Author: Rick R. Reed
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Reese Dante
Rating: 4.5 of 5 Stars
Publication Date: 04/04/2016
Length: Novel (~ 50K-100K)
Genre: Contemporary, Gay Romance
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.
When high school teacher Dane Bernard suddenly loses his wife, he is not only faced with life as a widower and a single parent, but he is also faced with himself and feelings he has denied for years. As he begins to come to terms with his sexuality, he meets new teacher Seth Wolcott and can’t deny the attraction that exists. As they join forces to help bullied student Truman Reid, possibilities for romance blossom. However, Dane finds that acting upon long-buried feelings isn’t easy, let alone coming out to his children—and the world.
I am a sucker for teacher stories. Period. I love gay romances set in a school, particularly now that society is becoming more accepting of LGBTQ alliances and the students they embrace. Dane and Seth are lovely characters who are not only pitted against the difficulties that exist for fellow teachers in a relationship, but a gay relationship, at that. Dane is the closeted gentle giant who has hidden his desire for men behind a wife and family for years, and his struggle to bring down the walls he has created to accomplish that is a powerful one. He is a sweet, lovable character with a genuine heart of gold. He is endearing in his attempts to do the right thing for his family, his students, and himself, all the while questioning every step and making mistakes along the way. He and Seth are adorable, and their final scene is beyond satisfying and swoon-worthy.
To me, however, Truman is the heart and soul of this story. Self-proclaimed “sissy,” he is a target and an underdog with courage, determination, and is, in my opinion, the true hero here. His daily battles are real and heartbreaking, and I think he deserves his own story, honestly. As he embraces his true self, his personality and style jumps from the pages and grabs the reader’s heart and imagination. A testament to resilience and burgeoning hope, he is the nucleus around which much of the story revolves, and I wish I could have seen more of him and his mother. I love Patsy, the wise-beyond-her-years single mom who embraces Truman for who he is, even though she struggles to understand. She is a strong, positive influence, and I for more characters like her to be written in this genre.
My only issue with this story centers on the feeling that the relationships are a bit rushed and the emotional elements somewhat underdeveloped. I really wanted to see more of the family’s grief and Dane’s struggle with single parenthood, along with more of his internal battle with his sexuality and his final acceptance of it. The introduction of yet another external conflict at about 75% felt unnecessary and took away from the opportunity for further expansion upon relationships and better resolution of already existing conflicts.
Overall, Big Love truly is a story with a big heart. Graced with important and enlightening messages, Mr. Reed excels at bringing his characters together in beautiful, poignant moments, allowing the reader into the souls of the people who populate his books. He tackles some hefty subjects here: coming out, grief, and the horrible effects of bullying. Yet, with its focus on family and acceptance in all its forms, Big Love is a story of hope, healing, and ultimately embracing the differences that make us each human and worthy of love. Touching, heart-warming, and brave, it is a m/m romance I highly recommend.
I would like to thank the publisher 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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