Audiobook Review: Violated by Jaime Fessenden

Derek Sawyer thinks he has it all - a high-salaried position, a boyfriend, a dog, even a new cabin on the lake - until a business trip with his manager and best friend, Victor, shatters his world.

One night of drunken horsing around in their hotel room leads to the most intensely personal violation Derek has ever endured. As if the humiliation of working under his attacker every day isn't enough, Victor reports Derek for sexual harassment. Now he's without a job, without a boyfriend, and the mortgage on the cabin is due.

Officer Russ Thomas has worked with rape victims before, and it doesn't take him long to sort out the truth in Derek's tale. With his support, Derek finally reports the crime, months after it happened. But restraining orders and lawyers further Victor's anger toward him, and even though a relationship develops between Derek and the policeman, Russ can't be there to protect him all the time.

Listening Length: 9 hours and 42 minutes
Narrated by:  K.C. Kelly

Derek Sawyer hasn’t been entirely happy in his relationship for a while, but he’s willing to work on it. When he and his fiance, Tim, go to see their new cottage, Derek meets their new neighbour, police officer Russ Thomas. It doesn’t take long for Tim to become jealous and suspicious of Russ.

Soon after, Derek goes on a business trip with his best friend and co-worker, Victor. While on the trip, Victor does the unthinkable - he rapes Derek. Left broken and scared, Derek tries to go back to his normal life, but simply can’t. When everything comes out in the open, Tim turns his back on him. Only Russ, virtually a stranger, is willing to stand by Derek.

I’ve listened to an audiobook narrated by K.C. Kelly before and loved the narration. The audiobook for ‘Violated’ is solid. The pacing is good, the voices of different characters are differentiated, and the narration kept me engaged. The narrator does a good job of setting the appropriate mood for a book that deals with a very heavy topic.

‘Violated’ doesn’t gloss over Derek’s rape. It is all on-page, and we get a front-row seat to the damage it inflicts on Derek. The author depicts every aspect of rape - the physical affects, the mental trauma, the societal judgement, and even the possible economic outcome.

Anyone who has questioned a rape victim’s story simply because the victim took a long period of time to come forward should read this book.

In the aftermath of the rape, Derek falls apart. He finds it difficult to go to work, where he has to see Victor everyday. He can’t confide in Tim, who already thinks the worst of him. He’s alone, and what he feels most is the total humiliation of it all. Derek hates himself for the rape, and blames himself for being raped.

It’s not an easy thing to read. For the first half of the book, there’s no hint of happiness as Derek deals with the fallout of what happened to him. I spent the first half just angry and sad at the injustice of it all.

It isn’t until the second half, when Derek returns to his cabin, that we see him begin to slowly heal. There is no magic healing penis, which I can’t thank the author for enough. Russ knows something’s up with Derek, and so he keeps an eye out for Derek and gets to know him, but there’s no sex between the two for a long time.

I would say this book is more about Derek’s healing process than it is about the romance, and there’s nothing wrong with that. That doesn’t mean that the romance isn’t there, it’s just quiet. It’s clear that Derek and Russ have a connection, one which may have come about at an unfortunate time, but is nevertheless real.

I would have liked some more relationship development right before the epilogue. The epilogue skips two years in advance, and those two years seem to be where Derek and Russ really move forward, with both Derek’s recovery and their relationship. Even so, the epilogue leaves no doubt that Derek and Russ love each other deeply, and have worked hard for a happy ending.

‘Violated’ expertly addresses some difficult and pertinent topics, including rape, hypermasculinity, and the police’s attitude towards rape victims. This isn’t an easy book to read or listen to, but it is well-written and will make you think. If you don’t mind a romance that takes the backseat and a happy ending that isn’t conventional, but very realistic, give this book a try.

A review copy was provided in exchange for an honest opinion.

Find out more on Goodreads and Dreamspinner Press.

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