Today I’m reviewing Violated by Jamie Fessenden, published by Dreamspinner Press. There’s a lot to be said for the book. I’ll just dive in. The story was well crafted. I enjoyed reading it, even when it was painful, so there’s definitely something to be said for that. Trigger warnings for this book include, but are not limited to: Rape, violence, relationship/domestic abuse—mental, life downright being shitty, discussions of childhood abuse—both mental and physical, discussions of childhood violence, shitty parents, and a man who owns a monster truck.
I know some of you prefer to avoid anything spoilery (and my reviews always tend to have a bit of that going on because I like to discuss the pros and cons of what I’ve read), so I’ll just say this here and you can peace out if you want: Violated is not a light read. It isn’t a magical “everything gets better because of the other main character’s fantastic penis” story, which is a huge plus to me for its realism. I suggest buying it if you’re in the mood for something dark and angsty, but if you’re freshly out of a sexual trauma or have any in your past, read with caution.
Let’s take a look at the blurb.
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.
Take a look at the sample here.
This book deals with rape, but there are fun spots too. There’s levity at the “clothing optional” bed and breakfast with Russ. I also found Russ and Derek’s mutual enjoyment of their furry companions delightful.
The care with which Russ approaches Derek after he finally finds out what’s wrong is so sweet it almost gave me a toothache, but spot on after all the shit Derek’s gone through.
Also, the writing is easy to read and excellent.
This book talks about rape. Rape is not a light or fun subject, so one thing I can’t stand when I’m reading about it is when there’s no resounding effect on the character. I’m not saying every person falls apart, but it creates waves in a person’s psyche. Over the course of my lifetime I’ve talked to people (mostly women, though a few men) who are rape survivors and the responses have ranged from “I tried to kill myself” all the way to “I pretty much just moved on with my life” on the other end of the spectrum. It’s a very personal thing and circumstances play a huge roll in it, along with personal temperament.
I’m always glad to see books that talk about rape in a realistic way because it’s something that happens. Ignoring it entirely in fiction makes it seem like it doesn’t. That’s not good. Ignoring rape is an invalidation of the real, resounding issues survivors have.
One thing I truly give applause to this book for is hammering home the fact that men are victims too. One study I read from the UK estimate that there are equal amounts of male and female rape victims, though men rarely report it to the police.
Which allows predators to continue victimizing people.
Derek’s responses to his rape are spot. It definitely read as realistic to me. This is one of those situations where everyone reacts a little differently. I can definitely tell that that author put in his time researching this book.
Oddly enough, I didn’t find the rape to be the most disturbing part of this book. Not by a long shot. I found Derek’s original relationship with his fiancé Tim to be the most disturbing aspect. I think it bothered me more because while everyone would agree a rape is traumatic, I’m not sure everyone would notice Derek’s relationship with Tim for the abuse it is. Tim isolates Derek, controls him with his emotions, makes Derek feel trapped and edgy all the time…makes Derek feel guilty and unhappy ALL THE TIME when he’s not doing anything wrong in the relationship. Tim punishes and manipulates Derek any time he steps outside the lines.
And Derek loves him.
The relationship with Tim causes as much damage to Derek, in my estimation, as the rape did, and then made the aftermath of the rape so much worse. Russ had to navigate two mine fields in getting together with Derek: The years Derek put in with Tim, and the rape.
The relationship with Tim was almost too realistic. I would say that relationship nearly made me drop the book rather than the feelings reading about a rape stirred up. Mentally abusive relationships are exhausting, harmful to the self-esteem, and confuse your outlook on the rest of the world.
Oh, yeah, and Derek still has to go to work.
I liked the fact that it actually took almost 3 years for Russ and Derek to get to a healthy spot together in a relationship because you don’t get over things like that right away. It takes time.
While I loved Russ…he was almost too perfect. Almost too understanding. He had his moments and he was overprotective of Derek at times, but overall he was just so damned understanding. To be fair, I don’t think this book could have withstood Russ really being a dick on top of everything else, for any reason, so there’s that. If my only real complaint was that Russ was “too understanding” at times, then it’s actually a pretty fantastic book given the subject matter.
My one other complaint was that I could have done without Russ’s sister’s subplot. I felt it turned what was otherwise a well-balanced book into something a bit heavy handed. We didn’t need to know about her trauma to have Russ empathize with Derek.
Violated was a good book. I read it pretty quickly, which to me is an indicator of how well the story is woven. I think if you’re in the right frame of mind and don’t mind some heavy hitting issues this is a great book to pick up.
For some people this might turn into a longer read because it’s the type of thing you might have to set aside for a day if you get too mired in the emotions.
I purchased this book last week for my Friday Five Challenge and I think it was a good buy. Overall, I would recommend reading it.
Pick up my newest release, The Shape of Honey!
Yulian Volkov is an entrepreneur and lone werewolf who hates the city. At a pack meeting, he learns the only member he’s attracted to is being expelled for crimes unspecified. Yulian strikes a deal with the pack leader to allow Rolly Witten to live on his farm and work in his Meadery. Although enjoying handsome Rolly’s company, Yulian must tread carefully, since Rolly doesn’t trust him and the pack doesn’t acknowledge homosexuality exists. Meanwhile, Yulian stealthily courts Rolly by teaching him the value of his wolf side.
Rolly, who’s known he was gay since he was a teen, has accepted a life of solitude—and a life of crime. He has no desire to relocate. Yet Yulian’s trust in his ability to do honest work builds his confidence. As life is settling well for them, Rolly learns a friend from his old pack had a crush on him, and he’s torn between returning his friend’s feelings or pursuing the budding relationship with Yulian. But that’s not their worst problem. Assassins are trying to take out both wolves, and they need to figure out who wants them dead or all the trust and happiness they’re building together won’t matter.