Author: Jamie Fessenden
My Rating: B
Genre: Contemporary Romance (m/m)
Main Characters: Derek and Russ
Release Date: August 2015
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Links to Purchase:
Sexual Intensity: erotic
One night of drunken horsing around in their hotel room leads to the most intensely personal violation Derek has ever endured. As if the humiliation of working under his attacker every day isn’t enough, Victor reports Derek for sexual harassment. Now he’s without a job, without a boyfriend, and the mortgage on the cabin is due.
Officer Russ Thomas has worked with rape victims before, and it doesn’t take him long to sort out the truth in Derek’s tale. With his support, Derek finally reports the crime, months after it happened. But restraining orders and lawyers further Victor’s anger toward him, and even though a relationship develops between Derek and the policeman, Russ can’t be there to protect him all the time.
This is a tough book to review just because there were things I adored about the book, and things I hated about the book.
First, I want to say how much I admire Jamie Fessenden for writing this book. It couldn't have been easy to get this deep into Derek's head with his rape, because it was really devastating for him and she showed that BEAUTIFULLY! I've only read a couple of Jamie's books before this, but both of those were light and fun and airy. While they were entertaining, they were fluffy enough that I really worried going into this book about whether or not she could pull off this level of angst. Wow...she stepped up incredibly!
This book is focused on Derek. He's engaged, not so happily, to Tim. He works at an okay job with his best friend Victor. The book starts out showing him pretty much stuck in his hum-drum life. What I hated about this book was how much of the book was devoted to this life. From reading the book description, I knew what was going to happen, already. I hated Tim and I hated Victor. By spending so much of that time dwelling on his life with the two of them, I lost some respect for Derek because of the choices he's made. It's obvious that neither of these guys are good for him in his life. Let's face it...they are both complete and total jerks. I thought it took away from Derek and the reader's ability to empathize as well for him because of how long they had to read about his life with the two of them...at the same time he's lusting after Russ and really wanting to live his life on the lake. That's the part I hated about the book. It's needed to establish his character and where his life is at...I just think 25% of the book is too long to devote to that part of the story line. Because let's face it, the story didn't really start until the rape.
Now the rape...it's brutal. It's hard to read. And it takes place on the page. That isn't easy, but again I applaud Jamie Fessenden for that, because it wasn't the easy route to take. But I agree that it was needed. She did such an amazing job taking the reader into Derek's head and his shock and devastation. I don't think it would have been as powerful without the actual scene in there. That being said, it's not easy to read so if you have triggers, be aware.
From that point on, the book is brilliant and it felt incredibly realistic even though this is fiction. Derek's healing is an incredibly slow process as it should be. I thought the author did a phenomenal job of showing just how overwrought and traumatized he is...even months and years later. But she didn't do just a good job with Derek. Russ is affected by this too. She showed his impotence and frustration and rage on Derek's behalf incredibly well.
It's a powerful book. Yes, it has it's flaws, but I'm so glad I read it. It dealt with difficult issues both with rape and just some of the assumptions about being a man, sexuality, and being a gay man. Not only is Derek dealing with the trauma of the rape, but he's also dealing with the leftover homophobia that he himself has from his childhood. You don't think about an out, gay man being homophobic, but Derek was and he has to learn how to get past that. I thought it was a wonderful, thought-provoking story.