Defenseless

Author: A.J. Rose

Publisher: The Grim Writer Press

Rating: 4 stars

Buy Links: Amazon

Type: Novel in a Series

Received from Publisher

 

Blurb: 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

Review:  Kyle and Jessie are just starting their life to together; young, in love and with a bright future ahead of them. Seven months in, they are taking the next step in their relationship and setting up a home together. It isn’t entirely smooth sailing, Kyle is bisexual and has been hesitant to come out to his parents, fearing their reaction to him being with another man. Still, their relationship is solid, they are happy and successfully navigating life’s obstacles with the love and support of each other. Celebrating Pride and the Supreme Court win legalising same sex marriage a month after moving in together, and a marriage proposal, Jesse and Kyle are on top of the world when a few minutes of violence and hate irrevocably change their world.

Defenseless is story of the aftermath of that attack – how it impacts its victims physically, emotionally and mentally. How it changes them and those around them as they all try to deal with the consequences. It’s about Jesse and Kyle’s journey from victims to survivors.
While this isn’t the fairy tale of a loving couple supporting each other unerringly through a terrible ordeal, and even though the turmoil within themselves and the strain it put on their relationship – possibly even enough to break them – is heartbreaking (and my heart did break for them), I never had any doubt about how much they loved each other. I loved both the MCs, and so wanted them to find their way together through the repercussions of what had been done to them. On top of the reality of dealing with the physical injuries Jesse sustained, the self-blame, anger and fear, coupled with Kyle keeping his father’s reaction to the attack from Jesse, threatened to tear them apart. The author portrayed all of their emotions and reactions with great realism, and it sometimes made for hard reading, but the issues brought up were dealt with sensitively. The same wasn’t always the case with some of the topics the author obviously wished to personally highlight. I found that there were a few times where it felt like the author was using the narrative as “teaching moments” and telling me, as the reader, rather than showing me the message they wanted to convey through Kyle and Jesse’s story. It skated between being about topics that were relevant to the characters and the author preaching on issues that were personally important them. I have no problem with books including messages on issues, but it’s a thin line between bringing issues to a reader’s awareness and preaching them at the reader, and those moments pulled me out of the story each time. However, most of the moments were in the first part of the book, and I did feel a lot more immersed in the story for the remainder. Conversely, there were also some incredibly powerful scenes, not just for the characters, but also as a reader, where the author did a fantastic job of seamlessly imparting knowledge on a subject while maintaining the narrative.
The trial was exceptionally well done. It was obviously an important part of Kyle and Jesse’s story, so needed appropriate page time or it would have seemed like it was glossed over. The author didn’t drag it out unnecessarily though, and kept it interesting to read. Defenseless is a powerfully written account of love, loss, and healing and what it takes to come through the other side of a sudden and life-changing event. There were some extremely gripping scenes, evocatively written, which provoked a visceral reaction. There were also light-hearted scenes with their friends and loved ones that made me smile and laugh with them. While it was a tough subject that was tackled by the author, it was balanced out by love and support that was provided by almost all of the secondary characters. The characters were so believably portrayed throughout their journeys towards healing and recovery, both individually and as a couple. I felt everything they went through, both good and bad. I cried with them, raged with them, hoped with them. Felt their heartbreak and their joy.

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