Favorites of 2016 • "Recap" • Day 10 • Defenseless by AJ Rose + Giveaway

For the month of December, MM Book Escape, will be posting a recap of the books that TOOK ME AWAY. They are in no particular order and if you enter the giveaway and give me your favorite book of the year, or at least one that left an impact, and the book you've been dying to read, I will gift that book to you, plus the $10 Amazon gift card.

Happy Holidays and Happy Reading from MM Book Escape!!

From Rainbow Award-winning author AJ Rose, Defenseless is a gut-wrenching, heart-stopping story of love through adversity.

Kyle Decker knew dating Jesse McGovern would change his life. Young and in love, and with the Supreme Court ruling in favor of marriage equality, the world is theirs to conquer.

But their victorious Pride celebration ends in a savage attack, brutally demonstrating they’re far from equal. Instead of wedding planning, Jesse and Kyle face an arduous recovery and a shattered sense of their place in the world, their once-promising future suddenly something to survive.

While Jesse struggles with a permanent injury and its emotional aftermath, Kyle’s single-minded focus on Jesse’s recovery is the only thing keeping his demons at bay…for now. What was a once-in-a-lifetime kind of love is now full of lies and resentment.

With their dreams tattered and forever changed, trusting anyone—even each other—is daunting. So how can they have faith in twelve strangers on a jury? They’ve already learned the hard way it only takes a moment to become truly defenseless.



So happy, so in love and thrilled to be sharing their first apartment together, Kyle and Jesse are exhilarated when the ruling comes down for nationwide marriage equality. They rush to meet each other in the parking lot where they both work, although in different locations of the hospital, as they wait for the announcement. And then it comes. They won!!

“We won?” Jesse needed confirmation. It was too good to be true.

Kyle laughed, almost manic as he grabbed Jesse in a fierce hug. He shook, and to Jesse’s astonishment, a sob escaped, muffled by his shoulder.

“We won,” Jesse whispered, squeezing his eyes shut.

As I was reading, I was going through this, with Jesse and Kyle, celebrating with them—I felt as though I was right there—standing beside them. I was thrilled on their behalf and wanted to hug them badly and celebrate with them. I was a full body of goosebumps with tears flowing nonstop down my face. The writing is intense and powerful and this is the very beginning of the book and it doesn’t let up. I knew I better bring in the whole roll of paper towels. I was going to need them.

If I was writing this review with pen and paper I would have a waste basket filled full with wadded up paper where I’ve started over so many times trying to put my thoughts in order of what I want to say. I haven’t looked at other reviews because I didn’t want to know how anyone else described their experience with Defenseless. So, the best way I know how. . .here it goes. 

I had to pace myself because I’m a migraine sufferer. And, I’m a bawl baby (which sets off migraines) and not only am I invested in the story, I quickly am now devastated by the turn of events. This is an intense, emotional, gut-wrenching journey that you take with Kyle and Jesse and it is a journey. You are with them as they celebrate marriage equality with their family and friends and you—honest to god—feel like you are one of those friends. You are an ally and elated for them and all the good that will be coming their way.

You already know by the blurb that a savage attack is going to happen, so there is this undercurrent flowing that keeps you on pins and needles, but OMFG! I won’t describe it to you. It’s brutal and it’s hard to read and I had to walk away and get my crying under control. I forgot I was reading. It’s that real. I was filleted and gutted and I was just a bystander.

As I was reading I kept thinking—there are books that are fun to read, that are sexy and get your heart and blood pumping, and we love those, right? Then you have books like this! Books that have so much depth and hold you on a precipice afraid to breathe. A book that you literally have to lay down for a little bit to gather your composure before you can continue. A book that you want to talk to people about. Open up discussions about and say, hey. . .this happened! This is real life.

Kyle and Jesse go through a gamut of emotions that threaten to tear apart their relationship that, prior to the attack, was heading towards marriage. They, both, put on a brave exterior but on the inside they are breaking. Both afraid of adding more turmoil and/or burdens they start withholding trying their best to work it out alone but all that does—eventually—is put more cracks in an already breaking foundation.

One of the many things I truly admired in this story, and there are many, were the friends and family that stick like glue by Jesse and Kyle. Some are old friends and some are new, but they are all amazing and a true representation of what friendship means.

Bobby, Kyle’s brother, deserved the MVP award, in my opinion. In the beginning, he was a little obnoxious, didn’t understand Kyle being bi and probably was favored to be the most prejudice but he was anything but. He was Kyle’s biggest supporter, ally, cheerleader, and all around incredible person who wouldn’t hesitate to kick your ass if you messed with his brother. When he stands up to their dad on Kyle's behalf, OMG, well, my husband thought I was cheering for the ball game. NO!! I was cheering on Bobby!!

This is the author’s best work as far as I’m concerned. The research as well as life experiences fine-tuned this story into a masterpiece that felt like I was watching real life play out in front of me. AJ takes the reader along for the ride as Jesse and Kyle try to figure out where they go next, through therapy, the mind over matter with pain pills, the struggle of needing help but not wanting to ask for it. I know about some of these things and she nailed it.

There’s also one quote, among several, I highlighted that I felt was really important.

“I guess these things are never as black and white as we think they’ll be. People talk about how they’ll smack down a homophobe or a racist, but being in the situation is different than some hypothetical ‘that wouldn’t happen to me, and I wouldn’t let it’ kind of thing.”

Kyle is talking about his dad here who is having trouble accepting what is going on, but this is so true. Unless you are in the situation, you just don’t know how you would react. And that’s with any situation.

I can’t recommend this story highly enough. AJ Rose doesn’t sugar coat, she doesn’t bullshit—she reaches in your chest and grabs your heart and squeezes and twists until you think you can’t catch your next breath—and then. . . all of a sudden, you feel a little air coming through. 

I cried a lot through the reading of this story, but I also laughed and smiled and I had goosebumps several times. I felt their elation more than once, I felt their pain, their anguish, their despair, but damn, damn, I felt their joy and I was crying at the end, again, but it was happy tears.