Monday, April 27, 2009

Through the Closet Door by Rick R. Reed

TITLE: Through the Closet Door
AUTHOR: Rick R. Reed
PUBLISHER: Amber Allure
LENGTH: Short story (roughly 11k)
GENRE: Gay contemporary erotic romance
COST: $4.00

Gregory is caught – between the real life he has with a perfectly wonderful woman and the secret life he details in his private journal. He knows what the world expects from him, how wrong they see his hidden desires, but it’s getting harder and harder to lie to everyone on a daily basis, especially himself…

I’m reluctant to label this a romance at all, though the publisher does so and there’s likely a HFN on the horizon after the conclusion of this short story. This is the tale of a young man on the brink of identifying his homosexuality, caught in all too familiar circumstances. Yes, there is a male figure in the background that provides a focus for Gregory, but Jake, albeit appealing, is more a placeholder for what Gregory is lacking than any real romantic force. Their so-called connection is overshadowed, intensely so, by Gregory’s inner turmoil. But that doesn’t detract from this short gem. It just momentarily diverts attention.

The story goes between Gregory’s journals, detailed with his most private fantasies, and his present day life. The author’s choice to use present tense lends an immediacy to the emotions. There is never any question the reader is experiencing the intense moments as Gregory is, every second of guilt, every minute of confusion. His emotions are so on the edge, they actually feel a tad over the top at times (he has a tendency to cry a lot). But he does everything he thinks he can, walking such a narrow line that he runs when faced with an obstacle he can’t immediately deal with. When his wife pushes about a baby, he flees. When he pushes the boundaries of his relationship with Jake, he flees. The physical acts of running away mirror his internal conflicts all the way through the story, until he finally reaches the decision he knows he must. Only then does he stop trying to escape.

The author’s phrasing is evocative and fresh, even when I got occasionally frustrated by Gregory’s crying. It sets this short story even further apart from others in the genre, and stands the author amongst a select few who successfully break free from the normal constraints. Reed is an author to trust. Don’t be afraid to try him.


9/10 – Evocative phrasing and present tense makes this heartrending

Hero #1

8/10 – Bordering on breaking, his angst is palpable

Hero #2

5/10 – Felt like a placeholder, likable but more of a representation of what Gregory is missing than a real personality

Entertainment value

8/10 – Poignant and real

World building

8/10 – Though the greater world isn’t fully explored, the microcosm of Gregory’s immediate life is vivid



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