Review: Big Love by Rick R. Reed

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.

Dane is a High School English teacher in a small town. He suddenly, and tragically, finds himself a widower, with two teenage children, and nothing to hold back from jumping out of the closet he has been hiding in his whole life.

Seth has run from Chicago, after he found his boyfriend cheating, to small town Summitville, as an English and Drama teacher at the same high school as Dane. He has an instant hard-on for the attractive older man, but assumes he is straight, and anyway, he’s still trying to get over his breakup.

Truman is a high school freshman. He knows he is different. Petite, and quirky, raised by his single mother, who has always told him to stand tall, no matter what, there is no way to hide his otherness from his classmates, and he always ends up as the butt of a joke, tripped, or abused. Nothing he does seems to get him out of being targeted, especially by the jocks at school.

A close call has Dane coming out to the entire school, Seth and Dane helping Truman deal with his school life, and some pretty big lessons in acceptance, and embracing oneself.

This was a beautiful story. Written from all three POV, we get a glimpse at what it is like for Truman in school, and how he copes with those that target him. Mr. Reed did a solid job of showing the reader what it’s really like to live with constant bullying, no matter how subtle or harmless we as adults believe it is. When a child is targeted daily, even for something as small as whispered remarks, it has an accumulative effect, and can do irreparable damage. It was painful to read, but Truman is a star, and I fell in love with him, as I wept with him.

I enjoyed the relationship between Dane and Seth. They slowly built their relationship from coworkers, to more. It was believable and I felt their connection. I especially loved how easy going and free Seth was. He wasn’t pushy, but he was available to Dane. I liked that Seth spoke his mind when Dane blundered, and I think Dane liked it too. Seth was patient and accepting of Dane’s new situation, respecting the boundaries, but being clear about his feelings.

Coming back to Truman (because I seriously love this kid). His development was perfect. The way he took some advice and ran with it, regaining some control over his life at school, was beautiful. Truman was a very well fleshed out character, and the reader connection to him was there in spades. I think he stole this book for me. I wanted a whole book just with him.

I appreciated the struggle Dane went through. He is suddenly released, in the most tragic way, from hiding who he is, and finds it hard to reconcile whether he is betraying his wife, or whether she knew all along. It’s certainly a question that is never answered, but it’s something Dane has to find peace with as his feelings about himself change.

This story, while emotional, wasn’t overly heavy. It was serious, and dealt with hard life circumstances, but I wasn’t bogged down in despair. Nothing was dismissed, but it was handled in a way that gave constant hope and support, ensuring that I wasn’t wallowing, but truly enjoying the journey.

The relationship building was gradual, and paced really well. There is no frenzied coupling, or jumping into anything without thought. The story took the entire situation into account, and thoughtfully brought it to a natural state of connection between the two main leads.

There were some surprises in this story that I didn’t see coming, but looking back on it, make complete sense. No one knows what people hide behind or why. We only see what people show us from their public actions, and most of us will never know the inner workings of someone else’s mind, nor question the why of their public actions. I liked the deeper look into certain aspects of this story. It gave it an added layer, and an edge to the plot.

This is only the second Rick R. Reed story I have read, but I have loved the writing style, and complex character and plot building in both. The author is certainly an exceptional writer, and gives a complete fleshed out story, with no noticeable gaps. I finished this book feeling like I knew these characters well, and could see both their past and future. A very satisfying reading experience, from a very solid writer.

Check out on:

Dreamspinner Press


1 comment:

  1. Thank you so much for the thoughtful review and the kind words. You'll have me smiling all day!