A note from PBA: I understand that not every book is for every person, as such I try to ensure that the person reviewing any given title is the right audience for it. When my most hard-core reviewer comes to me and tells me that a book is “too much” and “wrong”, I listen. Please remember that this is one reviewers opinion, but the issues she raises are way too important to overlook. Fiction is what it is, but sometimes it needs to be something more. To find out more about abuse in fiction check out Optimist ♰King’s Wench♰’s post on the subject. – Brandilyn
Just so you know:
WARNING: THIS BOOK CONTAINS A SCENE OF GANG RAPE AND GRAPHIC VIOLENCE.
I sincerely wish I had had that information prior to reading The Wrong Side of Right. That’s not to say that I don’t read books with rape and torture themes. I do. But they come with a warning label so I know what to expect. I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again, no two people read the same book. We all bring our own life experiences and viewpoints to… well, everything. This is simply my interpretation.
Title: The Wrong Side of Right
Author: Nya Rawlins
Rating: 1 out of 5 Stars
From the Publisher
Tony Mitchell is a loner who spends most of his life staying low, denying who and what he is until Aiden Caldwell walks into the shop and changes everything. Tony thinks his new supervisor hates his guts, but that doesn’t keep Tony from dreaming and yearning. His fantasies drive him to follow the older man, revealing a secret that only confounds Tony’s obsession.
Conflicted and confused, Tony falls under the spell of a man called Tank who leads Tony down a dark path of seduction and dangerous cravings. Under Tank’s guidance, Tony learns to suspend reality, to succumb. The one thing he doesn’t learn is how to say no.
Aiden Caldwell pulls Tony from the precipice but not from the addiction that threatens to consume the young man.
In the matter of love and trust, can two men intent on hiding their most secret selves find common ground as fate and their own tumultuous pasts conspire to tear them apart?
I’ll be frank I hated 70% of this book, 25% of the time I spent shaking my head and the other 5% I spent hoping it would get better. It didn’t. First and foremost, my problem with The Wrong Side of Right is the blatant and appalling romanticization of abusive relationships. Coming in a close second, it’s poorly researched. I didn’t enjoy the story arc nor the prose. Lastly, all of the characters are nebulous and unlikeable.
Now, let’s get down to specifics.
The Wrong Side of Right spends a great deal of time and energy trying to convince the reader that both of Tony’s relationships are some unconventional derivation of love-the theory of two wrongs somehow making a right. Let me disabuse you right now of that notion. It is NOT OK to romanticize abuse.
If someone refers to you as ‘asshole’, ‘asshat’, ‘idiot’, ‘dickhead’, ‘little shit’, ‘stupid fuck’ or ‘dipshit’ regularly, that’s abuse.
If someone makes you cower because of their volatile temper, propensity to trap you into a room and scream at you, that’s abuse.
If someone pinches your chin until it hurts to make their point and/or get your attention, that’s abuse.
If someone slams you into a wall, that’s abuse.
If someone shakes you until your head flails back and forth while “ignoring the whimpers”, that’s abuse.
ANYTHING above and beyond what’s listed above is abuse and it isn’t romantic.
The contention that this behavior in any way, shape, form or fashion could be construed as such sickens me. Yet Tony falls into this trap not once but twice during the course of this book by way of Tank and Aidan. Tank whisks him away to his beach house where they engage in breath play and sounding the first time they ever have sex, I might add. They spend a romantic day on the beach only to come home to three of Tank’s motorcycle buddies who want to “share” Tony. And Tank lets them. He leaves, later saying it was to get help. Meanwhile his three buddies take turns on Tony, then start using him as a punching bag and finally start carving on him just before Tank arrives with his friend and a shotgun. His femoral artery could easily have been severed, but does Tony get taken to the ER, you ask? No. Instead his boss, Aiden, comes to pick him up along with Jorge, Tony’s co-worker whom he’s been paying $20 weekly for illicit blow jobs in the back office of the quick lube.
Aiden takes him home, has him remove all of his clothes, offering him a t-shirt in exchange with no shower nor medical attention, calls him ‘dipshit’ then proceeds to have him start working on his businesses’ financials. He just got gang raped and the only sensible thing Aiden can think of to do with him is have him do some accounting? Which leads me to my second point.
As many of you know, I work in the field of mental health. I see people who have been abused/raped/molested every day. Not once has any of them EVER said they enjoyed it. In fact, it’s not uncommon for people who have been raped to have serious avoidance issues with sex altogether for quite some time. I’ve never spoken to a victim and had them tell me it never comes back on them. Never. I have spoken to several who have blocked the abuse, but that’s a whole different conversation for another time and place. Not only was Tony gang raped and tortured in The Wrong Side of Right, but I’m supposed to believe that his crying once was the end of it and he’s back to being randy? Ok, I can try to suspend reality and go with that for the sake of the plot line. But then it went so far as to have Tony LIKING the rape. No. Unacceptable. Then to add insult to injury Tony’s “liking it” got labeled as a newfound taste for kink, supposedly of the pain and forced submission variety which isn’t BDSM, in case you were wondering.
“Tank had given him a taste for kink, his buddies had offered the full banquet.”
I cannot in any way condone this sentiment and quite frankly, I find it offensive. Then again, Tony’s mantra is:
“We’re sick fucks, aren’t we?”
This quote should give you a sense of the complete and utter lack of self-worth Tony has:
“Aiden had gone skittish on him, indulging his whims when he should have been pounding him into roadkill.”
So, Tony has deluded himself into believing abuse and/or sex equate to love which brings me to these characters.
“Tony had finally realized that what he wanted, what he so desperately needed, was to feel cherished and loved and respected.”
Tony is, quite frankly, a pathetic character. He has no concept of what the words “cherished, loved or respected” actually mean which in a way makes me pity him. Then again, ignorance is bliss. He has no voice; he allows people to run roughshod over him regularly so much so that he allows Jorge to bareback him the second time they have sex. They are not in a relationship. In fact, Jorge is still seeing Maria, his some time girlfriend. The first time Tony meets Tank, Tank corners him in the restroom and asks him if he’s ever been raped then proceeds to jack them both off and Tony never utters a word of protest. Not during or after and later muses:
“Mostly what they shared was trust. And an addiction that threatened to get out of control, especially if they explored those limits together.”
Really? The guy that cornered you in a restroom, jacked you off, illicitly paid you $100 for the pleasure, left you with his three biker buddies to gang rape you, beat the crap out of you and cut on you who then left you afterwards only to randomly turn up at your apartment about a week later to whisk you away yet again to a cabin by the river, bind you in a sling, engage in breath play and sounding once more and leave you naked directly afterwards. Again? That guy is the one you trust? I don’t know about you guys, but I’d call that misguided.
Tony’s impulsive, reckless, and has no forethought whatsoever. His methods of coping with even the slightest obstacle are to either drink to excess or run away. To say that his relationship with Aiden is volatile would be an understatement. Yet, he’s so desperate for any sort of affection that he believes he loves both Aiden and Tank and the indecisiveness of his affections just made the notion that he and Aiden loved one another ludicrous.
Aiden’s a bully, has a dreadful temper, is known to punch holes into the drywall, yells, screams and shakes Tony regularly. Up until Aiden comes to rescue Tony from Tank’s beach house, Tony believes that Aiden hates him with good reason. He regularly berates and belittles him at work, in front of others. After the “rescue”, Aiden’s friend, Ruby, politely informs Tony that all of Aiden’s behavior actually means that he likes him. Ruby likens the behavior to little boys who pull little girls’ hair. Aiden is 43. I’m supposed to not only identify with a character who acts like a child but to condone that behavior because it’s par for the course? Tony and Aiden’s relationship, such as it is, can be summed up as fighting and fucking. That’s it. It’s a blessing that Ruby is such a good friend because he’s called to referee often since neither of them have anything resembling communication skills. But apparently this equates to “love” in The Wrong Side of Right.
Overall, the story arc was confounding not to mention offensive. The characters engage in vigilante justice, are seedy and I think I’ve covered ad nauseam how unsavory their behaviors are all of which is worsened by the assertion that any of this equates to love. The fact that the rape is glossed over as part of Tony’s “dark” need i.e. his newfound kink just went all over me mainly because the inherent message is ‘it’s ok to rape someone as long as you make them come like a geyser’. That means they liked it and that it’s ok, right? No harm, no foul. Except in this case there was harm, it just got swept under the “kink” need/’I’m a sick fuck’ rug.
The time jumps were irksome and I’ve no idea what’s going on with the water in New Jersey. It’s like they’re living next to Chernobyl or something-none of it is drinkable so they inevitably have to resort to drinking beer instead. Convenient.
The writing style is muddled. I’m not even sure how to describe it. It’s sort of flowery, almost existential in a way, overly descriptive at times with a mixture of slang and spanglish that were jarring. There were many lines in Spanish that weren’t converted. Many of Tony’s inner musings were nonsensical. I didn’t care for the vocabulary choices of “phallus” and “bio break” nor did I care for Tony’s incessant need to refer to Tank as “his beast” and Aiden as “his Adonis”.
I can’t in any way recommend The Wrong Side of Right because I fundamentally disagree with the message; however, this book has a wide range of ratings which generally translates into it having made an impact on everyone differently. My line of work no doubt colors my perspective, but it is what it is.
Where to Buy
A review copy was provided in exchange for an honest review.
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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