TITLE: Big Love
AUTHOR: Rick R. Reed
PUBLISHER: Dreamspinner Press
COVER ARTIST: Reese Dante
LENGTH: 200 Pages
RELEASE DATE: April 04, 2016
BLURB: Teacher Dane Bernard is a gentle giant, loved by all at Summitville High School. He has a beautiful wife, two kids, and an easy rapport with staff and students alike. But Dane has a secret, one he expects to keep hidden for the rest of his life—he’s gay.
But when he loses his wife, Dane finally confronts his attraction to men. And a new teacher, Seth Wolcott, immediately catches his eye. Seth himself is starting over, licking his wounds from a breakup. The last thing Seth wants is another relationship—but when he spies Dane on his first day at Summitville High, his attraction is immediate and electric.
As the two men enter into a dance of discovery and new love, they’re called upon to come to the aid of bullied gay student Truman Reid. Truman is out and proud, which not everyone at his small town high school approves of. As the two men work to help Truman ignore the bullies and love himself without reservation, they all learn life-changing lessons about coming out, coming to terms, acceptance, heartbreak, and falling in love.
Seth Wolcott gathered up his messenger bag from the passenger seat to go inside and stopped when a man passing his car caught his eye. Seth’s breath froze in his mouth. If he’d been asked, even seconds ago, if any man could “catch his eye” in his current state of loss and betrayal, Seth would have said “Get out of here!” and meant it.
But the libido and the roving eye of a relatively young man were not as unforgiving as the heart. Eye and libido still had their needs despite a smashed heart, Seth thought, staring at the stranger in the navy blue coat as he passed by Seth’s Leaf. Seth took in the broad shoulders, the proud bearing, and the shaved head that said, in no uncertain terms, that a real man was passing by.
Seth was surprised at the pulse of longing and electricity that coursed through him at just a glimpse of this stranger, who must also be on the faculty, because Seth would have judged him at least a few years older than himself.
And he was gorgeous! First, it was just his sheer size, his magnitude that caused Seth’s pulse to quicken. Seth liked ’em big, he always had, and this guy was a giant. He must have been around six feet six inches and was, as they said in the ads, HWP, or height and weight proportionate. What? Two hundred? Two twenty? No matter. Seth’s fickle lust could only imagine what all that height and weight would feel like spread out on top of him. A man blanket. The mind reeled.
Shame on you, Seth Wolcott! his conscious mind admonished in the voice of Dana Carvey’s Church Lady. In that same superego-inspired voice, Seth asked, “What’s gotten into you? Satan?” And he answered, ignoring the reference to Satan, “I don’t know, but I know what I’d like to get into me.”
Seth shook his head and permitted his sad-sack self an indulgent grin. He pulled his messenger bag on his lap to both get himself going and to hide the burgeoning erection in his jeans. Just as he was about to open the door, the giant turned his head to look at a colleague coming up the front walk, and it was his face that really sealed the deal. That face, so angular, so manly, so kind, caused Cupid to release his arrow from its bow. “It’s hopeless!” Seth wailed. “I haven’t even gotten out of the car yet on my very first day, and already my heart has been stolen.” His erection, growing ever harder, reminded him that, in all actuality, another organ was the object of thievery.
But the guy was beautiful, the kind of man Seth’s fantasies would conjure up and file under the word perfection. Seth admonished himself in a whispering voice, hoping no one saw his lips moving, “He’s probably the wrestling—or no, the football—coach and is as straight as they come. Let’s not sentence ourselves to unrequited pining on our first day! Get out of the fuckin’ car and be a professional, not one of those adolescent boys you are about to teach—ones whose hormones are in overdrive.”
The wind, despite the snow dribbling down to a few spotty flakes, was bitter when Seth opened his door. He watched as his giant went inside the school and wondered if he’d have the chance to meet him today. Seth hurried up the walk. He had an appointment with the principal, Doug Calhoun, first thing, and he didn’t want to be late.
Just as he neared the door, the giant turned, as if he felt Seth’s rapt gaze upon him. Or maybe he had—what was the word?—a presentiment that Seth was about to do something righteously embarrassing and hysterical.
And perhaps because Seth worried about making an ass out of himself in front of this man he found gorgeous, he did precisely that. The universe, once again laser-focused on Seth, caused his right foot to come down on a patch of ice cunningly hidden in a shadow cast by Summitville High. His foot went dramatically forward, extending so much it called to Seth’s mind an old Monty Python sketch, “The Ministry of Silly Walks.” Right leg extended beyond what was natural, Seth crumpled to one knee, a silly grin barely masking his pain. He tried to grab his messenger bag to keep it off the wet ground and succeeded in somehow flipping his body down so that he did a cheek plant on the asphalt. His glasses skittered across yet another unseen patch of ice.
He lay on the ground gasping, wishing that blizzard-like snow would return and mercifully bury him. Wasn’t there some way he could just make himself melt into the ground, a la the Wicked Witch of the West?
Alas, real life did not offer him any such flights of fancy. Seth felt a strong pair of hands on his shoulders, gently pulling him up. He didn’t have to look to know whose they were. And as much as he wanted to meet this man he’d just rhapsodized over in the car, he was now recalling the old adage, “Be careful what you wish for.” He didn’t care. He wished again—wished that he’d look up and someone else would come to his aid. Perhaps a nice middle-aged algebra teacher, the water polo team coach, perhaps? Or maybe a student who wanted to brownnose the new teacher.
Of course, the universe could have none of that. It was none other than the object of Seth’s lust tugging him kindly upright again. Seth looked into his eyes—blue as that patch of sky he’d seen emerge earlier—and tried to smile, but it was damned hard to do when his face was burning so fiercely Seth was surprised it didn’t melt the snow for miles around.
“Are you okay?”
Seth struggled to get to his feet, grunting, awkward, and his hunky Good Samaritan rose with him. Seth stooped once more to snatch his glasses from the ground, thankful they weren’t broken or thrown out of alignment. He clumsily affixed the horn-rims to his face and met the gaze of the man before him. “Okay? Other than feeling like a complete jackass, I’m swell. Right as rain.” Seth attempted a grin but had a feeling it came out more as a grimace.
The guy cocked his head, looking at Seth like he was some sort of curious specimen.
“I’m Dane Bernard,” he said. “I teach English here. And you are?”
At first as I was reading this I thought it was a story about discovery. It’s not. Because these characters, they know who they are. This is a story about being brave! About being you. Coming out, folding in, being free, being brave. Fear lives in every person. But we still need to live… oh God do we need to live. In the darkest moment, when it feels so absolutely hopeless like you’ll be alone and cast out for your whole life; our bravery, it shakes. Truman is 14, gay, and constantly bullied. Bless his mother Patsy seriously she’s a wonderful mother. But (and as a parent I get this) she can’t live Truman’s life for him. She would if she could. We have to watch our kids fall sometimes, to find their footing and cheer them on when they start to run free. Truman in this story was beautiful. He was so important to everyone and everything in this tale.
Dane lived half a life. He has great kids and he loved his wife. Watching him open his wings was breathtaking. With Truman’s help and Seth’s he lives a full life.
This is the real world. It’s not always perfect. People suffer every day because others don’t understand. Because they let fear push bravery in the closet.
This is another powerful story by Rick Reed. One that has a lesson and an understanding.
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."
Winner’s Prize: $15 Amazon GC + Winner’s choice of any eBook title from Rick’s Dreamspinner Press backlist.
Runner Up Prize: Audiobook of Dinner at Fiorello’s
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