Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Length: 67,000 words
Cover: Aaron Anderson
A monster moves through the night, hidden by the darkness, taking men, one by one, from Seattle’s gay gathering areas.
Amid an atmosphere of crippling fear, Thad Matthews finds his first true love working in an Italian restaurant called the Blue Moon Café. Sam Lupino is everything Thad has ever hoped for in a man: virile, sexy as hell, kind, and… he can cook!
As their romance heats up, the questions pile up. Who is the killer preying on Seattle’s gay men? What secrets is Sam’s Sicilian family hiding? And more importantly, why do Sam's unexplained disappearances always coincide with the full moon?
The strength of Thad and Sam’s love will face the ultimate test when horrific revelations come to light beneath the full moon.
“Buona Sera” by Louis Prima played from the overhead speaker system. Thad was certain the rest of the evening would be peppered with the likes of Dean Martin, Jerry Vale, Rosemary Clooney, and of course, Sinatra. Underneath the music was the usual restaurant orchestra: conversation, laughter, the clink of glassware and the tinkle of silverware.
The scents of garlic, oregano, basil, and tomatoes perfumed the air. Over a counter at the rear of the restaurant, Thad could see into the kitchen: a wood-burning oven, chefs busy at their stations, the occasional upsurge of flame as one of them poured alcohol into a pan and ignited it by tipping the pan. Thad’s mouth began to water.
He already liked this place.
And he liked it even more when he saw the bartender, who was busy drying wineglasses and reaching up to hang them upside down on a rack above the bar. He was a compact little guy, olive skin and shaved head. His muscles tested the endurance of the black T-shirt he wore, and even from his vantage near the hostess stand, Thad could make out the thick black five o’clock shadow that covered his jaw. He was just the kind of guy Thad fantasized about. One who would take him roughly and be in charge.
Stop it, now! I’m in Green Lake, not Capitol Hill. This guy probably has a wife and two kids at home and would not appreciate how I’m imagining how he would look should the seams of that tight T-shirt burst and reveal a defined and hairy chest. He wouldn’t cotton at all to my thoughts of wondering how his asshole would taste, for cryin’ out loud.
Or maybe he would….
Thad grinned and bounced up and down a couple of times on his heels, feeling strangely energized and definitely a little smitten.
Shut up, horndog. Behave yourself.
WOW. Talk about a prologue setting the tone and pulling you straight into the story. The start to this book is dark, and then some. There’s a full moon and a monster is hunting, choosing his prey and striking, thus setting the scene for what’s to come.
Except that the tone of the story appears to change as soon as the prologue is over. The next few chapters, during which Thad and Sam first meet, are anything but horrific. The two men are instantly drawn to each other and their coming together is sweet and sexy. Thad and Sam’s coming together appears to be destined, as if these two men are made for each other. In fact I’d almost forgotten about the monster lurking in the background until it struck again, once more during a full moon.
I don’t want to say too much about the monster, except that his attacks continue and appear to be aimed at Seattle’s gay community. Who the monster is and exactly why it is killing, is a mystery each reader should get to ‘enjoy’ for themselves. I thought I had the mystery solved early on, only for one or two red herrings to throw me off again. This is just the way I like my mysteries, and it was very well done in this book.
My heart ached for Thad and Sam. After their near perfect coming together the odds appear to be stacked against them. They have so much to overcome, the obstacles they have to overcome are so huge it at times feels like theirs is a hopeless case and for a while I feared this book might turn out not to be a romance after all.
It is very hard to write this review without giving too much away, so I’m keeping this one short. I do want to say that I completely lost myself in this story. Rick R. Reed pulled me into a world that closely resembles mine but isn’t quite the same. He created a wonderful and imaginative combination between horror and romance that worked like a charm even for me who doesn’t really do ‘horrific’ stories.
I do have one admission to make. While I adored both Sam and Thad, I think my favourite character in this book was Jared. As secondary characters go he was perfect and I do hope he gets (or maybe has already gotten, I must check) his own story. He’s such a wonderful friend to Thad, and I can so see something fascinating and thrilling happening to him and TJ.
Overall this was a story that forced me to step outside my comfort zone and totally engrossed me in the process. The balance between romance, angst, mystery, and horror was just about perfect and has left me thinking I may have to take a closer look at other darker stories. Rick R. Reed is fast turning into favourite, must-read, author for me.
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). He is also a Rainbow Award Winner for both Caregiver and Raining Men. 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."
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