Author: Rick R. Reed
Cover Artist: Anne Cain
Buy Link: Chaser
Genre: Contemporary M/M Romance
Length: 224 pages
Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
A Guest Review by Andrea
Review Summary: Great writing and a great story that I definitely recommend.
Blurb: Caden DeSarro is what they call a chubby chaser. He likes his guys with a few extra pounds on them. So when he meets Kevin Dodge in a bar bathroom, he can’t help but stare, even if he does make an ass of himself. As far as Caden is concerned, Kevin is physically perfect: a stocky bearded blond with a dick that’s just right. (They met in the bathroom—of course he looked!) But Caden gets tongue-tied and misses his chance.
When Caden runs into Kevin one night on the El train, he figures it’s fate offering him a second shot. Caden manages to get invited back to Kevin’s place for a one-night stand that turns into the kind of relationship he’s dreamed about.
But the course of true love never did run smooth, and Kevin and Caden’s romance is no exception. When Caden returns from a few weeks away on business, Kevin surprises him with a new and “improved” body—one that fits Caden’s shallow friend Bobby’s ideal, not Caden’s. Caden doesn’t know what to do, and his hesitation is just the opportunity Bobby was looking for. This isn’t the same Kevin he fell in love with… is it?
If you haven’t read a book by Rick Reed, you’re missing out. Every time I start one of his books, my initial reaction is, “Damn, I forgot how good he is.” From the first page he starts working his magic as he smoothly pulls the reader into his world. It’s done so well that I feel like I’m getting a glimpse into someone else’s life, he makes me forget it’s not real. It’s rare for me to be drawn that deeply into a book and I absolutely love when it happens! He’s also a master at subtly including events and details everyone can relate to and then draw parallels between themselves and his characters. In Chaser he goes even further and uses a central theme which everyone can relate to, body image.
Chaser begins with Caden and his best friend Bobby going out to a club. Right away I started to see how big of an issue body image was going to be. Bobby and Caden have a completely different perspective on what is attractive both for themselves and for potential partners. What was really interesting was how that difference of opinion affected their perception of each other. Bobby seemed to look down on Caden for his preference of chubby men and Caden sees Bobby as shallow for his preference of porn star perfection. Bobby quickly hooks up with his version of the ideal man and takes off. Caden is left to fend for himself and that’s when he runs into Kevin in the bathroom. I liked seeing a fit, handsome man flustered over running into a chubby guy he finds attractive. It’s not what I expect as a reader and it’s certainly not the kind of reaction Kevin expects. That embarrassing moment is the beginning of a promising new relationship.
Chaser is divided into two parts, the first part encompasses their relationship up until Caden has a family emergency and must quickly depart for his hometown. The second part covers their time of separation as well as their reunion. Part one was light, humorous and sweet. I was really loving the chemistry between Kevin and Caden and their nervous excitement over a new relationship. In part two, the tone of the book takes a drastic turn and becomes much more brooding. The changes start when Kevin can’t believe a fat man is good enough for Caden and decides to become the type of man Caden deserves. Kevin starts exercising, eating well and losing a lot of weight in hopes of surprising Caden when he returns. Caden is definitely surprised when he returns but it’s not the happy surprise Kevin was expecting. Caden spent all those weeks away dreaming of coming home to the Kevin he left and is then greeted by a leaner version of Kevin, which Caden doesn’t find attractive. After their disastrous reunion, Kevin is hurt and Caden is uncomfortable and confused. This is when Bobby comes back into the picture to lend his own style of support. Let the drama begin…
The first thing I loved about this book were the characters. Caden is just a normal guy. He isn’t perfect and he definitely has his issues. I spent half my time sitting on the fence trying to figure out if I liked him or not. Kevin is a perfect example of an all around nice guy, he’s wonderful and I loved him immediately. He’s a good person, he’s easygoing, he has integrity, and he has a huge heart. Then there is Caden’s best friend, Bobby, who has a tendency to be shallow and egotistical. All three of them had pretty low self-esteem related to body image but they all showed it in different ways. It was interesting to see the different ways that was manifested in their lives and how they dealt with it. The second thing I loved about this book was that it made me think. All three learned something about themselves and the people in their lives. I frequently caught myself pausing while reading because I was trying to see it from the character’s point of view and process either their reaction or motivation. It made me think while I was reading and I caught myself still pondering it days after I was finished. That’s the sign of a great book to me and I definitely recommend it.