Author: Rick R. Reed
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Paul Richmond
Rating: 4.5 of 5 Stars
Publication Date: 10/23/2011
Length: Novel (~ 50K-100K)
Genre: Contemporary, M/M Romance
It’s 1991, and Dan Calzolaio has just moved to Florida with his lover, Mark, having fled Chicago and Mark’s addictions to begin a new life on the Gulf Coast. Volunteering for the Tampa AIDS Alliance is just one part of that new beginning, and that’s how Dan meets his new buddy, Adam.
Adam Schmidt is not at all what Dan expected. The guy is an original–witty, wry, and sarcastic with a fondness for a smart black dress, Barbra Streisand, and a good mai tai. Adam doesn’t let his imminent death get him down, even through a downward spiral that sees him thrown in jail.
Each step of Adam’s journey teaches Dan new lessons about strength and resilience, but it’s Adam’s lover, Sullivan, to whom Dan feels an almost irresistible pull. Dan knows the attraction isn’t right, even after he dumps his cheating, drug-abusing boyfriend. But then Adam passes away, and it leaves Sullivan and Dan both alone to see if they can turn their love for Adam into something whole and real for each other.
Every time I pick up a book by Rick R. Reed, I get a completely different reading experience. Whether he’s writing about gay bashing, psychic murder-solving, finding a second chance at love, or the art of good cooking (the inclusion of food details in his books is always an added treat), he never fails to provide me with an engaging story penned straight from his heart. Caregiver is most definitely one from the heart.
Based upon Mr. Reed’s own experience as an AIDS buddy in Florida, Caregiver follows the journey of Dan Calzolaio as he attempts to settle into his new surroundings with his drug-abusing boyfriend, Mark. As a volunteer for the Tampa AIDS Alliance, he is assigned saucy, sharp-witted Adam Schmidt, and his life is never the same. As he becomes more attached to Adam, eccentricities and faults and all, he learns the meaning of acceptance and finds the inner strength and courage to take charge of his own life. Coping with losses and unexpected life changes, he finds himself drawn to Sullivan, Adam’s partner. Their mutual struggle with grief and loneliness brings them together as they try to make sense of the hole Adam’s passing has left in their lives.
Reed brings his characters to life with sensitivity, honesty, and spirit. They are each flawed and distinct, bringing color to the pages and impacting the plot in unique and sometimes surprising ways. Actions have strong repercussions as the story becomes more and more compelling, creating many “Oh, no, he didn’t!” moments throughout the book. Dan is sweet and lovable, trying to do the right thing by everyone, all the while learning that he also needs to do so for himself. As he struggles to come to terms with the force of nature that is Adam, his growth as a friend and caregiver is satisfying, believable, and a good lesson for all of us.
I was pleased to discover that this story was not only emotional and touching, but also uplifting. While the detailed realities of AIDS and drug abuse are frank and heartbreaking, Mr. Reed does an excellent job of tempering the heavier aspects of his characters’ life situations through their humor and determination. There is grief and sadness, yes, and the ripple effects of addiction are ugly and maddening. However, resiliency and hope are also strong elements that provide balance and optimism.
Overall, Caregiver is an inspiring story laced with memorable characters finding the grace and fortitude to deal with devastating circumstances. Powerful, yet far from maudlin, it is a heartfelt tribute to those who have gone and to those left behind and reminds of the necessity and beauty of reaching out to others in love.
I would like to thank the author for providing me with the eARC of this title in exchange for my honest opinion.
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.
Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,
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