Tag Archives: bullying

New Release Blitz: Big Love by Rick R. Reed

Big Love | Rick R. Reed

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Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: May 18, 2020

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 64,100

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Blurb

Teacher Dane Bernard is a gentle giant, loved by all at Summitville High School. He has a beautiful wife, two kids, and an easy rapport with staff and students alike. But Dane has a secret, one he expects to keep hidden for the rest of his life—he’s gay. But when he loses his wife, Dane finally confronts his attraction to men.

A new teacher, Seth Wolcott, immediately catches his eye. Seth is also starting over, licking his wounds from a breakup, and the last thing Seth wants is another relationship—but when he spies Dane on his first day at Summitville High, his attraction is immediate and electric.

As the two men enter into a dance of discovery and new love, they’re called upon to come to the aid of bullied gay student Truman Reid. Truman is out and proud, which not everyone at his small-town high school approves of.

As the two men work to help Truman ignore the bullies and love himself without reservation, they all learn life-changing lessons about coming out, coming to terms, acceptance, heartbreak, and falling in love.

Excerpt

Big Love
Rick R. Reed © 2020
All Rights Reserved

Truman Reid was white as a stick of chalk—skin so pale it was nearly translucent. His blue eyes were fashioned from icy spring water. His hair—platinum blond—lay in curls across his forehead and spilled down his neck. He was the kind of boy for whom adjectives like “lovely” and “pretty” would most definitely apply. More than once in his life, he was mistaken for a girl.

When he was a very little boy, well-meaning strangers (and some not so well-meaning) would ask if he was a boy or a girl. Truman was never offended by the question, because he could see no shame in being mistaken for a girl. It wasn’t until later that he realized there were some who would think the question offensive.

But this boy, who, on the first day of school, boldly and some might say unwisely wore a T-shirt that proclaimed “It Gets Better” beneath an image of a rainbow flag, didn’t seem to possess the pride the T-shirt proclaimed. At Summitville High School, even though it was 2015, one did not shout out one’s sexual orientation, not in word, not in fashion, and certainly not in deed.

Who knew what caused Truman to break with convention that morning when he made up his mind to wear that T-shirt on the first day of school? It wasn’t like he needed to proclaim anything—after all, the slight, effeminate boy had been the object of bullies and torturers since, oh, about second grade. Truman could never “pass.”

He was a big sissy. It was a fact and one Truman had no choice but to accept.

His shoulders, perpetually hunched, hunched farther during his grade school and junior high years, when such epithets as “sissy,” “fag,” “pansy,” and “queer” were hurled at him in school corridors and playgrounds on a daily basis. Truman knew the old schoolyard chant wasn’t true at all—words could and did hurt. And so, occasionally, did fists and hands.

And yet, despite the teasing—or maybe it’s more apt to say because of it—Truman was not ashamed of who and what he was. His single mom, Patsy, his most vocal supporter and defender, often told him the same thing. “God made you just the way you are, honey. Beautiful. And if you’re one of his creations, there’s nothing wrong in who you are. You just hold your head up and be proud.” The sad truth was, Patsy would often tell her boy stuff like this as she brushed tears away from his face.

It wasn’t only tears she brushed away, though. Her unconditional love also brushed away any doubt Truman might have had that he was anything other than a normal boy, even though he was not like most of the boys his age in Summitville, Ohio, that backward little burg situated on the Ohio River and in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. In spite of the teasing and the bullying—and the pain they caused—Truman wasn’t ashamed of who he was, which was what led him to wearing the fated T-shirt that got him in so much trouble his first day as a freshman at Summitville High School.

The incident occurred near the end of the day, when everyone was filing into the school gymnasium for an orientation assembly and a speech from the school’s principal, Doug Calhoun, on what the returning students and incoming freshmen could expect that year.

Truman was in the crush of kids making their way toward the bleachers. High school was no different than grade school or junior high in that Truman was alone. And even though this was the first day of school, Truman already had a large three-ring binder tucked under his arm, along with English Composition, Biology, and Algebra I textbooks. Tucked into the notebook and books were papers—class schedules of assignments and the copious notes the studious Truman had already taken.

Kirk Samson, a senior and starting quarterback on the football team, knew the laughs he could get if he tripped this little fag in his pride-parade T-shirt, so he held back a little in the crowd, waiting for just the right moment to thrust out a leg in front of the unsuspecting Truman, whose eyes were cast down to the polished gymnasium floor.

Truman didn’t see the quarterback’s leg until it was too late, and he stumbled, going down hard on one knee. That sight was not the funniest thing the crowd had seen, although the pratfall garnered a roar of appreciative laughter at Truman’s expense. But what was funnier was when Truman’s notebook, books, and papers all flew out from under his arm, landing in a mess on the floor.

Kirk, watching from nearby with a smirk on his face, whispered two words to the kids passing by: “Kick ’em. Kick ’em.”

And the kids complied, sending Truman’s notes, schedules, and texts across the gym floor, as Truman, on his knees, struggled to gather everything up, even as more and more students got in on the fun of sending them farther and farther out of his reach.

Now, that was the funniest thing the crowd had seen.

Who knows how long the hilarity would have gone on if an authority figure had not intervened?

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About the Author

Real Men. True Love.

Rick R. Reed is an award-winning and bestselling author of more than fifty works of published fiction.

He is a Lambda Literary Award finalist. Entertainment Weekly has described his work as “heartrending and sensitive.” Lambda Literary has called him: “A writer that doesn’t disappoint…”

Rick lives in Palm Springs, CA, with his husband, Bruce, and their fierce Chihuahua/Shiba Inu mix, Kodi.

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New Release Blitz: New Boy at the Academy by Sam Hawk

New Boy at the Academy | Sam Hawk

Tales from the Academy #1

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Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: March 25, 2019

Heat Level: 2 – Fade to Black Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 79,800

Purchase:

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Synopsis

Timmy had no clue that the first day of 10th grade at the Academy would rock his world. He thought it would be just like last year, with its endless bullying and recesses spent reshelving books in the library with his best and only friend Carleen. The sissy boy and the fat girl had bonded over their shared outcast status.

But Carleen shows up filled with sassy confidence and declares they’re going to rule the school. By Christmas, the freaks and nerds would be the cool kids, and the mean girls and jocks would be the outcasts. Something had happened to her over the summer, but what?

And then, the two of them lay eyes on the new boy at the Academy. Doug has auburn feathered hair, veiny biceps, and green eyes the color of Sprite bottles. Plus, he’s come all the way from exotic Los Angeles, California. He rocks out to Patti Smith while Timmy loves ABBA. How does someone so cool end up in tiny, conservative Edgewood, South Carolina?

When Carleen immediately declares Doug a fox and her new prospective boyfriend, Timmy is shocked at his jealous reaction. He’s not supposed to like boys in that way, is he? Doug stirs up weird new emotions deep inside him as Timmy embarks on the adventure of his life. He and his hometown will never be the same.

Excerpt

New Boy at the Academy
Sam Hawk © 2019
All Rights Reserved

Edgewood, South Carolina

1980

God didn’t answer my prayers and bring the Rapture on Labor Day, so I had to start tenth grade after all. I stepped in front of the mirror to assess my new back-to-school outfit. I hated it. I’d begged Momma to buy me the alligator shirt from Belk’s, which really cost her a lot, but did it have to hug my body so much? I tried stretching it out, but it would only stretch so far. I thought I’d look like Tom Selleck with his big veiny arms. Instead, I looked like the Pillsbury Doughboy. I was trying to flex my chest when Momma walked in.

“Honey, get a move on. We have to be out the door in fifteen minutes, and you haven’t even touched your Pop-Tarts.”

“Momma, I think I need to change clothes.”

“What are you talking about?” she asked as she pulled and tugged on my shirt. “This is what you wanted. You look very handsome.”

“But it fits so close.”

“Timmy, I have told you time and again you’re not fat. It’s all in your head. You are absolutely average on the height and weight scale and exactly where you need to be at fifteen.” She patted my tummy, causing me to suck in. “You’ll lose that little bit of pudge in no time in gym class.”

My heart sank at the thought of gym class, and I almost lost my appetite for Pop-Tarts. Almost. Momma smoothed down my cowlick at the kitchen table as I bit into the brown sugar cinnamon pastry.

“Thank goodness you inherited the Ashburn hair,” she said. “Such a beautiful chestnut brown and such a noble hairline. It’s a sign of your aristocratic heritage, you know, on my side of the family. All the Ashburn men had beautiful hairlines. Thank goodness you take after me and don’t have your daddy’s stringy mess.”

I guessed my hairline was okay, but my new haircut was way too short. Daddy had taken me to get it cut only after Momma called him ten times to remind him. He and Momma got divorced when I was two, and it was always weird when he came by, which wasn’t often. Naturally, he took me to the awful old barbershop next to the pool hall instead of the new unisex salon in the Augusta Mall I was secretly hoping for. He told the barber to “buzz it” and then went next door for a beer. I managed to talk the barber into keeping a little length, but not much.

“Now go brush your teeth quick as a bunny rabbit,” said Momma. “Carleen’s mother called this morning and said her car’s not running and could I run by and pick her up for school. So, we have no time.”

Carleen’s house was across the tracks, and I knew Momma didn’t like going over there, but Carleen had been my best friend since kindergarten. Actually, you could say she was my only friend. She was the only one I talked to for hours on the phone at night; the only one I hung out with after school; the only one to ever invite me to a sleepover, which Momma had never allowed me to do since boy-girl sleepovers just weren’t done. I hadn’t seen her all summer because she’d been working at her grandparents’ peach farm. I was glad we’d be going to school together on the first day. I needed my friend with me.

We pulled in front of the house, and Carleen came right out.

“Good Lord, Carleen’s put on even more weight this summer,” said Momma.

Momma was right. Carleen had always been the biggest girl in class, and she wasn’t getting any smaller. I recognized her smock top from last year. A smock top was supposed to fit loose, but hers pulled in all the wrong places.

“Hey, Carleen,” said Momma as Carleen got in the car. “You sure do look pretty for your first day of school.”

“Thank you, Mrs. Thompson,” said Carleen. I waited for an eye roll, but she just smiled at Momma like she really believed it. I looked at her more closely, and there was something different about her. Was it confidence? If so, it was new. Was that lip gloss she was wearing?

“Hey, Timmy, did you hear we’re getting a new boy in our class this year?”

“No,” I said, dreading the addition of another redneck bubba to the roster.

“They say he’s from California and he’s real cute.”

“Really? California?” said Momma. “What’s he doing here?”

“I think his momma’s people are here. He’s related to all those Herlongs.”

“Does that explain the lip gloss?”

“Timmy, don’t be rude,” said Momma.

“I just wanted to look pretty for the first day of school,” replied Carleen.

“And you do,” said Momma.

When Momma pulled up in front of Patriot Christian, Carleen looked me square in the eye and gave me a big smile and a thumbs-up.

“Come on, Timmy. We’re gonna rule the school in tenth grade. Let’s do it.”

Meet the Author

Sam Hawk’s fiction is inspired by his experiences at a private Christian Academy in rural South Carolina in the ’70s. He survived his Southern adolescence with his sanity relatively intact and went on to earn degrees from the College of Charleston and the University of South Carolina Law School.

He also served in the US Army as a JAG officer for twelve years. He resigned his commission when it became clear he was expected to persecute homosexuals as part of his job.

Sam then moved to Dallas, Texas where he met the man of his dreams and found his LGBT family. Sam and his husband have been married for over ten years and live with their Corgi and Chartreux cat in the requisite charming old house in a historic district where gay couples are legally compelled to live.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram


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Big Love and Bigger Love are sweet school-based romances

Big LoveBig Love by Rick R. Reed

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book wasn’t what I thought it was going to be but what it actually was is a good narrative, if a little bit muddled in my mind about which story it was telling.

I read it because I have an ARC of book two in the series to review, which is Truman’s story, and I wanted to read the set up.

This is a super sweet but also surprisingly angsty story which is all about owning your truths. I’m not usually a fan of the wife dying so a gay man can live his ‘real life’ but it’s handled well in this one.

I never felt like Dane’s wife had been a lesser person in his life and believed he had loved her for herself and not just because he was hiding and fighting his sexuality.

Seth was a sweetheart too and he knew just how to play his cards right to not only help Truman, but Dane as well.

Relatively low steam but still pretty emotionally engaging.

~

bigger-loveBigger Love by Rick R. Reed

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

This follow up to Big Love gives us Truman’s story solely and at times it’s as heartbreaking as parts of the first book were and at others, truly uplifting.

It’s rare for me to read a young adult romance, I tend to get irritated with the push and pull that usually provides the drama.

But this is Rick R. Reed, so I know better and sure enough, while Mike has his own fears and internal doubts to worry out, it never felt like it was a conscious decision to pull back from Truman.

Truman himself is as fabulously wonderful as he was in the first book and he’s still the focus of all the disquiet and disgust from people who disgrace themselves with their actions.

Patsy is still awesome, a fierce mama who will do anything for her boy, even turn her back on a potential happy for herself because of the way her son is treated, she is what every parent should be.

It was great to see Truman slowly build up a small friendship base as he got involved in a school production of Harvey and other loved how he threw himself 100% into it.

Mike’s grand gesture went a long way to gaining back my affections after he’d almost blown it with Truman and the lovely Epilogue left the future open with so much promise.

I’d love for there to be more, perhaps as Truman and Mike graduate and head off into the next stage of life but I’m also quite happy thinking of them years down the line in some city block apartment just being happy.

#ARC kindly received from the publishers Dreamspinner Press in return for an honest and unbiased review.

Buy your copy here: https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/bigger-love-by-rick-r-reed-9967-b

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