Although he’s forty, Bobby still looks young enough to turn men’s heads—or at least that’s what he tells himself as he goes through rounds of sexual encounters, sometimes numbering in the dozens a night. He still loves Caden even though Caden has moved on and refuses to speak to him. All Bobby wants is sex. Pure. Simple. No attachments. No promises.
As it seems many gay men do, Bobby feels like he’s been a disappointment to his father, not being man enough even though Bobby is a marketing executive, successful enough to own a swanky apartment, designer clothes, and a lavish lifestyle. When his father dies unexpectedly, Bobby is stunned.
At the funeral, Bobby meets an old high school acquaintance, who having lost a lot of weight, is now strikingly handsome and buff. But Wade, as a volunteer with the Lifelong AIDS Alliance passing out condoms, has seen Bobby voluntarily having sex with a string of strangers at a gay club. Despite that, he still thinks of Bobby as one of the “nice” ones, one of the high school kids who hadn’t made fun of him or tormented him, and wants to get to know him better.
Reflecting on his life, Bobby realizes all he wants is love from one really good friend, the kind of closeness he had with Caden. However, as Bobby renews his acquaintance with Wade, the man tells him what Caden told him before: Bobby needs professional help. When Bobby sees a psychologist, she tells him he is a sexual addict, trying to cover up problems with meaningless sex, and should attend Sex Addicts Anonymous (SAA). Bobby follows her advice and meets Aaron there, who’s a sounding board whenever Bobby needs one.
From there Reed paints a realistic picture of a man trying to break an addiction and change himself even though neither his family nor his string of past hook-ups is helping him. Like all recovery stories, it isn’t pretty, but hits to the heart of all true recovery tales. Bobby must hit what he sees as rock bottom before he’s able to pull himself up with the help of new friends.
I thoroughly disliked Bobby in Chaser, so I was intrigued when I learned he would be Reed’s protagonist. As the saying goes, what’s to like in Bobby? But Reed knows how to make his readers appreciate, then like, and finally love Bobby. More than anything, Bobby’s sincerity shines through, making him more than someone who gives lip-service to recovery.
Wade and Aaron, as Bobby’s love interests, are just as believable and sympathetic as Bobby is. And Caden, who is happy with his new love and really doesn’t want to deal with Bobby and his psychological hang-ups, is the perfect catalyst to make Bobby stop and think. Bobby sees what Caden has and wants the same loving regard from someone, but has no clue how to get it.
My only equivocation rests on the didactic tone Reed uses when he explains what groups like the Lifelong AIDS Alliance and SAA do. Then the raw intensity of the story becomes almost academic, breaking the mood Reed has created. Fortunately, Reed’s able to get back quickly to his previous tone, and the story flows as it had.
Reed has been writing gay novels for quite a while and it’s nice to see him gain more recognition with time. I eagerly look forward to his next gay romance.