Erryn reviews Unraveling by Rick R. Reed. The ebook was released January 13, 2020 and is 241 pages. The audiobook was narrated by David Allen Vargo. It was released December 23, 2022 and is 7 hours and 36 minutes. A copy was provided in exchange for an honest review.
Randy Kay has the perfect life with his beautiful wife and adorable son. But Randy’s living a lie, untrue to himself and everyone who knows him. He’s gay.
Marriage and fatherhood, which he thought could change him, have failed. He doubts if anyone can love him for who he really is–especially himself.
With his wife’s blessing, he sets out to explore the gay world he’s hidden from all his life.
John Walsh, a paramedic with the Chicago Fire Department, is comfortable in his own skin as a gay man, yet he can never find someone who shares his desire to create a real relationship, a true family.
When Randy and John first spy each other in Chicago’s Boystown, all kinds of alarms go off–some of joy, others of deep-seated fear.
Randy and John must surmount multiple hurdles on the journey to a lasting, meaningful love. Will they succeed or will their chance at love go up in flames, destroyed by missed connections and a lack of self-acceptance?
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This book starts out with a wallop, so be forewarned. I don’t want to give it away – I didn’t know and was shocked – but you’re best heading into it knowing it’ll grab you by the throat immediately. I knew what the ultimate resolution of that situation would be, but it didn’t make it any easier to endure.
Okay, so on to the book. The narration is pretty evenly spread between Randy and John – but Violet, Randy’s wife, had a couple of chapters and that worked – because there are three people involved in this relationship. Whatever form this relationship takes.
Randy’s a loving father and husband. But he knows it’s all a façade that’ll crumble at any moment. He’s gay. And despite it being the mid-1980’s and Chicago (with AIDS looming), he’s desperate to know whether or not he can have a real relationship with a man. Up to that moment, he’s not willing to risk his son and wife. But when Violet gives him permission to explore, he seizes that chance.
Things don’t go smoothly, though. Stepping into a gay bar is terrifying. Meeting other men, and assuming they’ve all been at this a while, is daunting. Randy meets John on his first foray out, but the meeting doesn’t go well. John tries to get him to loosen up, while Randy basically bolts. Then, months later, there’s another encounter that doesn’t go well.
Third time’s the charm? They get set up and realize their attraction is mutual and maybe they can make things work. But Randy’s life gets super complicated and John’s not sure he’s ready for that level of drama.
As I’ve said before, this is a Rick R. Reed romance – so I got my well-deserved happy ending. The epilogue was especially poignant. And while I’m talking about how much I enjoyed the book, I have to mention the narration. David Allen Vargo does a great job with Rick’s books and I hope there’ll be more in the future. A wonderfully powerful book that had me pondering long after it ended.
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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). His novel, Raining Men, won the Rainbow Award for Best Contemporary General Fiction. 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.”