Title: The Blue Moon Cafe
Author: Rick R. Reed
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Buy link: Amazon.com (Second Edition)
Genre: M/M paranormal horror romance
Length: Novel (182 pages)
Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5
A guest review by Jenre
This intensive horror story will send chills down your spine as we follow unemployed and lonely Thad who has to make a choice between two very desirable men, one of whom holds a deadly secret.
Someone—or something—is killing Seattle’s gay men.
A creature moves through the darkest night, lit only by the full moon, taking them, one by one, from the rain city’s gay gathering areas.
Someone—or something—is falling in love with Thad Matthews.
Against a backdrop of horror and fear, young Thad finds his first true love in the most unlikely of places—a new Italian restaurant called The Blue Moon Cafe. Sam is everything Thad has ever dreamed of in a man: compassionate, giving, handsome, and with brown eyes Thad feels he could sink into. And Sam can cook! But as the pair’s love begins to grow, so do the questions and uncertainties, the main one being, why do Sam’s unexplained disappearances always coincide with the full moon?
Prepare yourself for a unique blend of dark suspense and erotic romance with The Blue Moon Cafe, written by the author Unzipped magazine called, “the Stephen King of gay horror.” You’re guaranteed an unforgettable reading experience, one that skillfully blends the hottest romance with the most chilling terror…
The beginning of The Blue Moon Cafe throws us straight into horror territory as we are taken into the mind of a killer. The killer is stalking the streets of Seattle’s gay district looking for young gay men to kill. He finds one and we leave his mind just as he begins to tear the man apart. We then move onto our hero Thad. Recently unemployed, Thad is finding the formless days and close confines of his apartment difficult to cope with so he decides to treat himself to a meal at a new Italian restaurant – The Blue Moon Cafe. Whilst there, Thad meets Sam, the owner of the cafe and they hit it off, leading to a single night of passion. Later Thad meets Jared, which leaves him confused. He still has feelings for Sam, but there’s also a spark with Jared, and what is the secret that Sam is hiding?
There are two story lines which run through this book and intermingle. The first is that of Thad and his love-life. When Thad meets Sam, he feels that he’s met his perfect match. Sam is Sicilian, openly emotional and gregarious, and best of all, older than Thad and very hairy, something which presses all of Thad’s hot buttons. The sex is out of this world and Thad finds himself falling for Sam very quickly. Sam also confesses that he has growing feelings for Thad, but when Sam constantly pushes Thad away, Thad is confused: One minute he’s meeting Sam’s family, the next Sam is disappearing for the weekend and being cagey about where he’s been. I thought this part of the book was handled well, as we join with Thad and his growing sense of unease about Sam and who he really is.
Things are further complicated by the arrival of Jared, who is almost the opposite of Sam in that he’s of Norwegian descent, blond and slender and not at all hairy. He’s friendly, easygoing and open about his life in a way that Sam is not. Thad likes him a great deal and finds Jared attractive, but there’s not the grand passion that he gets with Sam. Throughout the book, Thad veers in his feelings between the two men. Jared is a good friend and it feels right to have him around. They also share a number of tense, emotional moments which strengthen their friendship. In contrast Thad is overwhelmed by Sam and his sheer magnetism draws Thad to Sam, but also makes him too much of a good thing. The way that this part of the book was constructed was compelling and emotionally satisfying as I read anxiously to discover which of the two men Thad would choose, or if he would choose at all. I had my favourite – but I shall leave you to decide who your favourite might be and what Thad’s final decision was.
The second storyline of the book was in the horror story of the creature who is killing the gay men of Seattle. Those of you who aren’t too keen on blood, guts and gore don’t need to worry too much about that with this book. There are a couple of tastefully gory scenes, but much of the horror is psychological. I was sitting on the edge of my seats a few times riddled with tension as I waited to see what was going to happen. As a big horror fan, this was just ideal for me. I also liked the portrayal of the creatures, and it was particularly effective when we were taken into the mind of the creature. Those readers used to reading shifter books where the shifters are fluffy and cuddly, are going to get a bit of a shock here as these are not cute doggies. I loved it though and it made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up whenever the killer was on the prowl. Marvellous.
There were a couple of little niggles which prevented this from getting the full five stars, one of which is very minor. At the beginning of the book, much is made of Thad’s unemployed status and I thought that this was going to be important later in the book, but it wasn’t which seemed a bit strange. Secondly, there’s a character who appears in the latter half of the book who has an important role to play in the story and then disappears again. I did wonder whether there is to be a sequel to the story which features this character, in which case I can understand his appearance, but if not then his appearance was far too convenient, and seemed a sloppy way to resolve a situation. As far as I’m aware Rick R Reed doesn’t usually do sloppy, so I shall be interested to see if the enigmatic stranger who left lots of questions behind him, will appear in a future book by this author.
One final thing to say, which also hints at a sequel, is that there are a few loose ends left at the end of the book. Things are sort-of resolved, but much is left up to the reader. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing for me as I don’t need my endings to be tied up in a huge bow, but some readers do, and may not be wholly satisfied with how the book concludes.
Overall, if you like horror and want to read a strong, well written, character based book chock full of suspense, romance and tension, then this book is for you. I enjoyed The Blue Moon Cafe a great deal and highly recommend it.