5 Stars, Dreamspinner Press, Jamie Fessenden, Literary Fiction, Reviewed by Taz

Review: Violated by Jamie Fessenden

Title: Violated

Author: Jamie Fessenden

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count:  256 Pages

At a Glance: I had no idea how Mr. Fessenden would handle this sensitive topic, and was impressed by the testimony he portrays through this story.

Reviewed By: Taz

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.


Review: WARNING: This book deals with rape, both the experience and the aftermath. This review may serve as a trigger for some people, so please proceed with caution. ~ TAZ

Violated is a sensitive and vivid portrayal of the impact a rape has on a person, with a particular focus on a male being raped. When I read the description of this book, I felt immediately compelled to read it. On the one hand, rape is one of those topics that is usually banned as part of submission guidelines. Of course, that is rape depicted gratuitously (whatever that means). The subject matter itself is permissible, but still taboo.

I had no idea how Mr. Fessenden would handle this sensitive topic, and was impressed by the testimony he portrays through this story. The first chunk of the book established the main characters and their relationships to one another. I had wondered whether the author would’ve chosen to begin the story where the rape had already occurred. This was not the case. Once we meet the characters, we experience the rape, rather graphically, from the point of view of our protagonist victim, Derek. While highly disturbing and difficult to read, it was clear Mr. Fessenden had researched the experiences of men who had been raped. The honesty of the physical experience was described, but moving forward, the book focused on the emotional damage as the protagonist struggles to regain his shattered sense of self-control and power.

And that was what made this story a brave and important read. I don’t know of anyone who has admitted being raped to me, and therefore I have no first-hand knowledge of what the experience is like after the fact. In reading Violated, I feel like I have a better understanding of the multi-faceted and deeply rooted injuries (both physical and emotional) that impact the victim, making recovery an uphill battle.

The author also chose not to over-dramatize the events following the rape, in terms of dealing with filing charges, giving testimony, facing the possibility of plea bargains, and the continued threat of physical violence. Derek had a very real set of concerns for his own safety and how others would view him, and the author provides a believable portrayal of the inner thoughts and worries. But the most disturbing and beautifully portrayed element of Derek’s suffering is the betrayals he endured from people who were supposed to be there for him, no matter what. I can’t even imagine how a victim of rape can heal when even the people they are supposed to trust the most aren’t able to provide appropriate support.

The other protagonist, Russ, was an amazing man. I appreciated that there was a preface that explained that the author had spoken to officers to learn about procedure, and then took some liberties to suit the love interest in the story. While there was clearly a conflict of interest with Russ having any involvement in the activities surrounding the investigation into Derek’s rape, I was prepared for this when it happened.





You can buy Violated here:

All Romance eBooks

All Romance eBooks

5 Stars, Audio Book, Drama, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, J.P. Barnaby, Reviewed by Kim

Audio Review: Spencer by JP Barnaby – Narrated by Tyler Stevens

Title: Spencer

Author: JP Barnaby

Narrator: Tyler Stevens

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Run Time: 7 Hours, 33 Minute

At a Glance: Between JP Barnaby’s writing and Stevens’ performance, it gave Spencer a touch of reality—bad things do happen to good people.

Reviewed By: Kim

Blurb: It’s been nearly five years since Aaron woke up in the hospital so broken, he couldn’t stand the sight of his own face. The flashbacks no longer dominate his life, but he’s still unable to find intimacy with his lover, Spencer Thomas. With time, patience, and the support of his family, his therapist, and his loving partner, Aaron has figured out how to live again. The problem is, Spencer hasn’t. His life has been on hold as he waits for the day he and Aaron can have a normal relationship. Hoping to move things forward for them both, he takes a job as a programmer in downtown Chicago, leaving Aaron alone.

Reeling in the wake of Spencer’s absence, Aaron receives another shock when his attackers are caught.

Now, he must testify and verbalize his worst nightmare. Publicly reliving his trauma without Spencer at his side destroys his precarious control. But he finds someone who can understand and empathize in Jordan, who watched his brother cut down in a school shooting. With Spencer gone and the DA knocking at his door, Aaron seeks solace in Jordan, and Spencer will have to risk everything to hold on to Aaron’s love.


Review: Our very own Lisa did a very riveting review on the book version of Spencer, and I wholeheartedly agree with what she had to say about it.

Spencer was frustrating for me to read and listen to, mainly because I understand where Aaron is coming from. His life was literally stolen from him during a night of terror, and no matter what, through his eyes life for him will never be the same again. How this young man goes about reclaiming his life is nothing short of a miracle. Others would have let the bastards win by giving up. It’s frustrating for Aaron because he would like nothing better than to be free of his monsters. Knowing that he’ll struggle with PTSD for the rest of his life, he still keeps trying to improve his life and his relationship with Spencer.

It’s frustrating for Spencer, who loves Aaron but doesn’t know exactly what to do for his lover. Spencer is having trouble accepting that Aaron has to do things in his own time, in his own way. But while Spencer does love Aaron, I could see that he wanted to spread his own wings when he took the job in Chicago. It was something Spencer needed to do for himself.

What made Spencer less frustrating was when Aaron had a chance to meet others like him. It made the world a little less lonely and scary, knowing there were other survivors like him who were willing to give him hope that someday things might work out. Jordan made a really good friend to talk to about the PTSD, and the surprise guests that appeared in Spencer gave Aaron a look into his future, if he could manage to take back control when it came time to testify.

I’m was so glad that Tyler Stevens narrated Spencer. He did such a outstanding job with Aaron it was only fair he continue with this second story. Between JP Barnaby’s writing and Stevens’ performance, it gave Spencer a touch of reality—bad things do happen to good people. But with a whole lotta love and support, the victim can transform into a survivor and take back control of their lives.

You can buy Spencer here: