Monday, May 1, 2017

The Perils of Intimacy by Rick R. Reed

Jimmy and Marc make an adorable couple. Jimmy’s kindness and clean-cut cuteness radiate out of him like light. Marc, although a bit older, complements Jimmy with his humor and his openness to love.

But between them, a dark secret lurks, one with the power to destroy.

See, when Marc believes he’s meeting Jimmy for the first time in the diner where he works, he’s wrong.

Marc has no recollection of their original encounter because the wholesome Jimmy of today couldn’t be more different than he was two years ago. Back then, Jimmy sported multiple piercings, long bleached dreadlocks, and facial hair. He was painfully skinny—and a meth addict. The drug transformed him into a different person—a lying, conniving thief who robbed Marc blind during their one-night stand.

Marc doesn’t associate the memory of a hookup gone horribly wrong with this fresh-faced, smiling twentysomething… but Jimmy knows. As they begin a dance of love and attraction, will Jimmy be brave enough to reveal the truth? And if he does, will Marc be able to forgive him? Can he see Jimmy for the man he is now and not the addict he was? The answers will depend on whether true love holds enough light to shine through the darkness of past mistakes.

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Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

4 Angsty Stars

The Perils of Intimacy is a difficult book to review, because to give certain plot points away will spoil the journey. The author doesn't outright explain Jimmy's first encounter with Marc until nearly halfway into the book, so out of respect for the author and my fellow readers, I'm going to try my best to avoid it.

Jimmy is a recovering addict, trying to get his life in order – he works at a local diner and lives with another man who's in recovery, both for the support and the companionship. Marc shows up to eat breakfast, and Jimmy recognizes him from two years prior. The heat and intensity is instantaneous between the two – a nice bit of banter and humor. Jimmy is thankful, yet struggling, over the fact that Marc doesn't recognize Jimmy.

The journey is more about Jimmy's struggle with addiction. I give a solid five stars on the portrayal, and mad props to the author for not dumbing down, or lessening the dark and gritty of the reality of addiction. Through the arc of the book, there are ups and downs with Jimmy's journey, yet there is always an underlying sense of hope.

The romance, which is why I can't hand out a 5-star review, it felt like a passenger to Jimmy's addiction – a byproduct. I'm pleased it didn't overshadow such an important message, though. But I do have to rate how the romance was executed.

Jimmy obviously has issues with his recent past, and the few pages where he shared his childhood with Marc was the only true intimacy in the novel. I felt more intimacy between Jimmy and Miriam, Jimmy and the new kid, Jimmy and his roommate, than I did between Jimmy and Marc. It was as if, after their two destined meetings, the connection was instantaneous and it was love-at-first-sight, and no more work was done to solidify them as a couple. Yes, there was angst when the truth finally came out, which I loved, but the resolution was just 'Okay, we're past that – we're together now.' I apologize for going on a tangent. I just felt the romance suffered due to the focus on Jimmy's addiction, and the wonderful character building and connection Jimmy had with everyone BUT Marc.

I enjoyed both Marc and Jimmy, but found their inner monologue difficult to wade through – it became repetitious and bogged the story down a bit. When in inner-monologue-mode, their voices seemed to meld into more of the author's voice. I'm not saying that is a bad thing, as I do enjoy Reed's writing style and voice. But other than whatever the character was angsting over, it sounded too similar to stay in character with the narrator. There was an abundance of inner monologue by both narrators.

Overall, I enjoyed The Perils of Intimacy. As I said, I found the author's take on addiction done with compassion, research, highly realistic, and pulled no punches. Being that the title is focusing on Intimacy, I felt the romance, the connection and intimacy between the two narrators should have been stronger.

I do believe MM Romance fans will adore Jimmy and Marc. For obvious reasons, those who find addiction a trigger while reading will want to avoid this book. I look forward to whatever Rick R. Reed publishes next.

I am not sure how I feel about this book. It was 200 pages, but I don't feel like I really know Jimmy or Marc. I mean yes, I know Jimmy is a former drug user who hasn't used in two years, it is hard to forget when it is mentioned every other sentence it seems. Marc, he is shy and feels old and doesn't know why Jimmy would want him. I wanted to know more about them, see more of them together, and less about the former drug abuse. The book had potential, just fell short for me.

4.5 Stars

I have to admit that I will pick up any book that Rick R. Reed writes. I am a huge fan of his. Some of his stories are more romance focused than others and this is one where there is most definitely something more important than the budding relationship between the two men.

Jimmy is dealing with a crystal meth addiction. He's been clean for two years, but that doesn't mean that temptation isn’t there always trying to pull him back into its grips. We watch as Jimmy deals with a bunch of ups and downs, and learn about a woman who has helped him through a lot, as well as his roommate. There are a few surprises there so I don't want to say much, but I give applause for Mr. Reed capturing the true struggles of an addict and showing just how much it can take over a person's life, even when they have gotten clean.

Jimmy and Marc have met in the past; however, it seems that Marc doesn't realize it. Jimmy doesn't want Marc to remember their first time together. He feels a special connection to Marc that he doesn't want tarnished by their past. Too bad Marc does finally put it together and we finally get to learn what was so bad about their first connection.

While I really enjoyed the story, I certainly felt like the relationship was a side story instead of the headliner, so I marked it down a bit for that. I personally feel like it is a great story that shows everything an addiction can do and how past choices never really go away and neither does the desire to use, not entirely.

RICK R. REED is all about exploring the romantic entanglements of gay men in contemporary, realistic settings. While his stories often contain elements of suspense, mystery, and the paranormal, his focus ultimately returns to the power of love. He is the author of dozens of published novels, novellas, and short stories. He is a three-time EPIC eBook Award winner (for Caregiver, Orientation, and The Blue Moon Cafe). His novel, Raining Men, won the Rainbow Award for Best Contemporary General Fiction. Lambda Literary Review has called him, “a writer that doesn’t disappoint.” Rick lives in Seattle with his husband and a very spoiled Boston terrier. He is forever “at work on another novel.”

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Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of The Perils of Intimacy by Rick R. Reed to read and review.

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