Title: Blue Umbrella Sky
Author: Rick R Reed
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: March 19, 2019
Genre(s): Contemporary Romance, Alcoholism
Page Count: 191
Reviewed by: Bob-O-Link
Heat Level: 1 flames out of 5
Rating: 5 stars out of 5
Milt Grabaur has left his life, home, and teaching career in Ohio to start anew. The Summer Winds trailer park in Palm Springs, butted up against the San Jacinto mountain range, seems the perfect place to forget the pain of nursing his beloved husband through Alzheimer’s and seeing him off on his final passage.
Billy Blue is a sexy California surfer-type who once dreamed of being a singer but now works at Trader Joe’s and lives in his own trailer at Summer Winds. He’s focused on recovery from the alcoholism that put his dreams on hold.
When his new neighbor moves in, Billy falls for the gray-eyed man. His sadness and loneliness awaken something Billy’s never felt before–real love.
When a summer storm and flash flood jeopardize Milt’s home, Billy comes to the rescue, hoping the two men might get better acquainted…and maybe begin a new romance.
But Milt’s devotion to his late husband is strong, and he worries that acting on his attraction will be a betrayal.
Can they lay down their baggage and find out how redemptive love can be?
Let’s begin by noting that Mr Reed has a really lovely, almost poetic, style and that sets the novel’s tone. [ As an example: “But the damp throw pillows whizzing by, like soggy oyster crackers in soup . . .” Or “ The sky above was not a pretty shade of blue but a dirty white bowl turned upside down.”] So, while many readers approach novels with only a strong focus on plot or character development, and randy others seek a plethora of erotic “hot spots,” this author employs language that engages us in its beautiful flow. And that same approach handily enlightens our familiarity with the heroes.
We are introduced to two terribly broken men. Milt, in his 40’s, has suffered through the painful loss of his life’s great love. He is determined to inure himself against future pain by living in solitude, which he also deems best to honor his late husband. Billy, a younger man, has experienced the youthful loss of his sobriety, and with it his hopes for a good and productive life. He is aggressively fighting to preserve his renewed sobriety with AA.
The reader need not fear. Perhaps mindful of that standard redemptive religious precept that, “what is broken shall be made whole.” Mr Reed guides us to the HEA promised in the Blurb, laced with all the proper plot fits and starts. He also judiciously uses the occasional flashback, often a risky device, to better shape our understanding to Milt’s and Billy’s reality. Surmounting the difficult experiences with dementia and alcoholism, Milt’s and Billy’s very fractures call out to each other. Milt’s loneliness generates a need in Billy: Billy is seen by Milt as a handsome, tanned dreamboat even Milt’s late husband would have desired.
The satisfaction in this novel is easily summed up in the heroes’ recognition that those things they need come to each of them when they are ready. And this is possible because love isn’t meted out – the world is made of love and there is more than enough available.