Raining Men – Rick R. Reed (Dreamspinner Press)

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As the cover states, Raining Men is the sequel to Chaser, Reed’s romance about a guy named Caden, who falls in love with a chunky dude named Kevin, who, in turn, decides to lose weight for his new man. Can a chaser still love a man who no longer has the chub essential to the chase? Along for the ride is Caden’s best friend, Bobby, who betrays Caden by seducing the newly toned Kevin. And Bobby is the focus of the sequel.

Because of that betrayal, Bobby has been abandoned by Caden and Kevin, and his solitude has forced him to see a therapist. Said therapist establishes that perhaps Bobby’s problem is a sex addiction. The death of Bobby’s father causes him to re-examine his own life, coming to the conclusion that his therapist might be on to something. Back in his hometown for the funeral, he meets an old high school acquaintance named Wade, falling in love with him. Is Wade “The One?” Does Bobby abstain? And can he reconcile with his old friend Caden?

Reed answers all these questions and many more. And there’s no doubt Reed has a way with a romance. His characters are all well-developed and his plots clear and concise. He has a good ear for dialogue, but he’s been writing romance for so long that all this seems second nature to him. If that sounds like a criticism, it’s not. It’s the sound of two hands applauding someone for doing what he does with professionalism and passion.

However.

My problem with gay romance has been and always will be its strict adherence to the heteronormative constraints of monogamy, aping a romantic concept that an increasing number of straight relationships are unable to maintain these days. Yes, I know perfectly happy monogamous gay couples. However, I also know perfectly happy triads, perfectly happy open relationships, and perfectly happy slutty single gay men of all ages — most of whom have some sort of romance in their lives. The fact that this literature locks our conception of ourselves into one little box is upsetting because it marginalizes everything that isn’t in that tiny, jewel-encrusted structure.

Reed lays the blame for Bobby’s betrayal on the fact that he’s a sex addict rather than simply being a total asshole, which is what I gleaned from the first book. In fact, there’s an underlying sex negativity in Raining Men that screams louder at me than the romance did. However, if you’re looking for an entertaining romantic novel that does not mess with your expectations, Raining Men is definitely your cuppa. It’s highly readable (I finished it in less than two nights), well-written, expertly plotted, and everything a romance should be.

But.

It takes no chances. My favorite Reed book was Dignity Takes a Holiday. Not a perfect book by any means, but Reed took every ounce of talent he had, shoved it against the corner of the envelope and pushed. Hard. And, for me at least, he created something that made think as I read. I admired that book for what it was more than what it wasn’t. Raining Men is a good, solid read. It has great characters and brings up some interesting issues about morality as well as mortality. But I just wished it taken some chances. 

Because non-monogamists want to read about themselves too.

Copyright 2013, Jerry L. Wheeler

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