Dustin has never been able to stay on a bull for eight seconds. He tries over and over, but even though he’s become the butt of jokes around the circuit, he won’t give up. One night, after yet another fall, Dustin is sitting in a bar and is approached by a big, biker type (leather and chains and all) and accepts an offer to go back to the biker’s place. By the end of the night, the man has been beaten within an inch of his life, and Dustin is under arrest.
Part of his plea bargain has Dustin going to required counseling sessions with Diana, and he hates it. He doesn’t want to talk to her, or even be there. Diana is at her wit’s end, so she calls another doctor in for help.
Joe is a mentor of Diana’s and she thinks he can get through to Dustin. He’s used some unique methods in the past and gotten results. Joe agrees to help, but is completely unaware Dustin is someone from his past. He’s torn as to whether he should try to help, but it becomes a little too late when Dustin walks into the office. What follows is a long, painful, and difficult journey to saving Dustin from himself. Also, Dustin and Joe want to know if they can be together and heal each other.
Ok, first let me just throw this out there. Eight Seconds is absolutely FULL of triggers. I’m not going to try to hide them from you. It’s a difficult book to read with some disturbing subject matter. In fact, there is so much going on, I’m not sure if I am getting them all, but here is a basic list: alcoholism, child abuse/molestation, child murder, spousal abuse, infidelity, alcohol-induced blackout violence, and repressed memories. This book is not a fluffy, moonlight and roses romance. But…
…if you can get past all of that, you will discover a brilliantly written novel about two men who are so inherently broken it seems impossible they’ll be able to live any sort of normal life. Dustin and Joe will break your heart. I mean this. I cried so much while reading Eight Seconds I didn’t think my eyes would be dry again. I felt this book in such a visceral manner, and I believe it’s actually changed me.
Usually, I try to give a short rundown of the plot of a book I review. I simply can’t here. First of all, there is no “short.” A lot goes on in the nearly 300 pages of Eight Seconds. We see pieces of both Dustin and Joe’s past along with what’s going on in the present. There are also other characters. Diana, Joe’s friend and Dustin’s counselor, the mother of Dustin’s child (yes he’s gay) and his son, family members in flashbacks, and most memorably, Birdie, an elderly black woman who found Dustin on the street and brought him back to her ranch when she found him on the streets. Each of these characters plays an important role in the story.
Also, Eight Seconds isn’t a cut and dry story about Dustin having therapy and getting all better. I’d have felt cheated if that were the case. I admit there were several times where I turned off the power on my Kindle, stood up, and threw myself across my bed so I could yell and cry. There were times when I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to get through it. Once I commit myself to a review, though, I will do whatever it takes to finish, and what it took this time was a lot of faith and courage.
Speaking of faith and courage, our boys had so much! Joe in particular. I wish I could tell you exactly how much, but I’d give everything away. I’ve already said I won’t do that, so you’ll have to trust me. Joe is the man you want to have in your corner when things go wrong. Also, well…you’d want his family in your corner as well. That’s all I’m going to say 😉
I wanted to hate Dustin. He was an angry drunk who refused to do anything to help himself. Once I found out the scope of the horror he’d been through, I just wanted to embrace him and rock him to sleep. No person should be made to suffer so much. He’s a lucky man to have so many people want to help him, even if he thinks he doesn’t want/isn’t worthy of that help.
As I mentioned, this book is not about romance. It’s about healing. That isn’t to say there aren’t any romantic scenes. If I remember correctly, two of them are actually dreams/fantasies, and they are wonderful. The others (and there may only be another two or three) are also great. I’d call them moving and affirmations of the deep love Dustin and Joe have for each other. You know me. I’m kind of a sex hound, but the number of scenes were perfect for the story as a whole.
The only reason I gave this book a 4.75 stars rather than a 5 is I thought it wrapped up a little too neatly and quickly for as detailed and painful the rest of the story was, and even that is just a chippy thing.
So, to recap…Eight Seconds is brilliant. It’s heartbreaking and disturbing, but it’s absolutely worth a read, IF you can get past the triggers I’ve listed. If you’re looking for a feel good M/M romance, you need to look elsewhere. If you want to read a book with two men who will touch your soul and make you believe in redemption, read this!
PS…The words “Eight Seconds” actually do have some significance, but…I’m still not telling you!