Welcome to our third week of celebrations for the amazing
In today's post, we'll be looking at Hungry For Love, Husband Hunters, and Legally Wed, plus a personal story Rick has chosen to share. And all the way at the bottom, there'll be another chance to win one of Rick's fabulous books!
First up, Hungry For Love:
Nate Tippie and Brandon Wilde are gay, single, and both hoping to meet that special man, even though fate has not yet delivered him to their doorstep. Nate's sister, Hannah, and her kooky best friend, Marilyn, are about to help fate with that task by creating a profile on the gay dating site, OpenHeartOpenMind. The two women are only exploring, but when they need a face and body for the persona they create, they use Nate as the model.
When Brandon comes across the false profile, he falls for the guy he sees online. Keeping up the charade, Hannah begins corresponding with him, posing as Nate. Real complications begin when Brandon wants to meet Nate, but Nate doesn’t even know he’s being used in the online dating ruse. Hannah and Marilyn concoct another story and send Nate out to let the guy down gently. But when Nate and Brandon meet, the two men feel an instant and powerful pull toward each other. Cupid seems to have shot his bow, but how do Nate and Brandon climb out from under a mountain of deceit without letting go of their chance at love?
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Secondly, today, Husband Hunters:
You never know where the love of your life might turn up.
When Matt Connelly suggests to his best buddy Cody Mook that they head to downtown Seattle to audition for the gay reality TV show Husband Hunters, both agree the experience might be a lark and a chance to grab their fifteen minutes of fame. What they don't know is that the show, modeled after HGTV's House Hunters, will open doors of longing neither expected. For Matt, the secret love he has long harbored for Cody might be thrust into the spotlight. Cody might realize his search for his perfect-forever-man extends no farther than the man who's always been at his side.
Husband Hunters promises laughter, tears, and, just maybe, a happy ever after. Will Cody and Matt's story be one of best-friends-to-lovers—or an outright disaster?
Cody couldn’t believe the man sitting across the small bar-height table from him was actually his date. Sure, Cody was a good-looking guy, but this guy, man, this guy was so out of his league that Cody didn’t even feel a twinge of shame in thinking it. This god belonged with some pro athlete or a model or movie star. He was that hot.
And that familiar.
When Cody was introduced to Diesel Hunter, he remembered him right away from the auditions. Diesel was probably the man he had admired the most that day that now seemed so long ago. He was the one who looked like the actor Jesse Williams from Grey’s Anatomy. Cody, almost breathless from Diesel’s good looks, thought the actor was more of a pale imitation of this guy than the other way around. Jesse Williams, one might say, was actually a poor man’s Diesel Hunter.
Even his name was sexy! It sounded like a porn star.
Cody could not believe his good fortune as he hopped up on the chair opposite Diesel. “Hi,” he said shyly.
Diesel was warm, though, reaching across the table to grab his hand, squeeze it, and hold it tightly for longer than the usual handshake. While they shook hands, Cody peered into Diesel’s eyes. They were so pale, standing out in contrast to his caramel-colored skin. They looked even more remarkable since Diesel had shaved his head since Cody had last seen him. The lack of hair made his eyes somehow stand out even more, which Cody wouldn’t have believed possible. What color were those eyes? Gray? Blue? They fell somewhere in between. They were like icy water. They were cold and mesmerizing all at once.
“Excuse me for staring.” Cody pulled his hand away reluctantly, forgetting the cameras all around, the boom microphone over his head, the extra lighting the crew had brought in. “But your eyes.”
Diesel smiled. “I know. They’re weird. Spooky.”
“Not at all! They’re gorgeous.”
Cody could see a blush rise to Diesel’s cheeks even under his dark complexion. He’s modest too? Should I just propose now? Cody grinned.
Diesel waved his hand to brush the compliment away. “Some people think they’re too intense.”
Diesel cast his gaze around the room, and Cody realized the guy was nervous. Of course he was. Cody was fawning over him like a little schoolgirl over a puppy. But he wanted to fuck this puppy, so bad. For the first time since he was maybe thirteen, he had a champion boner that he doubted would go down anytime soon. He shook his head and laughed out loud.
“What?” Diesel asked.
“Just a funny thought.”
“Not gonna share?” Diesel stuck out a pouting lower lip fetchingly.
“Not right now.” A change of subject was definitely in order. With a trembling hand, Cody snatched up the menu before him. “What looks good?” He began furiously scanning the type, which suddenly seemed to be hieroglyphics. He hoped his shaking hand was not visible in the camera’s lens.
“Cut! Cut! Cut!” Martha’s gravelly voice sounded from behind the lights. She appeared suddenly at Cody’s side, smelling of Chanel N° 5 and, already, vodka. “What’s wrong with you?”
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And third in today's line-up, we have Legally Wed:
Love comes along when you least expect it. That’s what Duncan Taylor’s sister, Scout, tells him. Scout has everything Duncan wants—a happy life with a wonderful husband. Now that Seattle has made gay marriage legal, Duncan knows he can have the same thing. But when he proposes to his boyfriend Tucker, he doesn’t get the answer he hoped for. Tucker’s refusal is another misstep in a long line of failed romances. Despairing, Duncan thinks of all the loving unions in his life—and how every one of them is straight. Maybe he could be happy, if not sexually compatible, with a woman. When zany, gay-man-loving Marilyn Samples waltzes into his life, he thinks he may have found his answer.
Determined to settle, Duncan forgets his sister’s wisdom about love and begins planning a wedding with Marilyn. But life throws Duncan a curveball. When he meets wedding planner Peter Dalrymple, unexpected sparks ignite. Neither man knows how long he can resist his powerful attraction to the other. For sure, there’s a wedding in the future. But whose?
Same-sex marriage had just become legal in Washington State and Duncan Taylor didn’t plan on wasting any time. He had been dating Tucker McBride for more than three years and, ever since the possibility of marriage had become more than just a pipe dream, it was all Duncan could think of. He had thought of it as he gazed out the windows of his houseboat on Lake Union, on days both sunny and gray (since it was late autumn, there were a lot more of the latter); he had thought of it as he stood before his classroom of fourth graders at Cascade Elementary School. He had thought of it when he woke up in the morning and before he fell asleep at night.
For Duncan, marriage was the peak, the happy ending, the icing on the cake, the culmination of one’s hearts desire, a commitment of a lifetime, the joining of two souls. For Duncan, it was landing among the stars.
And for Duncan, who would turn 38 on his next birthday, it was also something he had never dared dream would be possible for him.
And now, too excited to sleep, he was thinking about it—hard—once again. It was just past midnight on December 6, 2012 and the local TV news had pre-empted its regular programming to take viewers live to Seattle City Hall, where couples were forming a serpentine line to be among the first in the state to be issued their marriage licenses—couples who had also for far too long believed this right would be one they would never be afforded. Many clung close together to ward off the chill, but Duncan knew their reasons for canoodling went far deeper than that.
The mood, in spite of the darkness pressing in all around, was festive. There was a group serenading the couples in line, singing “Going to the Chapel.” Champagne corks popped in the background. Laughter.
Duncan couldn’t keep the smile off his face as he watched all the male-male and female-female couples in the line, their mood of jubilation, of love, of triumph traveling through to him even here on his houseboat two or three miles north of downtown. Duncan wiped tears from his eyes as he saw not only the couples but also all the supporters, city workers, and volunteers who had crowded together outside City Hall to wish the new couples well, to share in the happiness of the historic moment.
And then Duncan couldn’t help it, he fell into all-out blubbers as the first couple to get their license emerged from City Hall. 85-year-old Pete-e Peterson and her partner and soon-to-be-wife, Jane Abbott Lighty, were all smiles when a reporter asked them how they felt.
“We waited a long time. We’ve been together 35 years, never thinking we’d get a legal marriage. Now I feel so joyous I can hardly stand it,” Pete-e said.
It was such a special moment and it was all Duncan could do not to pick up the phone and call Tucker and casually say something like, “Hey honey, you want to get married?”
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(Originally appeared in USA Today)
The Gay Man Who Sought a Straight Woman for Marriage
If you talk to writers, especially fiction writers, about the question they get asked most often, I’d be willing to bet at least 99% of them would say the same thing—where do you get your ideas? It’s a question that’s as silly as it is profound. Who knows where inspiration comes from, really? We can give a glib, smart-ass response, like “On eBay,” but the truth is where an idea hails from can often be as much a mystery for the artist as it is for his or her ultimate viewer.
In my case, I was asked that question a lot about my  book, Legally Wed, which is a romantic comedy about a gay man’s journey to finding real love. I would say, as a resident of Washington State and as a gay man who married his husband on the very first day that same-sex was made legal here, that it was that historic event which inspired me. In fact, that’s the very line I’ve given to interviewers about the book. I’d tell them something like:
If you read the opening to the book, you know what inspired me. It was when Washington state legalized same-sex marriage. My now-husband and I were some of the first people in line down at City Hall in the wee small hours of the morning to get our marriage license on the first day we could. There was such joy at City Hall that morning, both from couples getting their licenses and the employees and supporters who had come out to witness this historic moment. I wanted to write about not just love, but marriage and to do it in a framework that examined both. It’s one of my most heartfelt stories and, in many ways, mirrors my own life.
It’s that last line, “mirrors my own life” that later gave me pause and made me realize where I truly got my inspiration for Legally Wed.
The whole time I was writing the book, I thought I was just writing a kind of lighthearted tale about a gay man, disappointed in love and hungering for the commitment he saw in his own family of origin all around, getting drunk one night and, on a lark, placing an ad on Craigslist: Gay Man Seeks Straight Woman for Marriage.
It wasn’t until long after I wrote the book, gone through the editing process, and saw the book for sale on bookshelves that I realized my inspiration did not come from just wanting to write, in a fun and touching way, about the hot topic of gay marriage, but how my own life mirrored the book. I think that correlation had been buried deep in my subconscious the whole time I was writing.
See, I was the Gay Man Who Sought a Straight Woman for Marriage.
Unlike my main character in Legally Wed, though, I did not come up with my idea one drunken night. No, my idea, like my main character’s, was borne of a deep-seated desire for commitment and family. For a young man who grew up in the 1960s and 1970s, the road to that fulfillment was through marriage, to a woman. Thirty some years ago, when I married the female love of my life (let’s call her Alison), there was no other road open to me for marriage and family.
In 1982, the idea that two men or two women could get married? I’m sure I thought at the time: never gonna happen. It was so far out of reach as to seem like the stuff of fantasy or science fiction.
So I met Alison and here’s the thing: I fell in love with her. I adored her. She made me laugh. We had a great sex life (sorry, son, if you’re reading this—more about you later). We were a team, a kind of you and me against the world.
Unlike my main character in Legally Wed, I was not drunk when I proposed. No, I was filled with hope and with the dreamer’s belief that if someone really wanted something bad enough, he could have it.
People ask me: did you know you were gay when you got married? And I tell them, yes, I knew. I had had the feelings from as far back as I could remember. Heck, I was a huge Bette Midler fan at 13—that should have told me all I needed to know!
But seriously, knowing something and accepting it are two different things. I knew I had these feelings, but I pushed them deep down. I refused to examine them. And I knew, with my relationship and marriage to Alison, that those feelings would go away. After all, I loved a woman. I had sex with a woman. I couldn’t be gay, not really. My hope led me to the belief, supported by many more people now back then than today, that I could change.
That change would make me a better man, a better member of society, and ultimately happier.
But like Duncan in Legally Wed, I was to discover that the marriage of a gay person to a straight one was destined for disaster. It took seven years, the birth of our son, and the intervention of a very level-headed and compassionate therapist to help me see, at last, that I was not some damaged thing, needing to hide my true self away from the rest of the world, wearing a mask. It took seven years (and probably a lot more before that) for me to at last put down the sword and the shield and stop fighting with—myself.
Like Duncan in my book, I realized that I could love and even adore women, maybe even at times prefer their company to the company of men, but ultimately, I needed to be who I was.
It was very hard to say goodbye to Alison, to no longer live under the same roof with our then six-year-old son. But I could no longer live a lie. There were tears, recriminations, court battles, bitterness, pain, but I’m glad to report that all three of us came out the other side still loving one another.
My Duncan and his intended, Marilyn, go through the same struggle, in a much more compressed time frame, and came out understanding that, even though they were not meant to be a married couple, they were meant to be great friends and truly love one another. Their friendship and closeness is a bedrock message of my book.
And, to this day, my love for Alison, even though we’re separated by many miles, continues to be a bedrock for me. I can never remove, nor would I want to, the place she has in my heart. We have a child together and that alone bonds us for a lifetime. Like marriage.
In Legally Wed, Duncan does find his true love, when he least expects it, when he’s essentially stopped looking for it. The same was true for me. I thought, after I divorced, I would find a parallel relationship with a special guy. And I tried on, let’s just say, many, many pairs of shoes. But none of them fit.
Like Duncan, I gave up. And two months after giving up and deciding that I would be just fine living alone in my dream vintage apartment in Chicago, I met him. That was almost twelve years ago now and he completely spoiled my plans for living alone and the freedom to binge on ice cream and vodka at three a.m.
And I couldn’t be happier. Bruce is the man I stood in line with at City Hall in the wee hours of the morning of December 6, 2012, to be one of the first couples in Washington State to obtain our marriage license. We had a small wedding three days later, in our home in front of the fireplace with our Boston terrier, Lily, at our feet. Even though Bruce and I had been together for more than a decade by that point, we both realized when we woke up the next day as a married couple that we felt different. More committed. But mostly, more like a family….
To wrap things up, I mentioned earlier that Alison and I had a son. The irony about Nicholas was that he too, like his dad, turned out to be gay. When he came out to me in his senior year of high school, I was shocked and a little unmoored. Believe it or not, I had no idea. I asked the question no parent of a gay child should ever ask (and certainly not one who was gay himself!): are you sure?
Of course he was sure. We are sure of the color of our eyes, our height, and everything else that makes us unique. It was a dumb question and one I will forever regret.
I hope that I was able to make up for my initial reaction a few years later, when Nicholas met the love of his life and told me they were going to marry. By then, he had moved to Montreal, where marriage was legal for all people in love, and they would be able to make it official.
Would I be willing to officiate? One of my many happy endings that I am thankful for is that I got to preside over the wedding of my son and his husband, to help see them off into the world together. I thank God Nicholas faced only in small measure the hardships, prejudice, and bigotry I did. He is now a champion against those things and I couldn’t be more proud of him. And I couldn’t love my new son, Tarik, more.
Bruce was among the happy assembled that hot day in August when Nicholas and Tarik said their vows. Our own marriage was still a few years off, still something hoped for, but not something we were at all certain we would ever be allowed to have, which made the day slightly bittersweet.
Also among the assembled that day was my son’s mother and my former wife. We celebrated together and couldn’t have been happier for our son, poised on the brink of a life together with his beloved, full of hope.
That day, my mind naturally, strayed to two other weddings, one in my past and another—hoped for—in my future.
The thought came to me then (and maybe I squirreled it away in my subconscious for a book I would write one day when the time was right): all these marriages I thought of on my son’s wedding day shared one thing: they were about love.
I realized that it's not about what's between our legs, but what's between our ears...and in our hearts.
Love is love.
Why on earth, or in God's name, would anyone want to deny that to his or her fellow man or woman? We can only be strengthened, as families, as a society, by encouraging and celebrating love and commitment.
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). 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 today. Come back next week for more of Rick's book (when we'll take a look at his suspense and horror novels), and our Q&A with the author. Plus, one last chance to win one of his books.
Until then, happy reading!!