Author: Sue Brown
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Rating: 3 stars
Type: Standalone Novel
Received from Publisher
Blurb: When Ethan Williams lands a job at Bingwell, Brock and Bacon, he realizes his coworkers aren’t exaggerating about James Trenchard. He really is a dick. But after Ethan is forced to work closely with James, he realizes there’s more to the lawyer than meets the eye.
Vibrant Ethan is a desperate reason to live again as James endures silent guilt and abuse from his husband after an accident. He calls Ethan for help after a beating, and stolen moments soon become the norm, but they can’t hide forever.
Ethan’s coworkers think he got his promotion because James is sweet on him, James is still being beaten despite his family’s concern, and the situation is swiftly becoming intolerable. Ethan and James need to find a way out of the cycle that’s hurting them both before their brand new love suffers as well.
As revealed in the blurb, this story is about a man being abused by his husband, who has developed a violent personality after suffering a head injury in an accident. Ethan has just started working at Bingwell, Brock and Bacon, the advertising agency for which James is the lawyer. His new coworkers are quick to tell Ethan all about James’ negative traits, and it only takes one meeting for Ethan to realize they aren’t exaggerating.
His opinion changes when he and James are assigned work on a project together and Ethan gets to know him better. The friendship takes a weird turn when Ethan is called to rescue James in the middle of the night from what James claims is a mugging. Ethan finds it odd that a lot of the hospital staff seem to know James from previous visits until he learns that James is a victim of domestic violence.
The relationship that develops between James and Ethan is a refuge for James when life at home gets unbearable, but the situation isn’t really healthy for either of them. Events occur that force James to make a decision about his situation, and Ethan is left not knowing if James will be able to come back to him. It all ends well, but it takes some time for James to heal and be ready to commit to Ethan, and for Ethan to realize that James is it for him.
It has taken me several days to figure out why this book didn’t have more of an impact on me than it did. Domestic violence is a difficult subject, particularly if the reader has suffered any form of abuse, and Sue Brown obviously did her homework. She hit all the right points in describing the reasons for James’ behavior, but I didn’t really feel James’ despair at being trapped in his abusive marriage. It all came off as very dispassionate and this made it difficult for me to really become engaged emotionally. I think more of James at home with his husband, while potentially difficult to read, might have made it feel more real to me.
That said, this book was well written and I would have given it a solid 4 stars if it had not been for the last chapter. I feel it didn’t fit the tone of the rest of the story, and it really just ruined it for me.