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Caregiver [Kindle Edition]

Rick R. Reed
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Winner of the 2013 EPIC eBook Award for Best Contemporary Romance
It's 1991, and Dan Calzolaio has just moved to Florida with his lover, Mark, having fled Chicago and Mark's addictions to begin a new life on the Gulf Coast. Volunteering for the Tampa AIDS Alliance is just one part of that new beginning, and that's how Dan meets his new buddy, Adam.

Adam Schmidt is not at all what Dan expected. The guy is an original--witty, wry, and sarcastic with a fondness for a smart black dress, Barbra Streisand, and a good mai tai. Adam doesn't let his imminent death get him down, even through a downward spiral that sees him thrown in jail.

Each step of Adam's journey teaches Dan new lessons about strength and resilience, but it's Adam's lover, Sullivan, to whom Dan feels an almost irresistible pull. Dan knows the attraction isn't right, even after he dumps his cheating, drug-abusing boyfriend. But then Adam passes away, and it leaves Sullivan and Dan both alone to see if they can turn their love for Adam into something whole and real for each other.

Editorial Reviews


This is not a heart-wrenching tear-jerker even though one of the main themes is AIDS in a time when people with the disease were dying from, rather than living with, the virus. Instead, this an uplifting tale of overcoming adversity, seeing the beauty in life, and celebrating how people remain in our lives even after they have physically left us. --Dark Diva Reviews

From the Author

Picture it: Tampa Bay, Florida, 1991. A young man flees a troubled life in Chicago to begin anew on the Gulf Coast of Florida. White sand beaches and azure waters beckon. Shortly after landing in Tampa Bay, the young man, in a gesture of solidarity with his gay brethren who are dying by the thousands, volunteers to become an AIDS buddy, focusing his attention on one victim of the virus...

Actually, if you've read the blurb of my new novel, CAREGIVER, you might think that the above is an alternate synopsis I wrote for the book. But the truth is it's about me. Like my main character in CAREGIVER, Dan, I too fled Chicago for a new life in Tampa, FL and I too joined a program that supplied AIDS buddies to those suffering from the virus. In 1991, the afflicted had a very bleak outlook. But sometimes, we meet a person who can overcome that bleakness with biting wit, humor, grace, and style. My buddy was just such a man--he left a mark on me that has stayed with me until this very day and will always be one of the most special people I have ever met.

My book is called CAREGIVER, but by the end, the reader will wonder who really is the caregiver.

It's taken me twenty years to write about Jim, my AIDS buddy from 1991 (who becomes "Adam" in the novel), my funny valentine who ended up dying in the Florida State Prison--but I think the results are ultimately worth it.

Product Details

  • File Size: 629 KB
  • Print Length: 210 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: Dreamspinner Press (October 23, 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005YVAJG0
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #231,099 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dark but top notch read October 25, 2011
Format:Kindle Edition
This a strong book. It is dark, the darkest I've ever read from this author. Reed has written about AIDS before, but somewhat more offhandedly - stories about people who happen to have AIDS, but mostly - at least not in the ones I've read - not actually about AIDS itself.

Caregiver is about AIDS, no use beating about the bush, and about people who have it. Well, about one particular person, anyway, although all of the characters in this book are infected, in one sense or another, by the virus - by the idea of the virus, by the fear of getting it, or the travails of coping with it. Adam happens to be the only one with lesions on his skin. For the others, the spots are less visible but no less toxic.

Adam is a free spirit, and decidedly bigger than life. When the narrator, Dan, first comes to meet him -an assignment from Tampa AIDS Alliance Buddy program- he is surprised by the person who greets him at the door, wearing the classic little black dress and a string of pearls. Despite his terminal illness, Adam displays a winning insouciance that both astonishes and delights Dan (and the reader as well), and they quickly graduate from caregiver and client to friends.

Both Adam and Dan have recently moved to Florida from Chicago with their partners (all of them with ulterior motives, as it turns out), and both the relationships are troubled. Adam and his partner, Sullivan, clearly love one another, but Adam's condition frightens Sullivan and their sex life has become nearly non-existent. It is apparent at their first meeting that Dan and Sullivan find one another attractive.

Dan's relationship, too, is an unhappy one. His partner, Mark, is on a downward spiral of drink, drugs and partying--and, just maybe, Dan worries, HIV infection.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Triumphant Story of Love, Loss, and Remembrance October 27, 2011
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I finished CAREGIVER last night, the latest release by one of my favorite authors, Rick R. Reed. CAREGIVER is Mr. Reed's semi-autobiographical account of his own, personal experience as an "AIDS buddy" (volunteer companion), and how this experience changed his life forever. The story depicts not only the protagonist's experiences as he is getting to know and ultimately care about a very courageous and unique individual who happens to have AIDS, but it also chronicles this man's experiences with the other individuals that he encounters along the road on this journey. I don't want to give away plot details because I don't want to spoil anything for other readers, but this story touches on a number of emotionally-charged themes--loss, betrayal, regret, fear, guilt, change, healing, and forgiveness--but ultimately, CAREGIVER is nothing short of a love story. It is a love story on multiple levels, bittersweet yes, but ultimately triumphant.

I approached this book reluctantly, not because I didn't think it would be well-written (well-written is a hallmark of all of Rick Reed's work), but because I knew reading it would be a bit of a personal risk. Why? Because when the AIDS epidemic first hit the media in the mid-1980s, I was in my early 20s. Like everyone else at the time, I was scared. Because I didn't know what else to do, I started volunteering as a buddy for a local AIDS organization in the Midwest. I continued buddying through the mid-1990s. Over nearly a decade, my buddy-client relationships were varied, ranging from warm and loving to bitter, hostile, and one even a little threatening. Like Mr. Reed's protagonist, along this road I met a number of remarkable people who changed my life forever--for the better, I like to think, looking back on it all now.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A unique love story. August 16, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition
What can I say? I'm an avid reader who devours massive amounts of books each year, and I've been fortunate enough to have found many to love and cherish. Then I read Caregiver, or rather, I didn't so much read it as experience it, for it touched me in a way that's beyond mere words on a page.

This is a unique love story, for it tells of different kinds of love, and how they shape the protagonist, Dan's life. There is the love for a dying man, Adam, who helps Dan possibly more than Dan helps him. There's Mark, a man who brought pain and joy to Dan's life, and ultimately Dan had to open his hand and let Mark fall, lest both of them go down together. There's Sullivan, steadfast, faithful, and hurting. There's an expression used in this book that really struck a chord with me: "people come into our lives for a reason, for a season, or for a lifetime.." That expression is proven true in Adam, Mark, and Sullivan. All were necessary parts of Dan's life and had an important role to play.

I remember the late 80's, early 90's, when a horridendous disease struck without warning, laying waste to so many lives. We were horrified. Couldn't modern medicine do anything? Thankfully, we've made medical advances since those dark times, but so many bright young lives were lost. Caregiver is a poignant tribute to those hard times and those who died so tragically. I cried the hardest when I read Dan's final letter to Adam, telling him that if he could have held on a few more years, that treatments could have given him a better, longer life. If only we'd had such things back then.

That said, though this book deals with heavy topics like AIDS and drug abuse, it isn't dark.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Timeless
Beautiful characters, horrible, shameful period in the history of our species that people should suffer and be hurt thus. Lovely, loving book.
Published 14 days ago by Kindle Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Caregiver
It touched my heart. I loved the cooking. I was so anxious because Dan couldn't see how Mark was manipulating him. My heart is full to bursting with love this book generated.
Published 1 month ago by Jean Partlow
5.0 out of 5 stars Six stars
Sometimes difficult to read, at other times uplifting. I was a caregiver for men living with AIDS in the 1980's during the early years of the epidemic when there were few... Read more
Published 4 months ago by JEFFERY WEBER
4.0 out of 5 stars Definitely in a Class of its Own
Written in the early days of the AIDS crisis, this story brought back some painful memories. Hopefully most readers will find a well written romance and not share the painful... Read more
Published 6 months ago by Xanlthorpe
5.0 out of 5 stars An Excellent and Importan Novel
Caregiver is my first Rick R. Reed book. All I can say is wow! This is such an important read. There is so much heart in this book. Read more
Published 12 months ago by mitch
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful, sad, inspiring
This book is definitely worth reading. It is a well crafted story of what happens after Dan meets Adam. In the story we also meet Mark and Sullivan. Read more
Published 18 months ago by Nic
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Read
Another great Rick R. Reed read and certainly one for which the tissues should be kept handy - for sad tears and for joyful ones as well. Read more
Published 21 months ago by FireBird28
5.0 out of 5 stars 5 Hearts:A truly brilliant work! I felt emotionally connected to every...
Rick R. Reed - Caregiver {Reviewed by Sean @ Hearts On Fire Reviews}

I think I need a moment to yell at myself for waiting too long to read Caregiver. Read more
Published on September 15, 2012 by Chad Bowles
5.0 out of 5 stars More Please
I loved this book. This was the fist book I have read by Reed, but it will not be the last. You can't help but fall in love with the people in the story. Read more
Published on June 30, 2012 by penguin
5.0 out of 5 stars It's a deep, dark, semi autobiographical look into the life of a gay...
Have you ever read a book that put your life on hold, one that wrapped you so totally in the story and the characters that you felt a part of it, one that you knew your life would... Read more
Published on June 8, 2012 by My 2 Cents
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More About the Author

Rick R. Reed is all about exploring the romantic entanglements of gay men in contemporary, realistic settings. While his stories often contain elements of suspense, mystery and the paranormal, his focus ultimately returns to the power of love. He is the author of dozens of published novels, novellas, and short stories. He is a three-time EPIC eBook Award winner (for Caregiver, Orientation and The Blue Moon Cafe). Lambda Literary Review has called him, "a writer that doesn't disappoint." Rick lives in Seattle with his husband and a very spoiled Boston terrier. He is forever "at work on another novel."

Visit Rick's website at or follow his blog at You can also like Rick on Facebook at or on Twitter at Rick always enjoys hearing from readers and answers all e-mails personally. Send him a message at

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