Unraveling by Rick R. Reed

Randy Kay has the perfect life with his beautiful wife and adorable son. But Randy’s living a lie, untrue to himself and everyone who knows him. He’s gay.
Marriage and fatherhood, which he thought could change him, have failed. He doubts if anyone can love him for who he really is—especially himself.
With his wife’s blessing, he sets out to explore the gay world he’s hidden from all his life.
John Walsh, a paramedic with the Chicago Fire Department, is comfortable in his own skin as a gay man, yet he can never find someone who shares his desire to create a real relationship, a true family.
When Randy and John first spy each other in Chicago’s Boystown, all kinds of alarms go off—some of joy, others of deep-seated fear.
Randy and John must surmount multiple hurdles on the journey to a lasting, meaningful love. Will they succeed or will their chance at love go up in flames, destroyed by missed connections and a lack of self-acceptance?

I know that I tagged this book as a M/M Romance, but that’s the least of what it is. I’m not saying that there isn’t any romance, because there is, but Randy and John don’t even “officially” meet until the book is around the half-way point. Even then, it takes them a little while to get there. What Unraveling really is about is Randy and everyone around him coming to terms with the fact that he’s gay.

The opening chapter in Unraveling is the first turning point in Randy’s new life. His wife, Violet, made a decision that I admired her for. She made other decisions later that were less endearing, but this story wasn’t just about Randy’s life. It was also about the fall out. It was at times heart breaking and at times uplifting – mostly because the characters were “real”.

Although Randy was at the center of the story, John and several of the supporting characters helped drive it. There were those that I adored and more than a couple that I was less than impressed with. And at least one that I went back and forth with.

It’s probably worth mentioning that Unraveling is set in the mid 80s, a time when AIDS and HIV was even scarier than it is now. The time frame added to the tension, but the same stigma and prejudice exists today, which is more than a little depressing. It may not have been an easy story to read, but it’s one that I’m glad that I did.