Rating: 3.5 stars
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Derek just bought the lake cabin he has always wanted. His fiancé, Tim, isn’t as thrilled about the cabin and certainly isn’t pleased to see Derek talking to the hot neighbor, Officer Russ. Even with Tim’s jealousy, life is pretty good for Derek. He has a great job and his supervisor is his closest friend, Victor. A business trip, a shared hotel room, and too many drinks changes all of that as Victor sexually violates Derek. In one moment, Derek’s entire world is shattered.
Derek tries to move past it by pretending the attack never happened. It takes all of the strength he has to work with Victor and every day is an exercise in humiliation and fear. When Derek thinks the situation can’t get any worse, Victor reports Derek for sexual harassment, which results in Derek getting fired. Derek now has no job, his boyfriend dumps him, his mortgage is due, he’s paralyzed by fear, and he has nowhere to turn
Officer Russ sees the signs and knows something is terribly wrong with Derek. With Russ’ encouragement and a close relationship developing between the men, Derek gains the courage to report the crime months later. But Victor will not tolerate being accused and it seems nowhere is safe for Derek.
Violated. While that is the title of the book that is also exactly what happens to Derek. He is physically and emotionally violated starting with his closest friend, to the HR department at work, and then his fiancé. The author does a good job here of getting into Derek’s head as he attempts to deal with the aftermath of being raped. He is utterly humiliated that he was not able to fight off the attack and emotionally broken as he tries to just carry on in all aspects of his life without telling anyone. He also has to work with his attacker.
What happened to Derek is terrible and there is no question about that. However, I expected this book to be a tough read due to the subject matter, but there was a certain amount of emotional detachment from Derek. The story had more of a mechanical feel as opposed to an emotional one. There was a beginning with the attack and there was an ending for Derek, but the middle read as a lot of filler with many lulls in the storyline for me.
Russ was attracted to Derek immediately, but would never make a play for a man that was not available. So we see him having hook-ups and attending a clothing optional weekend get-away. The scenes of Russ on his own did not further the story, but rather detracted from it for me. Russ also has a sister and her part in the story read as either entirely too convenient to inappropriate at times.
Victor, the attacker, was not a well-drawn character, remained flat on the page, and I felt that I should have been more impacted by him. When we reached the end, there were areas that didn’t come together for me, such as Derek, who remains terrified, forgetting to lock his door. The company Derek worked for needed to be held more accountable somewhere and while not every area can have full closure, the author brings Derek closure with Tim only to a certain point, but not all the way.
Violated was not the dark, emotional read that I was anticipating, but I do recognize the author for tackling a sensitive subject and making it accessible.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.