Rick R. Reed; ebook, 210 pages
Published October 24th 2011 by Dreamspinner Press
It’s 1991, and Dan Calzolaio has just moved to Florida with his lover, Mark, having fled Chicago and Mark’s addictions to begin a new life on the Gulf Coast. Volunteering for the Tampa AIDS Alliance is just one part of that new beginning, and that’s how Dan meets his new buddy, Adam.
Adam Schmidt is not at all what Dan expected. The guy is an original—witty, wry, and sarcastic with a fondness for a smart black dress, Barbra Streisand, and a good mai tai. Adam doesn’t let his imminent death get him down, even through a downward spiral that sees him thrown in jail.
Each step of Adam’s journey teaches Dan new lessons about strength and resilience, but it’s Adam’s lover, Sullivan, to whom Dan feels an almost irresistible pull. Dan knows the attraction isn’t right, even after he dumps his cheating, drug-abusing boyfriend. But then Adam passes away, and it leaves Sullivan and Dan both alone to see if they can turn their love for Adam into something whole and real for each other.
Wow. Just, wow. I’m writing this at 6 AM, after one emotionally exhausting reading session, for sure making it into a lot of top 10 of the year. I think this novel set a new record for how many times I cried during one reading session. I’m still emotionally ruffled, so if I don’t make as much sense as I think I do, I humbly ask for your forgiveness.
In all honestly, I wanted to read and review this as soon as I read the blurb on NetGalley, I knew it wouldn’t be easy to read it because the topic of AIDS doesn’t exactly make for light reading, but aside my usual search for diversity, I had a feeling this novel would be a very good read. It turned out to be not good, but absolutely fantastic, and I’m not thinking of the m/m romance area only when I say this, I’m thinking about all books. And though I knew it would be dramatic and I sort of prepared myself for it or at least I thought I had, it turned out I couldn’t have been prepared enough; hell, I just read it and I’m not sure I’ll be prepared for it when I’ll reread it (and it’s very probably going to happen soon).
The story is absolutely heart-wrenching and at the same time happy, but la piece de resistance here, in my opinion, are the characters. Adam and his smart mouth, Sullivan and his caring, Dan and his generosity, Mark and his courage; each one of them are characters that I admire, each one of them for basically different reasons. In the mids of sorrow, torment and death, blooms beautiful love. This novel is a study of love and its resilience in the most dire of circumstances, and it’s not always going to be easy – or rather it will most often be hard, but even when it’s excruciatingly hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel, love will gingerly take you by the hand and show you the way. Regardless of raging storms the sky returns to shining, despite horrible circumstances and pain, love enriches your heart.
I could talk about each of the four guys and rant and rave and fangirl, yes, even about Mark, but I’m not going to spell anything out for you guys. You go and read this, it’s a mature plot by depth of view and topics it brings forth, but not graphic, it’s a beautiful romance entwined with pain and trials, but isn’t that how life is as well?
The “Do you know what ‘gay’ stands for?” little joke, or whatever it’s supposed to be, was sickening, and it actually had my stomach roiling. I think this little “joke” will remain ingrained in my mind, it shocked me to the core. There were many memorable scenes and lines that will stay with me, and attitudes that the characters had, and I believe they offer you as reader a poignant perspective on life, love and death. This is a book from the heart and for the heart
I found the writing to be really beautiful, delicate but effective in building the atmosphere around you and showing off different sides to situations and characters. I cannot begin to tell you how beautiful this novel is, it’s stupendous, you just have to read it or you’ll be missing out big time. Don’t shy away from the difficult points it raises, be brave and read it, feel it, live it in your heart, I’m sure you will love it just as much as I did.