Welcome to our Grand Finale celebrations for the amazing
In today's post, we'll take a look at the suspense novels and thrillers Rick has written, starting with The Couple Next Door. We'll also talk about Third Eye, and IM, plus our Q&A with Rick, and one final chance to win one of his books!!
First up, The Couple Next Door:
With the couple next door, nothing is as it seems.
Jeremy Booth leads a simple life, scraping by in the gay neighborhood of Seattle, never letting his lack of material things get him down. But the one thing he really wants someone to love seems elusive. Until the couple next door moves in and Jeremy sees the man of his dreams, Shane McCallister, pushed down the stairs by a brute named Cole.
Jeremy would never go after another man s boyfriend, so he reaches out to Shane in friendship while suppressing his feelings of attraction. But the feeling of something being off only begins with Cole being a hard-fisted bully it ends with him seeming to be different people at different times. Some days, Cole is the mild-mannered John and then, one night in a bar, he s the sassy and vivacious drag queen Vera.
So how can Jeremy rescue the man of his dreams from a situation that seems to get crazier and more dangerous by the day? By getting close to the couple next door, Jeremy not only puts a potential love in jeopardy, but eventually his very life.
I open the front door, and that’s when everything changes. My life turns upside down. I go from bored discontent to panic in a split second.
The first thing I hear is someone shouting “No!” in an anguished voice. I look up from the lobby to see two figures on the staircase above, on the second-floor landing. One is a guy who looks menacing and so butch he could pose for a Tom of Finland poster. An aura of danger radiates from him. Aside from his imposing and muscular frame, he’s even wearing the right clothes—tight, rolled jeans and a black leather biker jacket with a chain snaking out from beneath one of the epaulets. His high and tight buzzed hair gives him a military—and mean—air. He has his hands on the shoulders of a guy who looks a bit younger and much slighter, making me want to call up the stairs, “Why don’t you pick on someone your own size?” The smaller guy, blond and clad only in a pair of pajama bottoms, struggles with his attacker, looking terrified. Their movements, clumsy and rough, would be comical if they weren’t so scary. The smaller guy is panting and batting ineffectually at the bigger one.
“Please! No! Don’t!” the smaller guy manages to get out, his voice close to hysteria.
I have never seen either of these men before. In fact, the whole scene has the quality of the surreal, a dream. The danger and conflict pulsing down the stairs makes my own heart rate and respiration accelerate, causing feelings of panic to rise within me.
And then the worst happens. The big butch guy shoves the smaller one hard, and all at once he’s tumbling heavily down the stairs toward me.
The fall is graceless, and it looks like it hurts. It’s over so fast that I’m left gasping.
I look up to see the leather-jacket guy sneer down at his mate, lying crumpled and crying at my feet, and then turn sharply on his heel to go back into a second-floor apartment that had been vacant yesterday. He slams the door. The sound of the deadbolt sliding into place is like the report of a shotgun. Both slam and lock resound like thunderclaps, echoing in the tile lobby, punctuation to the drama and trauma of this short scene.
I switch into Good Samaritan mode and drop to my knees at the sniveling, crumpled mess of a man lying practically at my feet.
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Secondly in today's line-up, Third Eye:
Who knew that a summer thunderstorm and his lost little boy would conspire to change single dad Cayce D’Amico’s life in an instant? With Luke missing, Cayce ventures into the woods near their house to find his son, only to have lightning strike a tree near him, sending a branch down on his head. When he awakens the next day in the hospital, he discovers he has been blessed or cursed—he isn't sure which—with psychic ability. Along with unfathomable glimpses into the lives of those around him, he’s getting visions of a missing teenage girl.
When a second girl disappears soon after the first, Cayce realizes his visions are leading him to their grisly fates. Cayce wants to help, but no one believes him. The police are suspicious. The press wants to exploit him. And the girls' parents have mixed feelings about the young man with the "third eye."
Cayce turns to local reporter Dave Newton and, while searching for clues to the string of disappearances and possible murders, a spark ignites between the two. Little do they know that nearby, another couple—dark and murderous—are plotting more crimes and wondering how to silence the man who knows too much about them.
Outside, the wind was kicking up. Papers and small pieces of gravel skittered across the road in front of the house. Cars passing by had turned on their headlights, piercing the odd, darkening afternoon light. The maple trees lining the road bent in the wind, like fingers splayed backward. The sky had a funny greenish tinge, and Cayce had seen that weird green color enough times to know what the storm portended.
Cayce made his way down First Avenue, searching from side to side and pausing occasionally to rub a piece of grit out of his eye. “Luke!” He yelled, “Luke!” even louder when there was no response. Where was that boy?
A drop of water landed on his arm, icy. The rows of houses lining the yellow-bricked street had deserted porches, everyone escaped indoors. The lights switched on inside the houses made them look like sanctuaries, and Cayce wished he could be in his own sanctuary with his own son, smells of the Sicilian peasant food he had grown up on filling their little house. Cayce supposed his neighbors had all retreated into their living rooms, where they could turn on the Weather Channel or listen to the radio to validate what was happening before their eyes.
Everyone, that was, except for Lula Stewart, bless her. Lula, who had lost her husband the winter before, still sat on her glider, wispy dyed-black hair being lifted by the wind.
“He went thataway,” Lula called, pointing to where First Avenue dead-ended at the woods.
“Great,” Cayce whispered to himself, then said to Lula, “Thanks. I’m going to wring his little neck for him.”
“Be nice, Cayce. He’s only seven.”
“I know, I know.” Cayce headed for the darkness of the trees at the end of the street. As he picked up his pace, so did the wind and the droplets of water, coming heavier every second.
The sky flashed with white light. Cayce gasped as a crack of thunder ripped through the air, reverberating through the ground and leaving in its wake the smell of ozone. “God, that was close.” Why didn’t Luke have the sense to come in out of the rain?
The sky ripped open and released the downpour, a sibilant hiss, so heavy it nearly blinded Cayce. In seconds his T-shirt and board shorts were drenched, clinging to him like a second skin. Water sluiced from his curly black hair into his eyes. The sky morphed into premature night, brightened only by the lightning. The thunder’s crash upped Cayce’s sense of anxiety and fear with each crack. The volume and the bright lightning seemed to have a direct line to his heart, which hammered double time in his chest.
“Luke!” he screamed above the wind that yanked twigs and whole clumps of leaves from the trees above him. An orange drink carton hit Cayce in the back of the head.
“Luke!” He watched in despair as Oreo ran back toward the house, tail between his legs. “Traitor,” he called after the dog.
The woods were even darker than the street. Cayce held his hands out in front of him to avoid crashing into trees. Already, his flip-flops were making a sucking sound as he pulled his feet out of the mud.
Annoyed, Cayce wiped the icy rain away from his face, flinging his damp mop of black hair back, trying to see in the storm’s murk. In the brief bluish flash of lightning, the woods looked empty, deserted. Why couldn’t he see Luke cowering under a tree, or better yet, running toward him, hell, even running away from him? Anything but this dreadful emptiness, abandoning him to the woods and the storm.
“Luke!” he yelled again, his throat growing hoarse. He tried to keep his voice even so Luke wouldn’t think he was mad, so the little boy wouldn’t hear his dad’s fear. “Luke, if you can hear me, yell. I’m not mad.”
And he wasn’t, not at his little boy anyway, whom he pictured trembling under a tree or huddled under a neighbor’s porch, shivering, terrified, wet, and cold. But Cayce was angry at himself, for not keeping better tabs on the weather and the whereabouts of a seven-year-old. What was wrong with him? Maybe his mom was right; maybe Cayce was too young (and alone) to take on the responsibility of rearing another human being. She was always telling Cayce to give the boy back to his mother. “Little boys need their moms,” his own mom often proclaimed.
Apparently, though, moms didn’t always need their little boys. Case in point, Joyce, Cayce’s wife of less than a year, who was only too happy to leave the “burden” of Luke with Cayce when she abandoned them both four years ago, heading off without a backward glance for the presumably greener pastures of Portland, Oregon. Like Marc, Joyce apparently believed happiness awaited outside the city limits of Fawcettville, Pennsylvania.
“Luke!” he called once more, competing for dominance with the wind, the thunder, the driving rain.
But all that answered him was the roar of the storm and the sound of detritus whistling through the air and smacking against the trees. Cayce was beginning to think his quest was in vain, that Luke was probably already at home, sitting at the kitchen table and wondering where his dad was, hungry for his supper.
It happened so quickly Cayce only experienced the event through instincts, like an animal.
The flash was so bright, Cayce gasped, squeezing his eyes shut.
The scent of ozone filled the air. Hair stood up on the back of his neck, tickling.
The rumble of the thunder deafened, so loud and close it drowned out his scream. And the sharp break of the tree branch above his head was akin to the crack of a whip.
The limb crashing down on his head dropped him to his knees.
Everything went dark.
A little snippet from Sandra's review of Third Eye:
There's a wee bit of a romance inside, but it's not crucial nor does it take center stage.
What this book is, however, is terrifying.
From the first scene, in which we witness the abduction of a young girl, just barely a teenager, to the epilogue, this book takes the reader on a terrifyingly rapid roller-coaster, with an omniscient narrator portraying the multiple characters in this book, and making them all fit into the puzzle.
I'm glad I read this. It's not my usual fare, and I was scared for a lot of it, but it was absolutely worth reading.
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And third in line, IM:
The Internet is the new meat market for gay men. Now a killer is turning the meat market into a meat wagon.
One by one, he’s killing them. Lurking in the digital underworld of Men4HookUpNow.com, he lures, seduces, and charms, reaching out through instant messages to the unwary. When the first body surfaces, openly gay Chicago Police Department detective Ed Comparetto is called in to investigate. At the scene, the young man who discovered the body tells him the story of how he found his friend. But did this witness play a bigger role in the murder than he’s letting on?
For Comparetto, this encounter is the beginning of a nightmare—because this witness did more than just show up at the scene of the crime; he set the scene.
Comparetto is on a journey to discover the truth—before he loses his career, his boyfriend, his sanity… his life. Because in this killer's world, IM doesn't stand for instant message… it stands for instant murder.
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Our Q&A with Rick:
What inspires you? What gets you writing?
The world. Everything around me. Dreams. Snatches of overheard conversations. News stories. The biew out my window. Great art. It’s any and all of the above, really.
What's your writing process? Seat of your pants, lots of sticky notes, complex spreadsheets?
Seat of my pants. The characters come first, and once I have a real connection with them (and, of course a general idea of the story arc), I’m off to the races. They shape the direction and the plot, and creating a book is often as much of a journey of discovery for me as it is for the reader.
Which character from your books is your favorite, and why?
That’s like asking me to choose my favorite child! Well, that wouldn’t be so hard since I only have the one son. But you get the idea….
I really love all my characters for different reasons and that’s probably because there’s a part of me in every character I create (even the twisted ones!). One that has a special place in my heart, though, was Andy from my novel, Blink. The first part takes place in the 1980s when Andy is a closeted young man about to be married in a couple of months when he has a connection with a gorgeous Cuban man on the Chicago L. It’s a bittersweet “missed opportunity” that actually happened in my life.
In my romanctic suspense novel, The Couple Next Door, I am a lot like my main character, Jeremy, who longs to have his writing recognized by a publisher (he’s younger than I am; I was there once too). He’s also a lot like me in his sensitivity and his need to provide solace to damaged people (which is why he falls so hard for Shane, his new neighbor, who appears to be in a domestic violence situation).
If you could go back into one of your books and change one thing, what would that be? And why?
Ah, I’d probably change hundreds of things. That’s why I never re-read books once they’ve been published. So, I guess the answer would be I wouldn’t change anything, but not because I think they’re perfect, but more because once I got started, I’d never stop.
What's next for you? What amazing book are you working on?
I recently finished my first full-length novel collaboration with the very gifted and very easy-to-work with Vivien Dean. Our book, Stranded with Desire, will be in Dreamspinner’s new line called Dreamspun Desires. Our story combines a closeted CEO, his faithful assistant who’s secretly in love with him (and thinks it’s hopeless because he assumes his boss is straight), and a plane crash in the Cascade Mountains that teach both men about what’s really important in life—and love.
Look for it in August of 2016.
About the author:
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). Raining Men and Caregiver have both won the Rainbow Award for gay 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."
Thanks for joining us again this week to celebrate this wonderful author. We hope that you've found some new books to add to your TBR. :-)
Until next time, happy reading!!