Rating: 5 stars
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In his latest release, The Perils of Intimacy, Rick R. Reed draws us into the wrenching story of a young man who dares to dream that his life can truly be different the second time around. Two years clean, Jimmy has clawed his way back from a drug-addicted life that had led him to do despicable things and nearly killed him. Now working in a diner, Jimmy defies the odds each day by staying clean and slowly rebuilding his life piece by piece. When he catches sight of the beautiful fox at one of his tables, he feels immediately drawn to the man and takes a risk by slipping him his number. When he realizes why the man seems so familiar, Jimmy is devastated, but some small part of himself refuses to abandon the hope that somehow fate will be kind and for once let him have the man who has haunted his past for so long.
Marc has lived a life driven by the need to be accepted and wanted. Now approaching middle age, he is finding it hard to accept that he can no longer be satisfied by a quick one night stand that has always hidden the deeper need for the relationship he has craved. His past is not something Marc likes to look at too closely for it is riddled with risky behavior and dangerous hook-ups that has left him empty and alone. One particular past encounter with a nameless stranger left a violent mark on his memory and has become a painful reminder of how close to the edge he danced in his desperation to be noticed. When Marc meets the boy in the diner, there is something so familiar about him, something that tugs at him in a way that lures him into taking a chance once more to discover if a stranger can become something more. Little does either man know that they are intimately connected and that their last time together was a turning point in both their lives.
It is no secret that I am a Rick R. Reed fan and have enjoyed many of his past works. However, nothing could have prepared me for the way in which this novel would crawl under my skin and capture my heart and imagination so utterly. Reed has struck literary gold with these two characters and the story he weaves about their lives then and now is incredibly forceful and emotionally rich. I doubt I have ever loved an anti-hero such as Jimmy quite so much. Broken and definitely soiled, Jimmy has done some truly awful things in his past in his pursuit of his next high. Besides nearly killing himself on his drug of choice, he has a string of petty crimes and meaningless, risky sexual encounters that left him filled with self-loathing and despair. Two sponsors will step into his life and help him cling to a clean life while also forcing him to begin to understand that he must love himself first before he will ever be able to love another person.
Jimmy is a writer’s triumph when it comes to creating a character that moves the reader so fully. To say the young man tugs at your heartstrings and pulls you into his story completely is an understatement. The way in which the author makes Jimmy so achingly vulnerable prompts every protective emotion a reader has and you are instantly rooting for him to finally succeed in finding someone to love and be loved by in return. It’s not so much that you overlook what a monster the drugs had turned Jimmy into, but rather you see how desperately hard he is trying to be a different man—one that has earned forgiveness despite what he has done.
Then there is Marc who has dealt with his own demons—one nearly as addictive as Jimmy’s dance with drugs. For Marc, this novel is about discovering himself and finally seeing the real man in the mirror—one that is not nearly as innocent a victim as he had believed himself to be all those years. His story is vastly different from Jimmy’s and yet I fear will be achingly familiar to many. His past is littered with meaningless sexual encounters that were not only laced with a bit of dangerous behavior, but also repeatedly acted out night after night in pursuit of an elusive relationship that masked an underlying need to be desired and wanted. The coupling of these two men was genius and created a story that left lasting impressions and fierce desires to see them both happy, safe and in love.
The Perils of Intimacy is one of Rick R. Reed’s finest works and a novel that you will not want to miss. I highly recommend it to you.
This sounds intense but gripping. Thanks for sharing your enthusiasm, Sammy. (FYI: Your signature is missing!)