Contemporary · lgbtqia content · mental health · substance abuse

REVIEW: Blue Umbrella Sky by Rick R. Reed

The Official Description: Lambda Literary Award Finalist for Gay Romance

Milt Grabaur has left his life, home, and teaching career in Ohio to start anew. The Summer Winds trailer park in Palm Springs, butted up against the San Jacinto mountain range, seems the perfect place to forget the pain of nursing his beloved husband through Alzheimer’s and seeing him off on his final passage.

Billy Blue is a sexy California surfer type who once dreamed of being a singer but now works at Trader Joe’s and lives in his own trailer at Summer Winds. He’s focused on recovery from the alcoholism that put his dreams on hold.

When his new neighbor moves in, Billy falls for the gray-eyed man. His sadness and loneliness awaken something Billy’s never felt before—real love.

When a summer storm and flash flood jeopardize Milt’s home, Billy comes to the rescue, hoping the two men might get better acquainted…and maybe begin a new romance.

But Milt’s devotion to his late husband is strong, and he worries that acting on his attraction will be a betrayal.

Just the facts: M/M partnership, Dealing with the loss of a spouse, dealing with addiction

This book isn’t a traditional romance. It’s about love in the past, grief and opening up to the possibility of a future.- Kinzie Things

 

My thoughts bit: Most of Rick R. Reed’s books are an automatic request for me when it comes to reviews. I’m so glad that I read Blue Umbrella Sky. This book isn’t really a romance in the usual sense…but I’ll explain that!

When the book begins, Milt is living in a trailer in Palm Springs… When his husband died of Alzheimer’s, he sold his house and left behind his friends to start over. The problem seems to be that he didn’t really start over, he just continued to exist. He’s living in a trailer with his dog Ruby.

A flood catches him off guard and he is rescued by his neighbor, Billy. Who would know that flooding was even a possibility in Palm Springs!? Well, Billy does. Billy has been trying to get Milt’s attention, but Milt is so wrapped up in his grief that he doesn’t even see it.

And here is where this book differs from other romances. This isn’t just about a potential new relationship, it’s about first love. It’s about living a full and loving life with someone, losing them, and then trying to figure out what is next. Milt had a fantastic marriage but when Corky became ill… he began to slip away from Milt. Of course, Milt stuck with him. He cared for his husband, watched over him and continued to love him even between the few moments of clarity that remained.

This past love in Milt’s life is a touching story. Losing a partner to such a terrible illness is all-encompassing and the grief can be completely overwhelming. I really liked how Rick wrote Milt’s character. He wasn’t overwhelmed by his grief all the time…but he had those familiar moments that shock him: a mug on the counter, dreams of a conversation, a touch. Rick has written a beautiful and subtle exploration of a character’s guilt, relief, fear, sadness and all the other emotions and feelings that are wrapped up in losing someone. Corky and Milt’s love was the read kind. It was messy and painful in the end, but there are so many memories for Milt to relish in as he tries to move on.

Billy is on his own journey in this novel. He is an alcoholic in recovery. He spotted Milt when he first moved in and despite his attempts to introduce himself, they don’t become friends until a minor flood gives an unexpected opportunity. Billy is confident and insecure at the same time. He’s a lovely character and I really enjoyed reading about his journey with his sobriety. It was well thought out and very authentic.

This is one of those books that will lead you on a bit of a journey in your own mind. There’s a lot to think about as you read along with these two characters. I loved this beautiful story.

Things You May Want To Know: Please be aware, I’m by no means an expert on what may or may not have the potential to disturb people. I simply list things that I think a reader might want to be aware of. In this book: (SPOILERS) Descriptions of a person living with Alzheimer’s, death of a partner in past, grief, descriptions of substance abuse, a character in recovery, descriptions of alcoholism, a dog gets lost (and is found but the owner is stressed and anxious), description of a minor flood,

Links: Goodreads // The Author // The Publisher

I received an ARC of Blue Umbrella Sky by Rick R. Reed from NineStar Press via Netgalley in exchange for an unbiased review.

 

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