I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to handle the content in this book, but I felt compelled to read it. I am so glad I did and that I have discovered yet another talented new-to-me author.
Author: Rick R. Reed
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Aaron Anderson
Rating: 4.5 of 5 Stars
It should have been a perfect night out. Instead, Mark and Donald collide with tragedy when they leave their favorite night spot. That dark October night, three gay-bashers emerge from the gloom, armed with slurs, fists, and an aluminum baseball bat.
The hate crime leaves Donald lost and alone, clinging to the memory of the only man he ever loved. He is haunted, both literally and figuratively, by Mark and what might have been. Trapped in a limbo offering no closure, Donald can’t immediately accept the salvation his new neighbor, Walter, offers. Walter’s kindness and patience are qualities his sixteen-year-old nephew, Justin, understands well. Walter provides the only sense of family the boy’s ever known. But Justin holds a dark secret that threatens to tear Donald and Walter apart before their love even has a chance to blossom.
We meet Donald and Mark, an adoring gay couple, in the prologue of Bashed. As they leave a leather bar and head to their car late one night, they are approached by a group of young men and become the victims of a horrific hate crime that takes Mark’s life and leaves Donald terrified and adrift without his partner. What follows is Donald’s journey through grief and loneliness as he battles to right a world that has been turned on its axis, a world that is no longer what it used to be, a world in which danger is still lurking, waiting to appear once again.
This is a love story, certainly, but more than that it is a story of survival and courage in the face of grief and despair. Mr. Reed captures the collapse of Donald’s world in gorgeous, devastating detail. The aching loneliness of utter loss bleeds from the pages, gripping the reader’s heart without letting go. As Donald attempts to recover from the attack physically and mentally, he re-lives snippets of the life he shared with Mark, and we get to know the beauty of their love and experience the emptiness that is left in the wake of Mark’s death. The process of Donald working through his anguish is vivid and poignant and had me in tears during many points in the story. His attempts to ease his pain and the results of his reaching out feel realistic and honest, reflecting the truths of how overcoming loss is a process and different for each individual.
This is not only Donald’s story, however. This is also Ronny and Justin’s story, as Mr. Reed gives us a revealing look at each of these young men and their motivations and reactions. I appreciated seeing this different perspective on how fear and hatred can escalate and lead to violence, dire consequences, and overwhelming regret. Though difficult to read, it is a sobering picture of how lack of understanding others and our own selves can drive people to lash out at what they don’t or refuse to accept and comprehend.
Ultimately, though, this is a suspenseful, hard-hitting story of recovery, healing, and redemption. Ranging from horrific brutality to tender affection, and with a possible touch of the paranormal, Bashed evokes a wealth of emotions and provides the reader with a touching portrayal of a man searching for answers and closure in the face of overwhelming heartache. It is not an easy read, nor does it provide a typical romantic reading experience with an HEA. It does, however, give the reader a gripping, unflinching look at the potential good and bad in all of us and how, above all else, there is hope that love and goodness can prevail even during the darkest times of our lives.
I would like to thank the publisher for providing me with the eARC of this title in exchange for my honest opinion.
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.
Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,
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