Book Reviews

M4M by Rick R. Reed at NineStar Press

Genre Gay / Contemporary / Romance
Reviewed by Serena Yates on 31-August-2020

Book Blurb

Three great stories. One great love.

VGL Male Seeks Same

Poor Ethan Schwartz. It seems like he will never find that special someone. At age forty-two, he’s still alone, his bed still empty, and his 42-inch HDTV overworked. He’s tried the bars and other places where gay men are supposed to find one another, but for Ethan, it never works out. He wonders if it ever will. Should he get a cat?


But all of that is about to change…



Poor Ethan Schwartz. He’s just had the most shocking news a gay man can get—he’s been diagnosed HIV positive. Up until today, he thought his life was on a perfect course. He had a job he loved and something else he thought he’d never have: Brian, a new man, one whom Ethan thought of as “the one.” The one who would complete him, who would take his life from a lonely existence to a place filled with laughter, hot sex, and romance.


But along with the fateful diagnosis comes another shock—is Brian who he thinks he is?


Status Updates

Ethan finds himself alone once more and wonders if life is worth living, even one with a cat. Via a Facebook friend request, an old nemesis appears, wanting to be friends. Ethan is suspicious but intrigued because it seems this old acquaintance has turned his life around…and the changes just might hold the key to Ethan getting a new lease on life…and love.



First edition published with only VGL Male Seeks Same and NEG UB2 by Amber Quill Press/Amber Allure, 2009. 

Second edition published by Dreamspinner Press, July 2017.


Book Review

Dating and finding the right partner can be tough, and whoever thinks it’s easier in the computer age - what with all the blogs, dating sites, and chat rooms now available - is wrong. The basic problem is still human nature, all the individual idiosyncrasies and quirks we have, and if you’re an “older” gay male (i.e. above forty), the task becomes almost impossible. The three novellas in this collection accurately, sometimes humorously, describe Ethan’s path to happiness, and I loved every single one of them They are all true to life, made me feel every obstacle right alongside Ethan, and gave me an in-depth look at the ups and downs, the disappointments and hope of a man who desperately wants to find a guy to settle down with.

VGL Male Seeks Same
Ethan is a publicist in Chicago, and while he goes out to see a lot of the plays he provides publicity for, he has never managed to find a partner to share his life with. The gay bars he used to frequent haven’t proven to be a better source of a life partner either. Ethan figures it would be cruel to submit a cat or a dog to his many hours of absence, and anyway, they are not what he is looking for. Ethan’s loneliness tore at my heartstrings, so when he heard about a new dating site and decide to go for it, I was all for it.

As many people do, Ethan is tempted into “sprucing up” his profile about a day after he has no reaction to his “true self”. What follows is a barrage of e-mails, most with dubious content and messages, an entirely unexpected connection, an exchange of e-mails, and a whole range of issues around the fact that the profile Ethan recreated for himself carries someone else’s picture. Welcome to cyberspace!

The ending of this first installment is somewhat hopeful… so I went straight on to the next novella.

Six months later, Ethan and Brian are together but things are anything but perfect. This part of the story starts with a shock – Ethan is told he is HIV positive. The shock, the awful almost-certainty that it had to have been Brian who infected him, the accusations, and the pain this causes between them was so real, it made me want to cry. Ethan’s immediate reaction of shutting Brian out of his life is as understandable as it is destructive, but not talking about it with the one man Ethan has a connection with - as recent as it is and as guilty as Ethan believes Brian to be - is not exactly helpful.

True to the continuing thread of cyberspace in these stories, Ethan goes on to unburden himself on a blog he sets up. While I can’t see myself ever doing that, it was clear where he was coming from, and the process that follows was very interesting. Of course Ethan also has a lot to learn about the reality of being HIV positive in today’s world rather than thirty years earlier, and while his status change is not a nice one, it is not as catastrophic of a “sentence” as he first thought.

What happens at the end is touching, and while not entirely out of the ordinary, it shows how much Ethan has grown through the experience of dealing with his new situation.

Eight years after the end of the previous story, Ethan is alone again. Brian died in a car accident – while texting with Ethan. A stark reminder of the dangers of technology in a very physical sense, it causes deep pain in Ethan. The unfairness of it all made him depressed and me very angry. And then there is the odd Facebook friend request – see how everything in this collection is geared to the world of cyberspace and social media?

Ethan is now just over fifty and definitely not looking for love. He hasn’t even considered it, but the FB request from a guy he knows from years ago will not leave Ethan alone - so he acts. I can’t say much more without revealing too much, but let me say, the ending of this “status update” was as perfect as Ethan’s situation allows and made me very happy. It is all about hope and brings Ethan’s story to a place of contentment that is very fitting.


If you like stories set very much in today’s world, if you’re curious about the effect cyberspace and all the various types of social media can have on someone’s life, and if you’re looking for a read that is emotional, realistic, and carefully hopeful, then you will probably like this collection as much as I do. It’s a fantastic look at today’s dating world and a touching story about one man’s road to happiness – bumps and all.





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Additional Information

Format ebook
Length Collection/3 novellas, 63500 words
Heat Level
Publication Date 31-August-2020
Price $5.99 ebook
Buy Link