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A Gandy Girl


Violated - Jamie 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.  - Blurb excerpt from “Violated”


Needless to say, this is not a book I would have sought out at all.  Rape for me is very difficult to read and so typically I avoid books with this theme. The violation of another person in that way is just more than my heart can take. So reading this was a personal feat and I am so glad I took this on.  This was breathtaking.


“You… destroyed… me.”



Derek is not only raped but raped by someone he knows…someone he trusted…someone he has called his best friend for over 20 years.  How can he trust again?  Trust a man again?


This was undeniably difficult to endure but Jamie Fessenden deserves all the accolades on this one. Jamie beautifully brings you into the mind of Derek. Feeling every emotion, every fear, every internal struggle, flinch, panic attack and self-accusation.  Not to mention feeling how vulnerable a victim of rape becomes and more specifically how a gay man feels. The sensory acuity expressed here is exceptionally captured. From the smell of Victor's cologne to his voice you feel every emotional impact this has.


Derek had his own demons from his childhood that certainly did not help his situation at all but learning to live with this incident was a huge part of his journey.  And it was Russ who ultimately became a part of that journey. 








I want to tackle you in a hug and cuddle you forever. I just love you.



This is one of the most caring and loving men I have ever read about.  Patient and protective, he is exactly who Derek needs.  And while Russ has his own POV is it not until nearly 60% that the relationship begins.  And getting their stories before their relationship was a huge part of understanding who each of these men are and what they need.  But no one was more perfect for Derek than him. 


Whenever Derek caught his eye, the warmth he found there amazed him. No man had ever looked at him quite like that.



Even though he knew Russ wouldn’t want him to feel that way, Derek felt foolish and self-indulgent. He reached across the table and rested his right hand over Russ’s left. For a few seconds he did nothing more than rest it there, until he concluded that he liked the feel of Russ’s skin under his fingers. He stroked it lightly with his fingertips and glanced up to see Russ watching him closely.



The rape and the journey consume nearly every page of this book.  This is not a remote incident but is a part of Derek that has ultimately changed him forever.  How this couple learns to handle each other is quite remarkable. The relationship has some of the most touching and heartwarming moments I have read in a while.


Susan had warned Russ that Derek would never be “over” what Victor had done to him. He would never forget it. It would never go away. It would always influence his feelings about sex, about men, about friends…. But he and Derek could still build a life together. They could still love each other. Russ just needed to let Derek heal in his own way, over the rest of his life.



No doubt that this book will stay with me for some time and undoubtedly it will land at the top of my best of 2017 list this year. 


**Highly Recommended**