Friday, January 23, 2015

BLINK, My Latest Romance, Releases Today

Release day is always exciting, no matter how many stories I send out into the world. I woke up at 2:30 a.m. this morning, like a kid on Christmas, thinking about what today means. I hope you'll check out my latest. It's my most autobiographical love story (the first part, which takes place in 1981, anyway) and, perhaps, my most touching. If you believe in love and second chances, I think you'll love BLINK

Buy paperback from Dreamspinner Press
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BLURB
Life can change in the blink of an eye. That's a truth Andy Slater learns as a young man in 1982, taking the Chicago 'L' to work every morning. Andy's life is laid out before him: a good job, marriage to his female college sweetheart, and the white picket fence existence he believes in. But when he sees Carlos Castillo for the first time, Carlos’s dark eyes and Latin appeal mesmerize him. Fate continues to throw them together until the two finally agree to meet up. At Andy’s apartment, the pent-up passion of both young men is ignited, but is snuffed out by an inopportune and poorly-timed phone call. 



Flash forward to present day. Andy is alone, having married, divorced, and become the father of a gay son. He’s comfortable but alone and has never forgotten the powerful pull of Carlos’s gaze on the 'L' train. He vows to find him once more, hoping for a second chance. If life can change in the blink of an eye, what will the passage of thirty years do? To find out, Andy begins a search that might lead to heartache and disappointment or a love that will last forever….

 
EXCERPT
Part One: 1982

Chapter 1: Andy

TRANSFIXED. THAT’S the only word I can think of to describe the effect his eyes had on me. They were a trap snapping shut. It sounds schlocky, melodramatic, the stuff of bodice rippers, but it was true: they were mesmerizing. The irises were fashioned from dark chocolate, so dark it became impossible to distinguish the pupil. They were framed by lashes so black and thick that one might be tempted to imagine these tiny curls of hair were augmented with mascara.

But that was not the case. Carlos, as I would come to learn his name, was all man. The rest of him was pretty spectacular as well—and I’ll get to that—but his eyes were what really swept me up and, in a way, never let me go. Moth to the flame.

Can a person be hopelessly infatuated by just a look?

The answer stood but a few feet away from me that early morning in Chicago, on the ‘L’ train, what was once called the Douglas-O’Hare line. I was twenty-two years old and on my way to work at my first job ever, at a catalog house west of Chicago’s Loop where I was putting my BA in English to use as a copywriter. Back then, mornings I was bleary-eyed and hungry for more sleep. The ‘L’ cars were crowded, and the gentle rocking motion of the train encouraged further slumber.

But Carlos, and the connection our eyes made, snapped me right out of my reverie. Our gazes meeting for only a second was electric, elevating me out of the music I was listening to on my Sony Walkman—Human League’s Dare album. Is memory teasing me by making me think the song that coincided with my first glimpse of Carlos was “Don’t You Want Me”? Or would that be just too perfect, my memory’s way of romanticizing the moment? I do remember the book open in my lap, ignored, although it was one I have come to love and reread throughout the years—William Maxwell’s The Folded Leaf.

It’s been… what? A little more than thirty years since that morning, yet the memory of how he looked then is branded on my brain as if etched there by fire. That image is as clear as if he stood in front of me only yesterday.

It was cold. January. Carlos was bundled into a blue down-filled coat, a brightly colored striped muffler wrapped around his neck. Black jeans. I, who had been riding the train since I switched lines downtown, had a seat, but he stood across from me, jammed against the frost-etched doors, surrounded by people who now only appear to me as blurs.

He was tall, maybe a little over six feet. His eyes I’ve already told you about, but the whole package was about dark allure, exotic. I would later come to learn from him that he was Cuban, but then all I could do was drink in the simple beauty of this man. His hair was black silk. In accordance with the times, it was parted in the middle, feathered back, and just long enough to cover his earlobes. His skin was fine, nearly poreless, and a lovely shade of cafĂ© au lait. Broad shoulders strained the confines of his bundled-up winter coat.

In that instant when our eyes met, the connection was like a pulse that went straight to my heart. It lasted for only a second or maybe a bit longer, but in that short space of time, my fertile imagination pictured an entire future with this man. Days together strolling a beach as the surf from Lake Michigan pounded the shore. Nights together as Carlos, dark eyes penetrating my own green orbs, pounded me. Hey, I was twenty-two years old—the hormones were flowing freely.

Yes, I lusted for him. In a split second.

And then I tore my gaze away. Heat rose to my cheeks, burning, in spite of the close-to-zero temperatures just outside the train car windows.

He had caught me. Caught me staring. In that fleeting moment, he had read my mind and seen the lust in my heart. He recognized me as the shameful, perverted thing I was, the queer I kept so carefully hidden from everyone I knew.

He was sickened by it. Or maybe another scenario—he was amused. The latter option was no more comforting. I tried to swallow and found my throat and mouth dry. I chanced a quick glance over once more and saw he had opened the Sun-Times and was reading.

My thundering heart slowed a little, and my rational mind tried to soothe me. He doesn’t know. He’s just another stranger on the train.

But God! He’s beautiful.

I chastised myself. I couldn’t allow the luxury of thinking the way I did about Carlos, even if my reverie lasted for only seconds. I was engaged to be married to my college sweetheart, who was, at this very moment, on the suburban commuter train, the Chicago Northwestern, headed into the city for her job as a sales assistant at Merrill Lynch, from her parents’ home in Kenilworth.

Alison. I turned my face to the glass and watched the river of cars moving along on the Eisenhower expressway, trying hard to forget the effect just a look from a man on a train had on me. The power, the attraction, the undeniable need I had for his touch. Whether I would admit it to myself or not, I was starved for the attention.

Yet I couldn’t allow myself these things.

It wasn’t who I was. It went against everything everyone—friends and family alike—believed about me. It went against the grain of the Catholic Church I had been baptized and confirmed in.

My biggest fear then was, if people knew, would they still love me? And the other worse fear was my awful wondering if anyone really did love me, because no one knew the real me, that dark part of myself I tried so hard to deny.

I forced myself to think of Alison, to replace the darkly taunting and delicious image of Carlos with her fair hair and blue-gray eyes, the warmth of her smile. I reminded myself, yet again, of my love for this sweet young woman. I pulled up a memory of her visiting me in the small town of East Liverpool, Ohio on summer break when we were both still in school. My parents had been away, and we spent a lot of time doing what two healthy nineteen-year-olds did (another reason I could deny these gay urges that polluted my dreams and fantasies and gave me no rest). We shared a fancy dinner neither of us could afford at the time just outside Pittsburgh. We saw The In-Laws at a long-ago razed movie theater in downtown East Liverpool. We slept curled into each other’s arms on the twin bed in my boyhood bedroom, spoons in a drawer.

It was magic.

And I cried like a baby as I watched her drive off in the rental car to Pittsburgh International Airport. I longed for her. I wanted her back. I loved her so much.

Weren’t those tears proof of my heterosexuality? Weren’t the days and nights lost in passion with a woman evidence that I could not be the thing I feared most—a gay man?

Of course they were. I couldn’t be gay. I was engaged to be married in just a few months. We would have a big wedding in the Catholic church in Lake Forest. Surely being a happy husband and maybe, one day, father would erase these urges that plagued me, would make me whole, would make me normal.

Surely.

I would be cured.

It wasn’t a stretch. I enjoyed the sex I had with Alison. I loved her with all my soul. Just to spot her walking across campus toward me lifted my heart.

My breathing returned to normal. While I had been lost in thought, we had made several stops on the Congress West line. I looked over. Carlos had gotten off at one of those stops.

The space left by where he had stood seemed to stand out to me, shimmering. Vacant. Part of me wanted to run to the window to see if I could see him making his way along the concrete platform running between lanes of traffic. But I stayed put and tried to tell myself I was glad this temptation was gone.

Chicago is a city of several million, I reasoned.

You’ll never see him again.

The thought was both a relief and a terror.

BUT I did see him again. The next time was a couple of weeks later, maybe a little more. A morning that was a bit warmer but still gripped by winter’s persistent but dying fingers. This was a morning just like the last. Again I was lost in thought, my nose buried in another book. This time I think it was one of my guilty pleasures, Stephen King and his rabid dog story, Cujo. I don’t know if I was listening to music. I was probably thinking of the workday ahead and the copy that would need to be written for products like hair dryers and electric mixers. The crowd was undistinguished, a blur and press of humanity.

I had forgotten about Carlos and the morning a few weeks ago. Work, evenings with Alison, and plans for our wedding that coming summer consumed me, and I was grateful for the distraction.

But then I looked up from the horror of Mr. King and saw him, once again standing in the crowded space by the doors of the ‘L’ car. I think I glanced up because he was looking at me.

Our eyes met. All the forgetting I had done in the ensuing weeks since I had last seen him rushed away like water down a drain. Just a glimpse of him set my heart to racing, sent blood flowing elsewhere too—lower. He was every bit as handsome as I recalled, and his beauty struck me dumb. I think if he had asked what I was reading, I wouldn’t have known what to tell him. A rabid dog was no match for the electrifying eyes of the man across from me.

He smiled at me, just a glimmer, little more than a quick upturn of his full lips.

I turned away quickly to stare out the window. My face burned as my mind interpreted the smile. It was not, could not have been, a gesture of welcome or recognition. It was not a smile that said, “Hey, I think you’re cute too.”

No, it was an expression born of ridicule. It had to be. My self-loathing back then took that simple smile and twisted it into something ugly—a taunt. He was laughing at me. Laughing at the queer who dared to stare at him for just a little too long, giving his hopeless desire away. I burned with shame, and I dared not look back.

I attempted to return to my book, but I found myself reading the same sentence over and over, trying to make sense of it. I wanted to restore order in my world, to feel like I was the young man I wanted to be, the one the whole world believed I should be.

I got off the train at Cicero that morning feeling shaken, yet wondering which stop he had gotten off at.


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Monday, January 19, 2015

My psychic thriller, THIRD EYE, is on sale this week for 99 cents!

THIRD EYE, my psychic thriller that has been getting some stellar reviews, is on sale for a limited time for only 99 cents!

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Reviews says it’s “a riveting, nail-biting, thought-provoking, frightening thriller...much more than an M/M romance--it's a brilliant tale worthy of recognition on the NY Times Bestsellers List..." and MM Good Book Reviews calls THIRD EYE, "bloody brilliant...The suspense, the touch of romance, the secondary characters…hell, I loved every little bit..."

BLURB

Who knew that a summer thunderstorm and his lost little boy would conspire to change single dad Cayce D’Amico’s life in an instant? With Luke missing, Cayce ventures into the woods near their house to find his son, only to have lightning strike a tree near him, sending a branch down on his head.

When he awakens the next day in the hospital, he discovers he has been blessed or cursed—he isn't sure which—with psychic ability. Along with unfathomable glimpses into the lives of those around him, he’s getting visions of a missing teenage girl. When a second girl disappears soon after the first, Cayce realizes his visions are leading him to their grisly fates. Cayce wants to help, but no one believes him. The police are suspicious. The press wants to exploit him. And the girls' parents have mixed feelings about the young man with the "third eye."

 Cayce turns to local reporter Dave Newton and, while searching for clues to the string of disappearances and possible murders, a spark ignites between the two. Little do they know that nearby, another couple—dark and murderous—are plotting more crimes and wondering how to silence the man who knows too much about them.

 Buy from the publisher.     
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Friday, January 16, 2015

BLINK Gets an Awesome, 5-star, pre-publication review from OnTopDownUnder Reviews!

I'm extremely thrilled that BLINK's first review has surfaced, even though the book isn't officially out until January 23.

Cindi, at OnTopDownUnder Reviews says, "Highly recommended for anyone looking for a beautiful love story and who doesn’t mind watching the two men struggle for it along the way .... You’ll have to read the book to see what I mean. I promise you won’t be disappointed. The end result makes every single word written up to that point worth it. You know the saying that everything in life happens for a reason? That’s proven strongly in Blink. Had things gone as hoped for both Andy and Carlos in 1982, they would not have experienced – nor gained – a lot of what they did in the following three decades. Everyone lives with regrets, but when you gain something as special as these two men did – away from each other – you still have a lot to be thankful for. Again, you’ll have to read the book to understand that statement...."

You can read the whole review here.

Pre-order BLINK here.

BLURB

Life can change in the blink of an eye. That's a truth Andy Slater learns as a young man in 1982, taking the Chicago 'L' to work every morning. Andy's life is laid out before him: a good job, marriage to his female college sweetheart, and the white picket fence existence he believes in. But when he sees Carlos Castillo for the first time, Carlos’s dark eyes and Latin appeal mesmerize him. Fate continues to throw them together until the two finally agree to meet up. At Andy’s apartment, the pent-up passion of both young men is ignited, but is snuffed out by an inopportune and poorly-timed phone call. 

 Flash forward to present day. Andy is alone, having married, divorced, and become the father of a gay son. He’s comfortable but alone and has never forgotten the powerful pull of Carlos’s gaze on the 'L' train. He vows to find him once more, hoping for a second chance. If life can change in the blink of an eye, what will the passage of thirty years do? To find out, Andy begins a search that might lead to heartache and disappointment or a love that will last forever…. 

ISBN-13 978-1-63216-586-2
Pages 200
Cover Artist Reese Dante

Pre-order BLINK here.

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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

5 stars for my psychic thriller, THIRD EYE

Ending the year on a high note with a 5-star review of my psychic thriller, THIRD EYE. 


The Novel Approach Reviews says: "Third Eye was a very satisfying read, colorful and full of rich detail, with many layers both between and within its characters. I appreciated the full length of this novel and Rick’s ability to sustain the emotional hold he had on the reader for the whole story, the intensity never dropped. The final resolution was brilliantly graphic and still sweetly hopeful. This is hands down the best work I have read by Rick R. Reed in two years. It is a showcase to his skills and left me in awe of his ability to create emotions with words. I sincerely hope there are more books coming from Rick in this genre."

Read the whole review here.

And buy THIRD EYE here.


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Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Blink Cover Reveal

COVER REVEAL! 


BLINK will be out January 23, 2015 (but available for pre-order here). This cover represents the awesomeness that is cover artist Reese Dante! And the story is my most autobiographical....

BLURB
Life can change in the blink of an eye. 

That's a truth Andy Slater learns as a young man in 1982, taking the Chicago 'L' to work every morning. Andy's life is laid out before him: a good job, marriage to his female college sweetheart, and the white picket fence existence he believes in. But when he sees Carlos Castillo for the first time, Carlos’s dark eyes and Latin appeal mesmerize him. Fate continues to throw them together until the two finally agree to meet up. At Andy’s apartment, the pent-up passion of both young men is ignited, but is snuffed out by an inopportune and poorly-timed phone call.

Flash forward to present day. Andy is alone, having married, divorced, and become the father of a gay son. He’s comfortable but alone and has never forgotten the powerful pull of Carlos’s gaze on the 'L' train. He vows to find him once more, hoping for a second chance. If life can change in the blink of an eye, what will the passage of thirty years do? To find out, Andy begins a search that might lead to heartache and disappointment or a love that will last forever….

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Preorder paperback
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Monday, December 22, 2014

Audio book of Raining Men Gets Rave Review from Hearts on Fire Reviews

Reviews don't get much better than this one! Hearts on Fire had this to say about Raining Men, my award-winning book about a man's journey from sexual addiction and a damaged past to finding love:

"I highly recommend this story to all lovers of M/M romance, and especially to those who...love a hurt/comfort theme..... This was a long audio book, however the story was so good that I found myself listening as often as possible so that I could see how Bobby’s recovery progressed, and I sure wasn’t disappointed. Don’t hesitate to buy this one."

Read the entire review here.

Buy the ebook, paperback or audio book.

Blurb
Sequel to Chaser

The character you loved to hate in Chaser becomes the character you will simply love in Raining Men.

It’s been raining men for most of Bobby Nelson’s adult life. Normally, he wouldn’t have it any other way, but lately something’s missing. Now, he wants the deluge to slow to a single special drop. But is it even possible for Bobby to find “the one” after endless years of hooking up?

When Bobby’s father passes away, Bobby finally examines his rocky relationship with the man and how it might have contributed to his inability to find the love he yearns for. Guided by a sexy therapist, a Sex Addicts Anonymous group, a well-endowed Chihuahua named Johnny Wadd, and Bobby’s own cache of memories, Bobby takes a spiritual, sexual, and emotional journey to discover that life’s most satisfactory love connections lie in quality, not quantity. And when he’s ready to love not only himself but someone else, sex and love fit, at last, into one perfect package.

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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

MATCHES My Holiday Story for 2014 Is Now Out

My poignant gay take on Hans Christian Andersen's "The Little Match Girl" is now out in the Kindle store, just in time for the holidays!

"Matches" is only .99 cents!

BLURB
Christmas Eve should be a night filled with magic and love. But for Anderson, down on his luck and homeless in Chicago's frigid chill, it's a fight for survival. Whether he's sleeping on the el, or holed up in an abandoned car, all he really has are his memories to keep him warm: memories of a time when he loved a man named Welk and the world was perfect. When Anderson finds a book of discarded matches on the sidewalk, he pockets them. Later, trying to keep the cold at bay hunkered down in a church entryway, Anderson discovers the matches are the key to bringing his memories of Welk, happiness, and security to life. Within their flames, visions dance and perhaps a reunion with the man he loved most.

Click here to buy your copy!


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