Two weeks ago Laura and I got an email from two authors wanting to know if we would review an ARC of their short story. We were torn about what we wanted to do but in the end we decided to give the story a go.
I was all "Agghhhh! I hope I like it!"
Laura was all "Aggghhh! Me too!"
I read the story last night, as did Laura. It clocked in at 17 pages and let me just say right now that it was 17 pages of AWESOME.
Harm Reduction is told from Julio's POV, and starts off with him preventing his foster son from getting into a fight over a game of basketball in Sara D. Roosevelt Park in New York City. The story is told in scenes alternating between the past and the present. It's the story of Julio and a young prostitute he once knew while doing Outreach work in the city in the early nineties.
First let me say how much I respect the fact that Julio was an Outreach worker. He brought clean needles, cookers and cotton to heroin addicts as well as condoms to prostitutes. This is done by Outreach workers to lower the risk that people put themselves at for contracting HIV, AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases. It's a job that not alot of people understand, that some people don't agree with even, but it's a job that is SO important.
Violetta Vane and Heidi Belleau did something very different and unique with Julio's character and they did it well.
Another thing that was very strong in this little story was its sense of place. I grew up in public housing in The Bronx and the NYC in this story is the NYC that I know. In 17 pages we get the rougher, tougher NYC that's not so safe at night. It's the NY where you might spend your lunch hour on a park bench but there's a good chance that a homeless drug addict is at the other end of that bench. I loved that these two authors featured a side of the city that not alot of romance authors write about.
The romance in Harm Reduction made me smile because it showed that even in a hard place there can be love. The characters in this story are characters that I would love to read a full-length novel about.
So, I strongly recommend this story and it's out today at Storm Moon Press, ARe and Smashwords. An amazing little tale that will make you smile on this Valentine's Day.