned, let him sleep. There were subtler and much more pleasurable ways to wake him.

As he made his way through the living room and toward the bedroom, he dropped clothing as he went. He also shut off the lights Rory had thoughtfully left on for him. By the time he reached the closed bedroom door, he was smiling and sporting an erection.

He opened the door slowly. It took his eyes a moment to adjust. They had, in fact, thumb-tacked a sheet over the sole window, so the room stayed pretty dark.

Cole groped his way to the bed, suppressing a giggle.

But when he got there, the giggle died on his lips. He felt around the surface, up, down, left, right, as though his own hands deceived him. He frowned and then turned to the light switch on the wall and flicked it. The room filled with warm yellow light. No Rory. Cole hadn’t expected that, and he cocked his head. Absurdly, he looked around the room, thinking maybe he’d find Rory sitting on the chair they used to pile their clothes on before hopping into bed for the night. Maybe he’d rolled out and was fast asleep on the braided rug they’d positioned beneath it.

But the room was empty. Unusually neat—the bed made and no clothes lying on the chair in the corner. Cole crossed the room and opened the door to the single closet. Maybe Rory was hiding from him? One of the things they both loved about the apartment was the size of the bedroom closet. It was walk-in, with rods on either side, shelving above, and even a window that looked outside. Rory could be weird. Maybe he lay within, naked and waiting, ready to pull out all the stops on yet another fantasy.

But the empty closet mocked him. Where was he?

Cole retreated from the bedroom. “Rory? Babe?” Cole made a quick tour of the small apartment, knowing as he did it that the search would be wasted effort. And it was. Rory wasn’t in the living room, the dining room, kitchen, or bathroom.

Cole returned to the bedroom and ran his hands along the top of the dresser. Rory usually left his wallet and keys on top of it. But just like the rest of his search, this maneuver was only an empty gesture. Rory’s keys and wallet were gone, indicating he was still out there somewhere.

That was odd. Cole glanced at the alarm clock on the nightstand and saw it was approaching twelve thirty. Cole knew Rory had to be up early for work in the morning—he had flex hours at his job and liked to work the earlier spectrum—usually seven thirty to four. And Rory loved his sleep! Sometimes he dragged Cole to bed as early as nine o’clock. Cole never complained.

So what was he doing out so late on a school night?

Cole plopped down on the bed, head in his hands. Don’t panic. Don’t even worry. It’s most likely nothing at all. Maybe he got over his aversion to gay bars and is down on Halsted Street, living it up, downing shots backed up by beers. The thought made him chuckle, as that scenario was about as likely as Cole being on a jet bound for Paris, France. Still, in spite of its improbability, the notion did cause a stab of jealousy to jab at Cole—right in his solar plexus. Sure, Rory might be one of the few gay men their age Cole knew who actually didn’t like to go out to bars, but he still could have. It was possible, as he might say if queried on a witness stand in some court of law. Cole felt sick to his stomach as he allowed himself to think what was lurking at the back of his mind, like some black shadow. It was also possible that Rory had gone out and hooked up with someone and lost track of time.

Cole licked his lips, mouth suddenly dry. He had a lot of gay male friends and acquaintances and knew fidelity was a fairly rare thing, even among the ones who claimed to be in committed, monogamous relationships. Why, some of those fellas had even come on to Cole when the boyfriend was out of town or just out of the picture.

Maybe their relationship wasn’t as solid as Cole thought? Rory could have been tempted. It was possible. He was a cute guy who didn’t know it, which made him even cuter. He could see him being hit on— and maybe if he was lonely or bored, he might have given in? Are any of us truly immune to temptation?

No. Not Rory. Cole knew in his heart of hearts that Rory would never cheat. He just didn’t have it in him, literally or figuratively.

So where are you? Cole stood and began pacing. He pulled aside the sheet tacked up over the window to look outside, hoping against hope he’d see Rory down there on the beach. He did see someone, a guy, sitting on the sand at the edge of the beach, his feet pushed into the waves. But even from up there, Cole could tell the guy had at least fifty pounds on Rory, if not more. And he was smoking….

A woman walked by. A big dog, maybe a pit bull, dashed ahead of her, splashing at the edge of the surf. Cole could see the leash in her hand. She called the dog back, and it sounded to Cole like its name was Pashmina.

There was no one else on the beach this late.

 

 

Real Men. True Love.

Rick R. Reed draws inspiration from the lives of gay men to craft stories that quicken the heartbeat, engage emotions, and keep the pages turning. Although he dabbles in horror, dark suspense, and comedy, his attention always returns to the power of love. He’s the award-winning and bestselling author of more than fifty works of published fiction and is forever at work on yet another book. Lambda Literary has called him: “A writer that doesn’t disappoint…” You can find him at www.rickrreed.com or www.rickrreedreality.blogspot.com. Rick lives in Palm Springs, CA with his beloved husband.

FIND RICK ONLINE
Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/rickrreedbooks
Twitter: www.twitter.com/rickrreed
Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+RickReedWRITER
Blog: http://rickrreedreality.blogspot.com/
Website: www.rickrreed.com
Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/rick-r-reed
Email: rickrreedbooks@gmail.com

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A MelanieM Audiobook Review : I Heart Boston Terriers by Rick R. Reed and Tom Askin (Narrator)

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Rating: 2 stars out of 5

Love at first sight can work for dogs as well as humans.

When Aaron finds Mavis, an emaciated and timid Boston terrier, at a pet adoption fair, his heart goes out to her—irrevocably.

When Christian, who is manning the adoption fair for the Humane Society that fateful autumn Saturday, finds Aaron, his heart goes out to him—irrevocably.

I Heart Boston Terriers is all about embracing love, whether it’s for someone who walks on four legs, or someone who walks on two. The Boston terrier Mavis’ journey back to wholeness and finding her forever home runs parallel to the story of two men discovering one another at just that perfect moment—a moment that defies logic, propriety, and common sense.

But then when do the dictates of love follow a rational course?

Come along for a journey about a man and his dog and see how that journey teaches him the truth about love and making a caring connection that just might last a lifetime.

I have listened to other of Rick R Reed’s contemporary romances that had dogs at the heart of the stories and loved them so I was particularly looking forward to I heart Boston Terriers.  After all Reed’s own Lily is well known so I knew his affection for the breed and love for her would carry over into the story.  Which it did.

In fact, for me, Mavis is the most endearing character here and the one I connected with the most.  Everyone else I had an issue with, but Mavis?  Nope, absolutely loved and deeply care for this abused creature looking for her forever home who for better or worse ended up with Aaron and his sister (who I disliked the most) as a impulse adoption.

Ok, now see, all my dogs are rescues.  At adoption fairs here, minimum fees start at $250 not $75 but that could differ state by state.  There are home visits, all sorts of things to make sure that the people adopting the animals are a good fit.  Some of that comes across here, in that yes, they would have taken Mavis back (most rescue agencies will).  But sending a dog home with somebody who doesn’t have the means to support him?  And who is living with someone else?  Uh no.  Red flags all around.

I actually liked Aaron for realizing he wasn’t ready to adopt a dog but instead his sister pushed him into the adoption.  That sister.  Ok, honestly, this whole thing with Mavis would have ruined any relationship I would have had with that sister.  But some things just didn’t ring true.  She’s supposedly a “shoe whore” who overspends because she must have her designer shoes.  Got that.  But people that crazy over shoes handle them in certain ways.  Even in a one room apartment, those shoes are gods!  They buy even the poorest of shoe racks, keep them pristinely in their boxes, labeled.  I mean, honey, those are Jimmy Choos! Or Manolo Blahniks or whatever designer brands you  covet.  What you do not do?  Lay them on the floor for a traumatized dog to destroy.  Not in a million years.  Especially her favorites.  So she can overreact like a total horror of a sibling, throw out all sorts of dire threats, use the imbalance of power that should ruin any relationship permanently against her brother, and genuinely create a nightmare where none was needed.

A total turn off.

The relationship between Aaron and Christian didn’t strike as me as better because instead of helping Aaron, Christian seemed too busy trying to get into Aaron’s pants.  How about just helping Aaron and Mavis because they needed help?  What a novel idea.

So yes, Christian had a heart, volunteered at a rescue organization but he seemed to push his own agenda first.

Then there was that ending or lack of one for both Aaron and Mavis.  This is one book where  an epilogue was definitely called for.

Finally, there was the narration.  It was the first time I had listened to a story narrated by Tom Askin and I’m not sure I would do so again.  His narration and voices just didn’t work for me.  Combine that with a story that I was also having issues with and you come up with an audiobook I just can’t recommend.

If you love the writing of Rick R. Reed and dog stories, check out Lost and Found on audiobook and give this a pass.

Cover art: Reese Dante.  I loved this cover.  It, as well as the blurb, drew me to the story.  Heartwarming and perfect in every way.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon | Audible | iTunes

Audiobook Details:

Listening Time: 1hr., 43 min.

Audible Audio, Unabridged, 2 pages
Published February 22nd 2018 by Dreamspinner Press (first published January 12th 2012)
ASINB079YB2QDT
Edition LanguageEnglish

A MelanieM Audiobook Review: ​Lost and Found by Rick R. Reed and Narrator: Michael Neeb

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

On a bright autumn day, Flynn Marlowe lost his best friend, a beagle named Barley, while out on a hike in Seattle’s Discovery Park.

On a cold winter day, Mac Bowersox found his best friend, a lost, scared, and emaciated beagle, on the streets of Seattle.

Two men. One dog. When Flynn and Mac meet by chance in a park the next summer, there’s a problem—who does Barley really belong to? Flynn wants him back, but he can see that Mac rescued him and loves him just as much as he does. Mac wants to keep the dog, and he can imagine how heartbreaking losing him would be—but that’s just what Flynn experienced.

A “shared custody” compromise might be just the way to work things out. But will the arrangement be successful? Mac and Flynn are willing to try it—and along the way, they just might fall in love.

Rick R. Reed loves dogs, being happily owned by one himself.  And it shines through every story of his that has a canine element to it.  It’s especially clear in Lost and Found where a beagle, named Barley or Hamburger depending upon the person,  provides the bridge to romance, love, and HEA.

Here one Barley gets lost by one Flynn, found by Mac he turns into Hamburger.  One beagle beloved by two men.  But when Flynn happens upon  his beloved beagle in the  company of Mac, all the lost,, the  pain and guilt involved in not being able to find his Bailey comes rushing back.  And of course, Mac doesn’t want to lose his “Hamburger”.

Reed does a wonderful job of portraying the angst and battle involved when it comes down to our feelings for our animals.  They are an important part of us and recognizing that fact helps us understand Mac’s actions better.  We can at least empathize a little even as we recognize that he took the wrong path and then couldn’t stop.

I appreciated the slow approach to romance between the two main characters but wish that Reed had given us more insight into Flynn or at least as much as he did with Mac.  It would have helped make Flynn’s ease in decision making towards the end more grounded and realistic.  I wanted to know more about his job and how he felt about it and his friends.  Instead we are heavy on Mac’s side of the story and it sort of feels off kilter at the end.

Narrator Michael Neeb does an incredible job with the voices and the story.  I fell effortlessly into Lost and Found, pulled into the characters that Neeb’s voice created for me along with Reed’s heartwarming, sweet tale of  two men, one happy beagle and their HEA.

Cover art: Reese Dante.  I love this cover.  It’s just perfect for the characters, and storyline.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon | Audible |iTunes

Audiobook Details:

Audible Audio Edition
Listening Length: 4 hours and 52 minutes
Program Type: Audiobook
Version: Unabridged
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press LLC
Audible.com Release Date: December 28, 2017
Language: English
ASIN: B078MQ29SR

A MelanieM Advent Release Day Review: An Open Window by Rick R. Reed

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Two men. One Christmas Eve that changes the courses of both their lives.

Henry’s homeless and only wants a warm place to sleep on the coldest night of the year. A forgotten open window in a darkened house entices Henry inside with the promise of warmth and comfort. He knows it’s wrong, but he promises himself he’ll be out before the owner wakes on Christmas morning. Except he oversleeps and the homeowner, Jim, discovers a bearded stranger sawing logs under his dining room table. When the shock and the drama that ensues dies down, Henry and Jim discover that they might have found, quite unexpectedly, the Christmas miracle they’d both been longing for—love and home.

Short, heartbreakingly sweet,  and perfect for the holidays!  All that absolutely describes Rick R. Reed’s Christmas short story An Open Window.  The  author had me blubbering and reaching for the tissue box by the second paragraph and kept me sniffling all through this wonderful, heart tugging holiday romance.

It’s poignant, puts certain things into perspective and yet still leaves the reader enveloped in love and warm feelings and this couple with their HEA.  I definitely recommend you put this on  your  Christmas list of stories to read, but make sure you add a packet or two of tissues to go along with it.

Cover art by Paul Richmond.  It’s the  2017 Advent Stocking Stuffer Overall Cover filled with humor and good cheer!

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 21 pages
Published December 1st 2017 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN13 9781640803503
Edition Language English

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Release Day Review: I Heart Boston Terriers by Rick R. Reed

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Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

A sweet little snippet about love for a dog who needs a second chance and for a man who needs one as well.  In honor of the author’s Boston Terrier, Lily, who is well known to those of us who follow his social media, Mr. Reed has created a darling love story sure to whet the appetite of those who love MM romance and those who love their pups. 

Aaron accompanied his sister to the pet store to buy supplies for her cat and they both fell in love with a timid little Boston Terrier who was quaking in fear in her cage.  Aaron also caught the attention of the handsome guy who was volunteering with the Humane Society and between the two positive forces—man and beast—he was toast.  Even though he’s with his sister because his relationship broke up, and he’s virtually homeless and jobless, that cute guy did indeed catch his attention.

When he brings the dog home, her fear keeps her under his sister’s bed and out of Aaron’s arms.  Thankfully, whether appropriate or not, the good-looking volunteer calls him to see how Mavis the dog is doing, and one thing leads to another, and before you know it, the two men are out walking the dog and exploring their mutual attraction.  After a bit of trouble earlier in the day, Mavis already had two legs out the door—it seems she ate his sister’s Jimmy Choo shoes—an incredibly bad move, so a walk seems appropriate.  As the men walk, they talk, and again one thing leads to another, and they’re caught en flagrante when his sister returns home. 

This is a very short story, but full of sweetness and possibility—both for the dog and for Aaron’s future.  The only negative for me is the behavior change in Aaron’s sister.  One day she encourages him to get the dog and insists it won’t be an issue, even though they’ll be sharing a studio apartment, and the next she’s totally against the dog and wants her returned. Granted, the shoes were a huge issue for her, but the way she continued to insist the dog be sent back seemed over-the-top.   I guess it was needed for plot flow but not my cuppa, so it kept my rating closer to a three.  On the other hand, I do think the story is well-worth reading, and I recommend it to brighten an otherwise gloomy day, especially for all dog lovers. 

~~~~

The cover by Reese Dante features two handsome men whose pictures are superimposed over a foreground picture of a Boston terrier.  The word Heart in the title is also accompanied by a heart symbol so the cover does attract attention and it clearly represents the story.   

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 2nd Edition, 54 pages
Expected publication: September 20th 2017 by Dreamspinner Press (first published January 12th 2012)
ISBN139781634774017
Edition Language English

A MelanieM Release Day Review: M4M by Rick R. Reed

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Rating: 4..75 stars out of 5

2nd Edition 

Finding and keeping love can be a challenge in the modern world of blogging, social media, and online dating, as one man will learn in this trilogy.

VGL Male Seeks Same

Poor Ethan Schwartz. At forty-two, he’s alone, his bed is empty, and his HDTV is overworked. He’s tried bars and other places where gay men are supposed to find each other, but it never works out. Maybe he should get a cat?

But his life is about to change…

NEG UB2

Poor Ethan. He’s received the most shocking news a gay man can get—he’s HIV positive. Until today his life was perfect, with a job he loves and Brian, who could be “the one.” The one to complete him and fill his lonely life with laughter, hot sex, and romance.

But Ethan’s in for another shock. Could Brian have infected him?

STATUS UPDATES

Alone again, Ethan wonders if life is worth living, even with a cat. When an old nemesis sends a Facebook friend request, Ethan is suspicious but intrigued. It seems this old acquaintance has turned his life around, and the changes might hold the key to Ethan getting a new lease on life… and love.

I  truly can’t imagine reading M4M by Rick R. Reed as anything except one deeply moving story…to me it doesn’t even register as three separate tales. Rather three stages in one man’s life, two so heartrending that the tissues seemed inadequate at times to stop the amount of tears that flowed.  Even now just thinking about Ethan and his journey, I start to choke up which is funny because I wasn’t sure I was even going to connect with Ethan at the beginning.  Or even like him.

That would be at the start of VGL Male Seeks Same when Ethan wants to date and after a shocking lack of response on a dating website, makes a rash decision.  This section of M4M made it harder for me to connect with Ethan.  Understand him? Yes, but like him?  Not quite.  That came at towards the end of this section of Ethan’s life when everything changed for him and me as a reader.  I started to love Ethan which made the next two section all the more moving and devastating.

Rick R. Reed does a beautiful job of making me love all the people who surround Ethan too.  Ok maybe not Bubbles at the beginning.  But Brian, how I took Brian into my heart.  And Jan?  I’d love to have Jan as my friend.  They also hold the key to making M4M so real, so poignant and moving that I can guarantee it and these characters will stay with you long after the stories are done. The church aspect as a panacea is an element that I didn’t really connect with but that doesn’t matter.  It was the vehicle that delivered Ben and hope to Ethan and that’s what counts.

M4M by Rick R. Reed is a beautifully written, incredibly moving story about love found, profound loss,  grief, recovery and the ability to find hope and perhaps love once more.  That it includes two men who are HIV positive?  Part of the huge picture, not the picture itself….that was part of their individual story and journey too.  The HIV element seemed authentic (as it should…read the author’s note), but M4M is about life.  Ethan’s life.  It’s a story you will want to read about, a man you will want to get to know.  Have your tissues handy!

Cover art by Reese Dante is perfect for the story.

Buy links:

Ebook: https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/m4m-by-rick-r-reed-8647-b

Paperback:  https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/m4m-by-rick-r-reed-8648-b

Amazon Kindle: https://www.amazon.com/M4M-Rick-R-Reed-ebook/dp/B0732LXD95

Book Details:

ebook, 2nd edition, 200 pages
Expected publication: July 10th 2017 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN139781635335422
Edition LanguageEnglish
URLhttps://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/m4m-by-rick-r-reed-8647-b

STRW Interviews Rick R Reed: Characters, Influences and his romance trilogy ‘M4M’ out now!

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M4M by Rick R. Reed
Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Reese Dante

Release Date July 10, 2017

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Dreamspinner Ebook | Dreamspinner Paperback | Amazon Kindle

Amazon Paperback

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Rick R. Reed here today answering questions and sharing insights into his latest release M4M. Welcome, Rick!

✍🏼

An Interview with Rick R. Reed, author of the trilogy of romance, M4M

How much of yourself goes into a character?

Well, if you’re talking about Ethan Schwartz, my romantic underdog hero who’s central to all three of the stories in M4M, he and I do share certain similarities.

At the start of the book, in VGL Male Seeks Same, he’s looking for love online. I know first-hand how daunting, terrifying, frustrating, and exciting that can be. But I do believe in online romance because I met my husband fifteen years ago on an online dating site. So, I know it can lead to true love!

The middle of the book (NEG UB2) occurs some years later when the love Ethan finds in the first part becomes strained when Ethan is diagnosed HIV-positive. I also am HIV-positive (and have been healthy and undetectable for over seventeen years now—thank God), so I know the terror that comes with that diagnosis. My heart went out to Ethan as he deals with his health status and the fear that the man he loves betrayed him. The story is a true test of love.

The last part of the trilogy that I call M4M is called Status Updates to reflect our current social media centralization into our daily lives, my own included. Social media can be a double-edged sword, bringing people from your past into your life. On the one hand, things like Facebook can be a wonderful way to reconnect—and even find the road back to love, if you’ve been hurt as Ethan was. On the other hand, it can easily bring someone back into your life that you aren’t sure you ever wanted there in the first place. That’s the crux of my story, which, oddly enough, reflects my own spiritual journey.

Do you feel there’s a tight line between Mary Sue or should I say Gary Stu and using your own experiences to create a character?

In everything I write and every character I breathe life into, there has to be a part of me in order for him or her to become real. So yes, I draw from my own life, but the comparisons, even if you know me well, may not be so apparent. That’s because similarities from my own life and that of a character can be metaphorical or symbolic. But I think any writer would be hard-pressed not to draw from his/her frame of reference when creating a character.

Has your choice of childhood or teenage reading genres carried into your own choices for writing?

Well, when it comes to my horror and dark psychological suspense, yes. As a kid, I was obsessed with horror movies, books, and TV shows (I was a huge fan of Dark Shadows). Romance, though, I didn’t really get into until I was much older, and I wanted to bring love stories that would resonate with gay people to life because those stories aren’t told as much in mainstream fiction.

Do you like HFN or HEA? And why?

Yes, because it gives people (myself included) hope. I believe very strongly in intention and how our own thinking shapes the reality we get and, with that in mind, HEA or even HFN is a given.

Who do you think is your major influence as a writer?  Now and growing up?

My main influences are Patricia Highsmith, Flannery O’Connor, Stephen King, and Ruth Rendell, all have a twisted and dark world view, but in the end, I think, they all believe in redemption—and so do I.

How do you feel about the ebook format and where do you see it going?

It’s here to stay. Personally, I love it and seldom even read a paper book anymore. In fact, I’ve bought ebooks of paper books I’ve gotten as gifts because I know I won’t read the paper book because I’m so used to the ease and convenience of ebooks.

How do you choose your covers?  (curious on my part)

Most of my work is published by Dreamspinner Press, and I’m blessed to work with Reese Dante, who’s just amazing and wonderful—extremely talented. We usually huddle on what I want to get across, what my characters look like, and tone. Reese takes it from there and usually sends me dozens of stock photos of handsome male models to look at (such hard work!) to help find the best fit for the characters. But she’s truly inspired and I love every cover she’s done for me. The more we work together, the more we think almost as one, so that’s really nice.

What’s next for you as an author?

I have a short coming out in September called I Heart Boston Terriers. It’s about how a rescue dog brings two men together. I just got the cover and it’s amazing. I can’t share it, but can tell you it features my own Boston terrier, Lily, on the cover (by Reese Dante).

BLURB

Finding and keeping love can be a challenge in the modern world of blogging, social media, and online dating, as one man will learn in this trilogy.

VGL Male Seeks Same

Poor Ethan Schwartz. At forty-two, he’s alone, his bed is empty, and his HDTV is overworked. He’s tried bars and other places where gay men are supposed to find each other, but it never works out. Maybe he should get a cat?

But his life is about to change…

NEG UB2

Poor Ethan. He’s received the most shocking news a gay man can get—he’s HIV positive. Until today his life was perfect, with a job he loves and Brian, who could be “the one.” The one to complete him and fill his lonely life with laughter, hot sex, and romance.

But Ethan’s in for another shock. Could Brian have infected him?

STATUS UPDATES

Alone again, Ethan wonders if life is worth living, even with a cat. When an old nemesis sends a Facebook friend request, Ethan is suspicious but intrigued. It seems this old acquaintance has turned his life around, and the changes might hold the key to Ethan getting a new lease on life… and love.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Real Men. True Love.

Rick R. Reed draws inspiration from the lives of gay men to craft stories that quicken the heartbeat, engage emotions, and keep the pages turning. Although he dabbles in horror, dark suspense, and comedy, his attention always returns to the power of love. He’s the award-winning and bestselling author of more than fifty works of published fiction and is forever at work on yet another book. Lambda Literary has called him: “A writer that doesn’t disappoint…” You can find him at www.rickrreed.com or www.rickrreedreality.blogspot.com. Rick lives in Palm Springs, CA with his beloved husband and their Boston terrier.

FIND RICK ONLINE