"a wonderful story on every level!"
Robert Harris is forty-something and has seen enough pain
and suffering to last him a lifetime, the least of which is
witnessing the death of his older lover to AIDS some twenty-
four years previously and at the height of the epidemic.
Robert never got over losing Keith, his first love and
every young man he has taken as a lover since has been a
poor substitute to ward off the grief and loneliness.
Robert is also wealthy, compliments of a substantial
inheritance from Keith, and along with this and his own
na´ve, forgiving nature, makes him a target of the greedy
Enter Jess, a despondent young woman Robert encounters one
cold Christmas night when he leaves his house for some air
after his young lover-of-the-moment, Ethan, abandons him
under the guise of visiting some family. Jess was recently
dumped by her lover, Ramona, an older black woman who took
most of her belongings after the split, leaving Jess with a
near empty shell of an apartment that she can't afford to
make monthly payments on. She left her house earlier in the
evening with every intention of killing herself and it is
on the rocky, frigid shores of Lake Michigan where Robert
finds her and talks her out of ending it all.
From the beginning the two have a connection, just don't
realize why that connection exists or why it is so strong.
Only after Jess has dreams of a much younger Robert and
Keith and visions of Keith in her own reflection do the
pair begin to put two and two together and realize that
Jess just may be the reincarnation of Robert's long-dead
As the pair grow closer and closer, tentatively exploring
the feelings between them and pondering the possibilities
of a relationship between a gay forty-something and a
lesbian twenty-something, a desperate and meth-addicted
Ethan makes plans for his future in rehab if only Robert
will foot the bill.
Orientation has all of the elements of a great, suspenseful
romance: sympathetic and true-to-life characters, chemistry
between the leads, and just enough intrigue to keep the
reader on the edge of her seat. Reed does an excellent job
of drawing the reader into all of his main characters'
lives and, as in previous works, has an knack for eliciting
compassion for and showing us the good in even his
villainous characters. This reader particularly enjoyed
Reed's trademark ability to imbue a palpable sense of place
and time into the narrative, skillfully injecting
verisimilitude through his descriptions of Chicago for a
winning combination of escapism and realism.
I recommend this story for anyone who believes, or wants to
believe in the power of love and redemption. This was a
wonderful story on every level!
Reviewed by: Gracie C. McKeever, author
Reviewed by Gracie McKeever
Posted July 13, 2008