Author: AJ Rose
Length: 438 Pages
At a Glance: Author AJ Rose uses her gift as a storyteller to weave a tale that draws forth every emotion, from anger to laughter to love, and she does so with the hope that we will begin to understand that gay bashing leaves a long-lasting mark on all of society and not just its victims.
Reviewed By: Sammy
Blurb: Kyle Decker knew dating Jesse McGovern would change his life. Young and in love, and with the Supreme Court ruling in favor of marriage equality, the world is theirs to conquer.
But their victorious Pride celebration ends in a savage attack, brutally demonstrating they’re far from equal. Instead of wedding planning, Jesse and Kyle face an arduous recovery and a shattered sense of their place in the world, their once-promising future suddenly something to survive.
While Jesse struggles with a permanent injury and its emotional aftermath, Kyle’s single-minded focus on Jesse’s recovery is the only thing keeping his demons at bay…for now. What was a once-in-a-lifetime kind of love is now full of lies and resentment.
With their dreams tattered and forever changed, trusting anyone—even each other—is daunting. So how can they have faith in twelve strangers on a jury? They’ve already learned the hard way it only takes a moment to become truly defenseless.
Review: I will admit to you that I avoided reading this novel. I knew it would gut me in many ways. I knew this because AJ Rose has become one of the finest m/m authors in the genre today when it comes to writing characters that literally crawl inside you and become part of you in just so many good ways. Her writing has grown stronger and more sophisticated with each story she writes, and I most assuredly understood that writing a book whose topic was so very near and dear to her heart would result in an outstanding piece of literature. And I was not wrong. So I waited. I steeled myself to the knowledge that this novel would own me in many ways, and that its characters would not leave me alone—they and their story would haunt me—and I was right. I am gutted in so many good ways.
If you have read the blurb then you know what this book is about, and I am not going to waste time on trying to do any further unpacking of the narrative since to add much more would be to give away too much of the plot. Instead, I am going to tell you why this novel is an important read for anyone who has ever doubted that the gay community has suffered at the hands of bigots, and has the scars to prove it. In Defenseless, we watch the dismantling and reconstruction of two men whose lives are irreparably changed forever. Through the skill of a talented and intelligent author, we are taken on their journey through great joy to bottomless despair and back again. We are privy to the nightmare their lives become after an attack that leaves one of them nearly dead and the other burdened with survivor guilt that runs so deep it almost suffocates them both.
We watch with a heavy heart and often tear-filled eyes as two men attempt to put their lives back together and survive the soul-crushing hate that nearly became their undoing. This novel is visceral—you can hear the boot as it strikes Jesse. This novel is intense—you breathe in the panic and fear that haunts Jesse and Kyle when they attempt to begin living life again after their attack. This novel is rich in emotion, long in the path toward recovery and realistic in its approach to what it takes for a survivor of gay bashing to piece together their lives again. But, most importantly, this story, this incredibly painful, beautiful story, speaks of the triumph of love—not a sugar coated, all will be well kind, but a gritty, strong, surviving kind. A love that dips and plunges into dark places and nearly meets its demise but, like the phoenix, rises from the ashes to soar again.
Author AJ Rose uses her gift as a storyteller to weave a tale that draws forth every emotion, from anger to laughter to love, and she does so with the hope that we will begin to understand that gay bashing leaves a long-lasting mark on all of society and not just its victims. She reminds us that it takes such incredible strength and determination to rise above the fear and despair violence wreaks upon the innocent, and she does so with a beautifully triumphant story that reminds us that love can anchor us even in the darkest of storms.
I highly recommend Defenseless to you.
You can buy Defenseless here: