Title: Blue Umbrella Sky
Author: Rick R. Reed
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: March 19, 2019
Page Count: 256
Reviewed by: Kristin F
Heat Level: 2 flames out of 5
Rating: 3.0 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?
The blurb describes our two main characters fairly well, which is really what the story is about. Milt, still reeling from the long, slow decline of his husband Corky to Alzheimer’s, has fled from his friends and job in Ohio to Palm Springs, CA. He keeps to himself, avoiding neighbors, social activities and life, except for his rescue dog Ruby.
Billy is a recovering alcoholic. Bill threw away his potential career as a singer for the bottle. He works at Trader Joes, goes hiking, attends daily AA meetings, and spends the rest of his spare time harboring a crush on Milt.
It’s never stated out loud, but Milt is struggling from depression. It’s stated out loud, he’s working through his loss and is struggling emotionally.
It’s stated out loud, Billy is a recovering alcoholic.
This is a story of love (for Corky; for a drink); a story of loss (losing a beloved; losing self-esteem and dreams); and of trying to start over (in a trailer park in Palm Springs).
What this isn’t, is a romance. Oh…there’s some romance, toward the end, but it’s one bumpy road full of flashbacks, guilt and angst getting to that place of mutual attraction.
The plot started out strong, stumbled a bit with the flashbacks, sat down for a goodly rest during the Big Misunderstanding (which the reader can see coming from a mile away), and then kinda staggered to its feet for the ending.
I understand loss, and the reaction to loss, is different for each and every person. But I couldn’t help but wonder, where was Milt’s Alzheimer’s support group? Where was a widower’s support group? And yes, some people aren’t comfortable attending…but still. Made me wonder because SO much emphasis was placed on Billy’s AA meetings.
Billy expresses his concern that Milt “wouldn’t get” the AA meetings, the need for the support group, that for Billy’s sake, Billy has to attend the AA meetings daily – but no mention was made of ALANON. If the concern was so great, why not ask Milt to go to an ALANON meeting?
Ultimately, I have some very mixed thoughts about this book. This is one you’ll have to read and make up your own mind on. But I’m going to have to go with three stars and leave the review at that.