Author: Jamie Fessenden
Publisher: DreamSpinner Press
Genre: M/M Contemporary
Narrator: K.C. Kelley
Derek Sawyer thinks he has it all—a high-salaried position, a boyfriend, a dog, even a new cabin on the lake—until a business trip with his manager and best friend, Victor, shatters his world.
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 was really good, but you definitely need to know what you’re getting yourself into. There is a romance here between Derek and Russ, but don’t expect any sex until the epilogue. And actually, for the first quarter of the book Derek is engaged to Tim. Fear not though, there is only one on page sex scene between the fiancés and it isn’t very detailed. But we all read the blurb, so I found myself just wanting the rape to happen already so we could get it over with! Which is terrible, but true.
But I did end up being glad that the story was slow to begin. I think it was important for us to know Derek prior to the assault, since there’s always a Before and an After when someone has such a traumatic event occur. We knew him, we knew his relationship with Tim, we knew his friendship with Victor. And Russ knew these things too. I was glad that he and Derek had met and developed a new yet tentative friendship prior to the attack.
Each chapter has a duel POV with Derek and Russ. This has positives and negatives. It created a rhythm that I could predict, which was a good thing. Especially since the audio version didn’t really pause when switching scenes. Within a sentence or two it was always obvious who’s POV it was, but this helped to know that since I just found out what was going on with Derek, next I would see what Russ was up to. And it made sure we felt as though the story was about Derek and Russ, so that the story was about them coming together and overcoming obstacles as opposed to just about Derek’s rape. However, once the rape occurred, I didn’t really give a shit about Russ talking to his partner or going to a gay men’s group in Manchester or having hook ups. I just wanted to know what was going on with Derek! So it was frustrating early on after the rape, but once they entered a relationship I did like it so we could see where they were both coming from.
Mr. Fessenden portrayed the struggles that Derek had very well. It was heart wrenching to watch him go through that, especially to see how isolated he felt and how much he blamed himself. Russ was an amazing addition and I loved watching their friendship grow into more, even though the physical intimacy didn’t develop until after the story had ended.
It did end a bit abruptly though. I mean, it ended once all the drama resolved. But like, immediately after all the drama resolved. Which is appropriate, but also feels like someone slamming on the brakes after you’ve been on a slow and steady three day long road trip. Instead of a recap of how the court case went and Derek’s work situation and their relationship developing without Victor hanging over their heads, I would have rather read it. That’s kinda all the good stuff. Yes, the story was long as it, but what’s a couple more chapter amongst friends?
Lastly, the audio version. I’ve listened to this narrator before and I do like him, KC Kelly narrated two of my all time favorite audiobooks, Rattlesnake and Brute by Kim Fielding. He has an evenness about his voice that is quite soothing, very easy to listen to. There wasn’t much to distinguish between the two MC’s voices but I didn’t find myself mixing them up. It can be challenging to listen to a difficult subject like rape in audio format, but Mr. Kelly performed it perfectly with the correct emotions, but without over acting or dramatizing.
This was a solid book by Mr. Fessenden about a very difficult subject. So it may not be for everyone, but is a lovely story nonetheless. I really only cried twice, so given the topic I think he handled it well without needlessly pulling on heart strings. Reading it or listening to it would be equally enjoyable in my opinion, it just depends on your preference.