“Hate crimes are the scariest thing in the world because these people really believe what they’re doing is right.” – Cher
Author: Rick R. Reed
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Rating: 4 Stars
Blurb: 2nd Edition
It should have been a perfect night out. Instead, Mark and Donald collide with tragedy when they leave their favorite night spot. That dark October night, three gay-bashers emerge from the gloom, armed with slurs, fists, and an aluminum baseball bat.
The hate crime leaves Donald lost and alone, clinging to the memory of the only man he ever loved. He is haunted, both literally and figuratively, by Mark and what might have been. Trapped in a limbo offering no closure, Donald can’t immediately accept the salvation his new neighbor, Walter, offers. Walter’s kindness and patience are qualities his sixteen-year-old nephew, Justin, understands well. Walter provides the only sense of family the boy’s ever known. But Justin holds a dark secret that threatens to tear Donald and Walter apart before their love even has a chance to blossom.
Review: What do you do when everything is taken away from you in the blink of an eye? How do you pick up the pieces and move on when your foundation is shaken and nothing feels the same anymore? We watch Donald, the main character in Rick R. Reed’s Bashed, struggle with these very questions.
This is the most powerful book I’ve read from Rick R. Reed yet. Intense and gripping from start to finish, Bashed tells the story of Donald and Mark, a gay couple in love, who are the victims of a vicious hate crime while on their way home from the Brig, a leather bar they frequent. The beginning of the book is tough. Rick’s writing style lends perfectly to setting the stage, taking us through the details – as much as we don’t want to know – of the horrific attack. In fact, the entire story is so well written it’s obvious that along with the more lighthearted love stories in his catalog, Mr. Reed is a master at suspense.
In tandem with the actual event of the bashing and Donald’s story of how to go on with his life afterwards, we also see the POV of Justin, a sixteen year old kid who participated in the attack that night. Getting a glimpse into the minds of both Justin and Ronny, the main antagonist in the bashing and the one that causes the injury that kills Donald’s partner Mark, is a truly disturbing and scary thing. Justin is very much a scared kid who gets sucked into activities that he doesn’t entirely have the stomach for…But, Ronny is truly filled with hate and epitomizes the quote I chose to use above.
The way Rick ties everything together is very compelling, and I really enjoyed the paranormal aspect to the story. In fact, my favorite scene in the book is one in which Donald talks to his sister Grace about some things he has been experiencing, and instead of thinking him crazy, as he is convinced she will, she completely stands by him and offers him some amazing words of support.
This is definitely a recommended read. And, don’t miss the Afterword, wherein Rick gives insight into where the story idea came from. For me, reading it made this powerful story even more so.
You can buy Bashed here: