This book is so much more and then some.

Violated - Jamie Fessenden
A Hearts On Fire Review

4.5 HEARTS-- Hello Mr. Fessenden. It's a pleasure to finally read your work. *pushes up glasses* I'm your newest fan. :)

I'm not one to hand out high ratings just because an author can handle a difficult subject. If anything, I'm even tougher on the story because I don't want pretty, simple happy endings once an 'owwie' is introduced. I recently read and reviewed a book on this blog where the main character was sexually assaulted and they miraculously recovered from the event to have sex with the new guy...in a few days.

I hate that.

Don't you think realistically it takes time to recover? Why must the victim jump back in the sex & emotions saddle to satisfy the reader instead of their self organically? Why can't the book give the victimized character due justice, a love story, a believable plot and back story?

If you're a reader like me who finds any of what I just mentioned your kind of thing, then let me introduce you to Jamie Fessenden's "Violated".

Because it is one hell of a book, without trying too hard. (Okay, I think there were minor quibbles for me. Quibblets, if you will.) But overall, excellent writing.

Told in dual timeline and alternating POV, Violated follows Derek Sawyer who has a sucky life with an overly jealous fiance, a sweet dog and a jerky muscle head best friend who is also his supervisor. Derek bought a vacation home/cabin in the woods of New Hampshire with his reluctant fiance, Tim and meets his hunky cop neighbor, Russ Thomas. Don't worry, no cheating happens. Russ is looking for love and tries social clubs and hookups but he keeps going back in his head to Derek.

The book title & blurb is a key hint as to what happened in the book. And it will be a deal breaker for some. Trigger warning: rape and abuse.

So let's just kick open the door without spoilering.

The rape and the aftermath. Was it graphic? Yes. And the aftermath was realistic. The PTSD. It struck a chord with me. A natural reaction for some might be the should have, could have and would have done in that type of situation but unless you've been in that situation, don't judge. It's a hard thing to do. And I can't judge a rape victim's choice. The numbers are out there, sadly each person doesn't get justice or get to see their rapist put behind bars. Nor does each victim seek counseling or speak up for themselves. I thought Derek's reactions to everything: before, during and after were true to life. Even the choice of rapist - Derek's best friend was statistically accurate, usually someone close to the person.

The rape does not darken the entire book. Violated is legit funny at points. There I am shattered along with Derek and then we cut to Russ who is hopeful for love and it doesn't work out. There is enough light to counterbalance the dark. I won't say 50/50 but it's frigging close.
"And I understand that Bill doesn't like having to wear condoms--he doesn't think it feels as good with one on--"

"Mom! Derek doesn't want to hear about what makes Bill's penis feel good."

Mrs. Thomas batted her eyelashes. "I'm sorry. Should we be talking about what makes your penis feel good instead?"

I swear Russ's mother is my kind of woman, super inappropriate and had no boundaries. I want to be her when I grow up.

I think the dual timeline worked for explaining the main characters and side characters (more so Tim the bitchy controlling fiance and Victor the villainous best friend). I got a deeper sense of how they ticked and worked. I understood their choices (if I didn't agree at that time I tried to remember, it's not what I want but what worked for the character) And the author really knew his characters.

I loved reading about real life men, struggling with...life. I enjoyed reading about Derek's struggles with his sexuality. He carried over resentment from his shitty childhood on what makes a real "man". I would love to do a case study on Derek.

As for the book's villain, I wish I could have had some alone time with him and a metal bat. I felt this way until nearly the end. And actually reading this guy, learning his thought process...he's just an idiot. I had my theory about him but I guess it'll remain a mystery.

The ending was fitting to the story. The justice? Closer to reality than not. And if you need to know, there is on-page sex in the book. The main characters have the majority of it with other people, but the story isn't about sex. And if you need to read about pure sex...why are you reading romance? Stroke fic is the better choice. ;) (Nothing wrong with that either.)

This book is about a connection between two men who weren't looking for it but got it anyway. It's quiet, but it is there.

This book is about rebuilding one's self after a tragedy, and not having a miracle delivered, or miracle penis solve the way.

This is not just a rape book.

This is romance, tame in comparison to some of the raunchier, popular titles that seem to be plaguing the feeds. I hope you catch the hint on what not to expect between the main characters too much.

The story ends at a great spot. It's a HEHEA <~~~ Hard Earned Happily Ever After. *whispers* The best kind.

And it works for the main characters.

Recommended for readers who don't mind the triggers, dual timelines and don't need a conventional HEA.

A copy provided for an honest review.