Author ~ Rick R. Reed
Publisher ~ Dreamspinner Press
Published ~ 7 December 2015
Genre ~ M/M Mystery/Romantic Suspense
With the couple next door, nothing is as it seems.
Jeremy Booth leads a simple life, scraping by in the gay neighborhood of Seattle, never letting his lack of material things get him down. But the one thing he really wants—someone to love—seems elusive. Until the couple next door moves in and Jeremy sees the man of his dreams, Shane McCallister, pushed down the stairs by a brute named Cole.
Jeremy would never go after another man’s boyfriend, so he reaches out to Shane in friendship while suppressing his feelings of attraction. But the feeling of something being off only begins with Cole being a hard-fisted bully—it ends with him seeming to be different people at different times. Some days, Cole is the mild-mannered John and then, one night in a bar, he’s the sassy and vivacious drag queen Vera.
So how can Jeremy rescue the man of his dreams from a situation that seems to get crazier and more dangerous by the day? By getting close to the couple next door, Jeremy not only puts a potential love in jeopardy, but eventually his very life.
Be assured this is a spoiler-free review since it would be a disservice to give anything away about this book that kept me on edge until the final pages. With every secret and every twist I still had to wonder whether the truth was being revealed or whether there was still more to come. Sinister, creepy and intense, with a love story that only ratchets up the tension, The Couple Next Door is a wild and strange ride.
Returning from yet another disappointing date on his quest for Mr. Right, Jeremy gets a startling introduction to the new couple next door as he walks into the building lobby and into the middle of a fight. Before he knows it Jeremy is watching the larger man push the smaller man down the stairs before retreating into their apartment. Having grown up in a house where his father abused his mother, Jeremy knows what is going on, knows better than to get involved, but cannot fight his need to nurture and is soon ushering Shane McCallister to the ER and allowing him to spend the night in his apartment. Things get much stranger when the next afternoon Jeremy runs into the larger man, John aka Cole, in the lobby and John acts as if nothing happened, they never crossed paths and as if he is a kinder, gentler, completely different person than the one Jeremy saw the night before.
Despite Jeremy’s attempts to avoid the couple, and his better judgment, he finds himself incredibly attracted to Shane and unable to resist Shane’s further requests for help after the next beating. Drawn into his neighbors’ increasingly bizarre and violent relationship, and becoming friendlier and closer with Shane, Jeremy is soon beginning to wonder whether he is part of an elaborate prank, or things are actually as strange as they appear. He knows the closer he gets to Shane, the harder it will be to leave, but as Shane begins to tell Jeremy his secrets Jeremy wonders if he will be left with any choice but to run far and fast. While he can acknowledge his “too stupid to live moments” and see the parallels to the abusive relationship his parents had, he knows he’s a goner for Shane and rational decisions are no match for his inability to leave the man he has come to love.
I really had trouble putting this book down. Every time I thought I had things figured out or could guess what was going to happen, something else unexpected and often horrifying was added into the mix. There is more than meets the eye going on and up to the final moments I was left wondering if even all the players knew what the truth was anymore. Rick R. Reed did a great job of moving the story forward and dropping hints, clues and bits of information without stringing the reader along unnecessarily. Instead you are living out the story as Jeremy is, not knowing what’s coming, but knowing it probably won’t be good. Although there were a couple of very minor things I was left wondering about, I can absolutely recommend this story to those looking for a romance with lots of suspense, twists and thrills.