“Drama is life with the dull parts left out.” ― Alfred Hitchcock
BLURB: Christmas, 1983: A young man, Robert, tends to his soul mate, Keith, who is dying from AIDS. Robert tries valiantly to make this a special Christmas for his lover, but loses the fight late Christmas night. Christmas, 2007: Robert ventures out late Christmas night and finds a young girl about to fling herself into the unforgiving waters of Lake Michigan. He rescues her, and the two form a bond forged from an odd feeling they share of familiarity, and even love. Neither understands it, since Jess is a lesbian and Robert has never been attracted to women. But there’s more … Jess begins having strange dreams, reliving key moments she couldn’t know about in Keith and Robert’s life and courtship. Robert and Jess begin to wonder if their inexplicable feelings might be rooted in something much more mystical than a savior/victim relationship. As the two move toward and pull away from each other, Ethan, Robert’s younger lover, plots the unthinkable. His crystal meth-addled mind becomes convinced there’s only one way to save himself, and that is through Robert’s destruction. Christmas 2007 spirals downward to a shattering climax in which both love and lives hang in the balance. There’s a murder attempt … salvation … redemption … And a new love is born.
REVIEW: The first chapter of this book takes place in 1983, and a young Robert has prepared a wonderful Christmas dinner for his lover, Keith, and himself. He has also purchased presents, had trees delivered and decorated, and covered their apartment in Christmas cheer. Unfortunately, all of this preparation is going to waste. You see, his lover is dying. Shortly after meeting and falling in love, Keith and Robert discover that Keith is not only HIV positive, but he has AIDS and he is dying. Robert is beside himself with grief, but he wanted to have this one holiday with Keith before he passed. Late Christmas night Keith passes away.
The next chapter moves us forward in Robert’s story to Christmas 2007. Robert is twenty-four years older, he is financially sound, thanks to his inheritance from Keith, and he is living with a young man named Ethan. Over the years, Robert has lived with a string of young men, not falling in love with any of them. Ethan is much younger than Robert and is basically using him for his money. If that wasn’t bad enough, he believes Ethan is cheating on him also. The worst is when he overhears Ethan making a date with Tony on Christmas night. Robert is at the end of his rope, and he decides to leave the apartment for a walk to decide what to do about Ethan.
While walking toward the river, he sees a young woman ready to take her own life in much the same way he thought about killing himself twenty-four years ago. Robert has an indescribable need to help this woman. After talking her down, Robert starts getting to know Jess and for some strange reason, they are both drawn to one another. Jess starts to have some very strange dreams about Robert and herself, which she shares with Robert, and they find out she is seeing Robert and Keith from twenty-four years ago. They both make a conscious decision to see where this highly unusual relationship can go, which is crazy to both of them since not only is Robert gay but Jess is a lesbian. Neither of them have ever been romantically interested in the opposite sex, so they are both flying blind.
While things seem to be going well with Jess, Ethan is a whole different matter. Once Ethan goes through Robert’s financial papers, his drug addled mind is convinced that the only way to help himself is by killing Robert for the newly found insurance policy.
This book wasn’t a romance, but it was definitely a love story. It told of the love two men found after one night together more than two decades before. It also showed the lack of love Robert found after Keith died. Then there was the unconventional love story between Jess and Robert. Their love was true and strong, even if it wasn’t a romantic love. They both realized there was no chance they would have a standard love affair, but the affection they shared seemed enough.
I loved how this story made me feel things right along with the characters. There was love, loss, grief, desperation and loneliness. Rick R. Reed is such a wonderful author that these emotions will grab your heart and twist it. His words will put you right in the room with the characters, whether in the bath houses or the kitchen. You see what they see, you feel what they feel, and your heart either soars or breaks right along with them.
This book may not be for everyone, but I think if you give this one a read you might find something new that you didn’t expect. Thank you, Mr. Reed, for once again taking me on the journey with you.
P.S. I loved the cameo in this one from your own family :)