Author: Rick R. Reed
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Jimmy and Mark make an adorable couple. Jimmy’s kindness and clean-cut cuteness radiate out of him like light. Mark, 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 Mark believes he’s meeting Jimmy for the first time in the diner where he works, he’s wrong.
Mark 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 Mark blind during their one-night stand.
Mark 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 Mark 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.
A powerfully moving story, this is told in first person POV—something I don’t usually like, but I found it to be perfect for conveying the character’s thoughts and emotions in this story.
When Jimmy spots Mark in the restaurant where he waits tables he’s immediately attracted to the older man—a silver fox with bright eyes staring right back at him. Flirting comes easy to the twenty-three-year-old Jimmy, even though he doesn’t expect the cute guy to flirt back. But there’s something about the man that’s familiar and Jimmy can’t deny his attraction.
Marc is equally attracted to Jimmy. Though older, he’s a single gay man who’s rather shy and to be shown such interest by a cute young guy is flattering. Encouraged by his coworker, Marc decides to ask Jimmy out and the two find they could easily spend an enjoyable evening without sex. But Jimmy has a secret and when he realizes that Marc was one of the tricks he robbed a few years ago while heavily using and dealing meth, he tries to decide whether or not to go forward or to back off and not disrupt the status quo.
Sometimes decisions are out of our hands, and fate steps in to bring them closer. And then that same nasty fate steps in to drive them apart. A highly emotional story, the author does an excellent job getting inside the psyche of an addict, exploring the very good person who lives inside the very out-of-control, drug-induced behavior person who manifests a totally different personality.
This story really hit me in the gut. I know addiction. I’ve lived with it. I’ve worked with recovering addicts and alcoholics, and I’m intimately familiar with not only the 12-step recovery programs, but also with the guilt and remorse that comes when one is finally free of the substance and is able to look at the behaviors they’ve been taking as “the norm.” Showing the MC as being involved in a 12-step program is a very positive action, and one not all authors include when they portray those in recovery. For many, it’s the only chance they have to lose that sense of loneliness that leads to self-pity and despair. So I’m stopping a moment to send kudos and heartfelt thanks to you, Rick Reed.
This is such a realistic portrayal of addiction that being inside Jimmy’s head when he was at the bathhouse was very emotional for me. That segment of the story truly portrayed the “stinkin’ thinkin’” so many in early recovery fall into. Justified behaviors war with self-caretaking and it’s a difficult choice for many. I do want to add this warning to readers, however: Those in recovery from drug addiction should be sure to have strong recovery under their belt and their support system standing by as the author takes us to the depths of despair with a very realistic portrayal of drug paraphernalia, the effects of the drug on the system as the high commences, and the struggle to use, even after establishing time in recovery. On the one hand, the descriptions were powerful, spot-on, and outstanding, and on the other, it was very scary and could trigger some readers newly in recovery or struggling with addiction. Please don’t get me wrong—I appreciate every word the author wrote, and I’m impressed by how accurately he portrays the struggle. I just needed to offer a warning to those who might not be able to read that section.
I also appreciated Marc’s own self-exploration and his realization that the excessive sex he sought in the past may have been beyond the norm. The time the men took to explore their issues, and the thoughtful way each was addressed honestly and thoroughly was exemplary. And, of course, my heart greatly appreciated their journey to forgiveness and their strong possibility of a HEA. And the bit of spiritual guidance through paranormal activity, which I won’t reveal in detail as it’s a spoiler, was the perfect touch.
I highly recommend this one to those who love a gritty, emotional MM romance. And if you like the works of Stephen King, you will likely appreciate that extra little touch this author, who I happen to know admires Mr. King, offers at the end of this story. Just sayin’.