We’re chuffed to bits to welcome GayRomLit 2016 Featured Author Rick R. Reed to The Novel Approach today, to chat a bit about family and his Dreamspun Desires novel, Stranded with Desire, a book he’s co-authored with Vivien Dean.
Family Reunions and GRL
A Guest Post by Rick R. Reed
I’m thinking about family reunions this morning. Family, as we all know, can be of two varieties, blood and “other (or of choice).” Right now, we’re in Chicago with my son and his husband, whom we haven’t seen since Christmas (they live in Montreal) and it’s so wonderful to be together. The time is simply going too fast. Note the pic of us all at Lincoln Park. A happy bunch!
But whenever I think of family, I also think of the other kind. The kind we choose.
And for me, GRL has always been and always will be, about a family reunion with chosen family. Every year, I’m always amazed at how wonderful, liberating, and special it is to be with my tribe, my family of choice, in short—people who get me.
Whether you’re going to GRL for your first time or your second or third or beyond, I think you’ll either understand what I’m talking about or will very soon if you’re a GRL virgin. There’s nothing like it, which is what keeps me coming back year after year. I can’t wait to see YOU there. I’ll be the guy who’s always ready with a smile and a hug.
Hope you’ll check out my new book Stranded with Desire, which I co-wrote with the amazing Vivien Dean, whose also part of my extended family of choice. Below is a little bit about the book, plus an excerpt to whet your appetite.
See you in October!
They say that the truth will set you free. As the following excerpt demonstrates, that’s not always true. Will our star-crossed lovers, Maine and Colby, find their way out of the dense mountain woods into which their small plane crashed? And more importantly, can they find their way out of the limits society has placed on them enough to freely love one another?
When Maine did start talking, his words were heavy with regret, just as Colby had dreaded. “The truth is out now,” Maine said. “The genie can’t be pushed back into the bottle.” He touched Colby’s cheek for an instant. “I can’t say that I’m sorry. The feelings I have inside for you have been bottled up and repressed for so long, it was like a dam breaking to kiss you, to feel you against me.” He shook his head. “Not since Eligio have things felt so right.” Maine smiled. “You knew something was up when I mentioned my sad lost love.” Maine’s eyes went faraway for a moment, then came back to Colby. “Eligio was never meant to be. Aside from the gay issue, which was a problem for him as well as me—with his staunch Catholic family—but our cultures were so different, and we lived halfway across the world from one another. He was a farmer and I was heir to a fortune. Love should conquer all, but it doesn’t.”
Maine stared up at the craggy face of the mountain for a long time before continuing. “I thought maybe I’d beaten this thing, you know? Sure, I couldn’t escape the thrill a firm, hairy body gives me in my dreams, but in my waking life? I could pretend. Pretend to be that guy the world perceived me as. Strong. Confident. Straight—a good catch for any woman. I pretended so long I began to wonder if what happened that summer with Eligio was some fantasy my poor starved soul had made up.
“And then you came along. and my façade crashed down around me like it was made of balsa wood or crystal or something. You came along, and I fell for you….”
He reached out to lay a hand, for only a moment, on Colby’s hair. Colby felt a chill when he took his hand away, and he would swear his heart stopped beating for just a second.
“It’s good you know I want you.” He grinned. “And for more than just the body parts, although those are mighty fine. They feel and taste as good as they look.”
His grin vanished, and with the grin’s sudden disappearance, Colby began to get a sick inkling where this speech was going.
“But this—we—can’t be, Colby. People expect things of me. I made a commitment to Helen, and she’s a good woman, a great woman. How can I be so selfish and break her heart? Shatter her dreams? I can be the man she expects me to be. I can be the man my family thinks I am. I can be the leader the shareholders demand.”
Colby felt forlorn, lost not only on a mountaintop but lost completely in life. He wanted to rage against Maine, to ask him where his happiness came in with all this role-playing. Didn’t it matter to him that he would be essentially living a lie and committing himself to a life of loss and yearning? An inauthentic life? What could possibly make that worthwhile?
But he couldn’t make himself say the words or ask the questions. All he could do was feel numb inside and stare down at the earth beneath him. He thought if they ever got out of this mess they found themselves in, he should resign, move on, find another job. Commit to meeting a man who could love him unconditionally, without regret, without hiding.
Nice goals, Colby thought. But that job wouldn’t let him see Maine every day. And any man, no matter how free, out, and suitable, would not be Maine.
Maine was all he wanted.
Maine, he thought, was all he could never have.
“Are you okay?” Maine asked.
Colby looked up at him, struggling to hold back his tears. It felt like there was a tennis ball in his throat. “Am I okay?” he whispered, struggling to find the breath to put behind his words. “No. Of course not.” He sighed. “But I understand—even though I don’t agree with—your thinking. Your need to be what everyone else wants.” He smiled, but there was no joy. “Everyone but me.” That’s enough, Colby told himself. Say no more.
Colby stood and brushed the grit and pine needles off the seat of his pants. He didn’t want to talk anymore, not if this was what they were talking about.
Colby trod a few steps toward the stream they’d found. “Right now what’s important is getting out of here alive. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be on this mountain when it gets dark again. Come on.” Colby started off, making a path, a gentle descent, following the water as it flowed.
He didn’t look back to see if Maine was behind him, but he was sure he was.
About the Book
When their plane crashed, their desire took flight.
CEO Maine Braxton and his invaluable assistant, Colby, don’t realize they share a deep secret: they’re in love—with each other. That secret may have never come to light but for a terrifying plane crash in the Cascade Mountains that changes everything.
In a struggle for survival, the two men brave bears, storms, and a life-threatening flood to make it out of the wilderness alive. The proximity to death makes them realize the importance of love over propriety. Confessions emerge. Passions ignite. They escape the wilds renewed and openly in love.
When they return to civilization, though, forces are already plotting to snuff out their short-lived romance and ruin everything both have worked so hard to achieve.
Vivien Dean is a firm believer that love doesn’t care about gender. That’s why her titles encompass both GLBT and het, erotic and sweet, as well as a wide variety of genres. After growing up in the snowy and isolated Midwest, she went off in search of her creative muse. She performed on stage, wrote and directed indie films in Orlando, then met her British soulmate online. One wedding, two children, and ten addresses later, she resides in the Bay Area where it’s easy to indulge in her favorite pastimes—good theater, great movies, and amazing food.
Vivien is a three-time EPIC eBook Award winner and collaborated with Pepper Espinoza to write as Jamie Craig for five years.
Rick R. Reed is all about exploring the romantic entanglements of gay men in contemporary, realistic settings. While his stories often contain elements of suspense, mystery and the paranormal, his focus ultimately returns to the power of love.
He is the author of dozens of published novels, novellas, and short stories. He is a three-time EPIC eBook Award winner (for Caregiver, Orientation and The Blue Moon Cafe). He is also a Rainbow Award Winner for both Caregiver and Raining Men. Lambda Literary Review has called him, “a writer that doesn’t disappoint.”
Rick lives in Seattle with his husband and a very spoiled Boston terrier. He is forever “at work on another novel.”