ARC Review: Violated by Jamie Fessenden
Author: Jamie Fessenden
Length: 256 Pages
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Publication Date: August 7, 2015
Heat Level: Moderate
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.
Violated, by Jamie Fressenden, is an in depth look at what a man goes through after being the victim of a sexual assault/rape. I think most people probably assume men never go through this type of assault, but it’s just as likely to happen to men as it is to women.
Derek has been with his fiancé, Tim, for 5 years but their relationship is pretty rocky even on the best of days. Tim is constantly allowing jealousy to rule his thoughts and seems to always be looking for any reason to accuse Derek of cheating. He comes across as insecure, self-absorbed, and a tad controlling.
Derek puts up with it because he loves him, although I’m not sure he is IN love with him but, he is safe and comfortable, and he keeps thinking it will get better. I felt like Derek needed to have a stronger backbone when it came to Tim. I don’t think things are going to improve much after the 5year mark if they haven’t already.
Convincing Tim to buy a cabin away from the city for peace and relaxation had Derek hoping they could enjoy some time together away from their hectic week. As soon as they meet, Russ, the neighbor, Tim turns into the ass that he is and thinks Derek will cheat on him.
Russ is a police officer who loves his dog and his cabin and wants someone to come home to each day. He dates but never seems to find anyone that he connects with that wants the same things. He finds Derek attractive and he likes his friendship, but he would never make a move on a man in a relationship.
Derek and Victor have been best friends for 20 years, and even though Victor is his boss, he is still the rude and crude friend he’s always known. When they have to go out of town on a business trip, too much alcohol allows Victor to assault/rape Derek. I can’t help but think Victor would have done this eventually because he is crude and he took advantage of being drunk to force himself on Derek. His philosophy was Derek wanted him, has always wanted him, so he gave him what he’s been after. No…it doesn’t work that way, and someone guilty of their actions always looks for an excuse to compensate for their behavior.
Derek is traumatized by what happens but he doesn’t tell anyone. This goes on for months until finally Victor feels threatened by Derek’s accusations so he files a complaint first against Derek. He tries to confide in Tim about what happened since he has now lost his job but Tim doesn’t believe him and basically throws him out of his life. Tim, imo, had been waiting on an excuse to move on without Derek and now he has one. Being 5 years into the relationship held no weight with him, at all.
The author shows Derek struggling to get on with his life after the assault. I think he hit the nail on the head with his emotions, thoughts, and actions. At times, I actually felt the fear that was consuming Derek. Every look or touch now has a different meaning and simple things he used to do… like using the gym showers after his workout, now cause major anxiety.
Russ is very patient and understanding with Derek. He wants to help him work through his fear and protect him. But, he can’t be there all the time and Derek, on more than one occasion, resents the fact that Russ is there waiting to step in and save him.
I don’t think it would be fair for me to say how he should have handled the situation or how he should have felt. No one knows how you would behave until you are in the same situation yourself. I do think the author was able to show that it is a process. It takes time, years even, and maybe never - to fully get over something of this magnitude. You probably just learn ways to deal with it and hopefully can build trust again with people closest to you.
Derek and Russ are a slow burn and they are trying to make it work. In fact, it has been three years since the incident and Derek is still working at getting past some of his fears. I appreciate that the author didn’t sweep this under the rug like nothing ever happened in order to wrap up the ending.
I find it hard to say I enjoyed this story because how can you enjoy reading about someone suffering from rape. I will say that I think the story was realistic and believable and I think the author showed the emotions very well. I became tense and caught myself holding my breath a few times depending on what was happening to and/or around Derek.
I wouldn’t call this a romance story either, although hopefully Derek and Russ can find common ground and will continue to work at building their future together. There isn’t really any sex in the story and it was appropriate for there not to be considering the fear that Derek held.
Some of Derek’s problem with being able to come to grips with what happened I believe stem from his childhood and upbringing. I would have liked to see a little more of that brought out in the story and maybe seen more character development with Derek.
The writing was well done and the execution was good. There could have been some things left out of the story that weren’t relevant but overall the aftermath is very believable and causes you to really think about the issue.
* I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review through http://mmgoodbookreviews.wordpress.com *