Author: Rick R. Reed
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: May 21, 2019
Genre(s): Gay Romance
Page Count: 202
Reviewed by: Bob-O-Link
Heat Level: 4.5 flames out of 5
Rating: 4 stars out of 5
Ever been torn between two lovers? That’s Ricky Comparetto’s problem. It’s 1995 and Ricky is making his very first trip across the pond with his best friend. Ricky, hungry for love and looking for it in all the wrong places, finds it in the beach city of Brighton. His new love has the curious name of Walt Whitman and is also an American, which only serves to make him sexier and more intriguing. By the time Walt and Ricky part, promises are made for a reunion in Boston. But the course of true love never runs smooth. In Chicago Ricky almost immediately falls in love again.
Tom Green is a sexy blue-collar beast with the kindest heart Ricky has ever run across. What’s he to do? With a visit to the East Coast on the horizon and a new love blossoming in Ricky’s home of Chicago, Ricky truly is torn.
For the moment, let’s forget the opening question in the Blurb. Rather, have you ever been pressed to evince a “genuine” response upon first meeting a friend’s new offspring? Do you smile warmly and facilely tickle the little tyke under the chin? Or do you visibly back off, telling the parent that “someone’s diaper is in need of replacement.”?
Such can be the problem of the literary reviewer. Someone’s hard labor is before you, representing a gestational period – perhaps even more than a mere nine months. Sensitivity or civility can be in the balance. So – having read Torn, I am, in trouble.
The language of this fictional construct is so very smart, and Rick Reed’s mind is quick. There is enough tongue-in-cheek (as well as elsewhere, but that is a different sub-topic!) to be continually amusing, and Torn draws us back to an earlier time – maybe when we, too, were also in our early thirty’s and cynically approached those dull “adult” strictures of the world. Of course, while set in 1995, the novel’s compass seems more descriptive of a late 1980’s milieu – with little regard for AIDS and heavy with casual, anonymous (often very brief) sex. Author Reed reinforces that time frame with frequent references to the era’s movies, popular music and writings. You are there again – that good old time when relationships often started with anonymous sex, which, if really good, could be followed by the exchange of names and numbers, and might even lead to subsequent degrees of affection.
The first third of the novel takes us back, to frequent and vacuous sex between men often attracted to others who are merely their own mirror images. Though thirty-five years old, Ricky is really an adolescent, questioning whether he will ever be able to combine sex and love. On vacation in England, he keeps running into Walt and they start a hot, almost compulsive, affair. Their repartee keeps the story nicely moving apace.
The second part of Ricky’s story has him back home in Chicago, meeting Tom, and becoming somewhat more grounded. He has started to question whether sexual promiscuity ever works in finding real love. All this, though Tom is Walt’s polar opposite: a simple man, blue-collar, uneducated and a non-reader, a somewhat flaming bottom. Thanks to Rick Reed, the greatest commonality between Walt and Tom is their almost insatiable sexual drives. That, alone, makes the pages fly faster! Tom’s greatest draw seems to be his bottomless erotic need for Ricky [forgive the pun!].
I’ll not kill the plot, but Ricky’s story concludes in the present date, and with moderate satisfaction. To answer the review’s opening questions, with reference to Torn, one slightly holds one’s nose and greatly admires Rick Reed’s new baby.