Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Blue Umbrella Sky by Rick R. Reed

Milt Grabaur has left his life, home, and teaching career in Ohio to start anew. The Summer Winds trailer park in Palm Springs, butted up against the San Jacinto mountain range, seems the perfect place to forget the pain of nursing his beloved husband through Alzheimer’s and seeing him off on his final passage.

Billy Blue is a sexy California surfer type who once dreamed of being a singer but now works at Trader Joe’s and lives in his own trailer at Summer Winds. He’s focused on recovery from the alcoholism that put his dreams on hold.

When his new neighbor moves in, Billy falls for the gray-eyed man. His sadness and loneliness awaken something Billy’s never felt before—real love.

When a summer storm and flash flood jeopardize Milt’s home, Billy comes to the rescue, hoping the two men might get better acquainted… and maybe begin a new romance.

But Milt’s devotion to his late husband is strong, and he worries that acting on his attraction will be a betrayal.

Can they lay down their baggage and find out how redemptive love can be?

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Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

This is the slow, reflective story of two neighbours who meet while rebuilding their lives. Milt is a widower still grieving his ex-husband and Billy is a recovering alcoholic.

As the blurb suggests, this is a gritty, angsty read. A compilation of memories, reflections, and small shared moments, most of the story takes place in the past as Milt – and often Billy too – seems to live inside his own head. Milt’s experience of dementia is raw and real. I think his reflections will ring true for anyone with personal experience of the disease. As he starts to surface from his grief, there are moments when his loyalty to his husband wars against his need to live and his growing attraction to Billy.

We don’t see quite as much of Billy as we do of Milt, but his experiences are equally heartbreaking. The age gap makes sense as both men are in an almost transient stage of rebuilding. I love how Billy is beautiful and shiny on the outside but emotionally scarred and wary of being hurt again.

This is a more mature second-chance romance that will probably appeal to older readers. It’s a slow read with little action. There is almost no heat in the connection between Milt and Billy and there’s very little traditional romance. Milt and Billy fumble towards each other first as neighbours, then as friends, and finally, maybe as something more. I love the connection they share, and I really enjoy the way both men feel very real and very human. I love the growth we see in both men throughout the story and I love the thread of hope that weaves through their attempts to restart their lives.

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…”

Rick lives in Palm Springs, CA with his beloved husband and their Boston terrier.

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Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of Blue Umbrella Sky by Rick R. Reed to read and review.

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