Book Reviews

Big Love by Rick R. Reed at NineStar Press

Genre Gay / Contemporary / Students/Teachers/Professors / Romance / Drama
Reviewed by Serena Yates on 18-May-2020

Book 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.

First edition published by Dreamspinner Press, April 2016.

Book Review

‘Big Love’ is a touching novel about self-acceptance, coming out, and love. Not just any sort of garden-variety love – the kind of “big love” that means something. There is romantic love between the two main characters, out Seth and closeted Dane. Then there is Truman, a fourteen-year-old student who struggles with being bullied for who he is, and who has to learn to love himself. And finally there is parental love between Dane and his children, and between Truman’s mother and Truman. With a fantastic cast of characters and an almost idyllic setting in Summitville, a fictional small town in Ohio, this could have simply been a very sweet story. And it was. But it also turned out to be a lot more, as life and circumstances severely tested each character. None of them were the same by the end of the book, and I appreciated and admired each of their journeys.

Dane has a lot to deal with in this story. He starts out happily married, with two teenage kids, a job as an English teacher he enjoys, and if he has to keep part of himself hidden, even from himself, surely that is a small price to pay. But then disaster strikes, his wife is killed by a drunk driver, and suddenly everything changes. Dane faces life without the woman he has truly loved since their freshman year in high school, and suddenly he has to ask himself what’s next. Is this the point where he starts being honest with himself, and maybe even the world, about the fact that he is gay? Is it time to stop “fitting in” to make things easy? Does he want to explore his attraction to men? His struggle to answer these questions is tough and he is tempted to slink right back into his closet more than once.

Seth is an English and drama teacher, and he moves to Summitville to get away from a breakup caused by his cheating ex. He wants to be alone for a while, recover from the pain, and enjoy his bachelor existence. But on the very first day in his new school he runs into Dane – and is immediately attracted. Assuming Dane is straight means nothing happens for a while, but then circumstances reveal that Dane is gay as well, and all of Seth’s good intentions go right out of the window.

There is a third main character in this book, and for large parts of it, as far as I am concerned, Truman steals the show. He is gay and not trying to hide it, painfully shy, and bullied every single day. His mother supports him any way she can, but Truman has to face reality on his own. He almost doesn’t make it. But once Seth and Dane stop him from ending an existence that Truman thinks is no longer bearable, he begins to listen to what Seth tells him about accepting himself, owning who he is, and not giving the bullies the satisfaction of shrinking away. And boy, does Truman take this advice to heart.

It was fascinating to see Dane’s reaction to Seth’s advice. While he is supposedly helping Truman just as much as Seth is, much of what he learns is new to him as well. He has never lived as an openly gay man, and in many ways he is as afraid as Truman. While the changes he makes are less obvious at first, the effect is the same in the end. Simply Beautiful!

If you like complicated characters who struggle with who they are, if you want to find out more about what it’s like to come out and to deal with the repercussions, and if you’re looking for a read that is realistic, covers serious issues, and is very moving, then you will probably like this novel as much as I did. Its powerful message of the importance of love, hope, and honesty touched me deeply, and I recommend this book to anyone who appreciates complex and intense stories.





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Additional Information

Format ebook
Length Novel, 64100 words
Heat Level
Publication Date 18-May-2020
Price $5.99 ebook
Buy Link