Contemporary · grief · lgbtqia content · own voices author · sexually explicit

REVIEW: Bashed by Rick R. Reed

The Official Description: Three haters. Two lovers. And a collision course with tragedy.

It should have been a perfect night out. Instead, Mark and Donald collide with tragedy when they leave their favorite night spot. That dark October night, three gay-bashers emerge from the gloom, armed with slurs, fists, and an aluminum baseball bat.

The hate crime leaves Donald lost and alone, clinging to the memory of the only man he ever loved. He is haunted, both literally and figuratively, by Mark and what might have been. Trapped in a limbo offering no closure, Donald can’t immediately accept the salvation his new neighbor, Walter, offers. Walter’s kindness and patience are qualities his sixteen-year-old nephew, Justin, understands well. Walter provides the only sense of family the boy’s ever known. But Justin holds a dark secret that threatens to tear Donald and Walter apart before their love even has a chance to blossom.

Just the facts: Gay men, homophobia, hate crime and the repercussions from both sides

As always Rick R. Reed delivers a hard-hitting, emotional and touching story.  – Kinzie Things

My thoughts bit: Donald and his partner Mark were leaving a gay club one night – the Brig – when they were victims of a hate crime. A car follows them, some young me get out and they have a baseball bat. What happens is terrifying and the descriptions are visceral, authentic, and disturbing.

The next time Donald regains consciousness he’s in pain, and his sister is the one who has to tell him that his partner is dead. When he returns to his apartment, he sees his dead lover. He’s not sure if it’s an apparition, his meds, or his conscience – why couldn’t he save his partner? – but he’s oddly comforted. At the same time as he longs for the appearance of Mark, Donald suffers greatly with flashes of the night that they were attacked.

One of the things that I always admire about Rick’s writing style is that way that he manages to convey emotions. Grief is such a real presence in this book. When Donald is mourning his partner… the shock and the way he finds himself almost unable to feel or act is very realistic. The way that Donald finds himself moving through the days without really being able to tell if he is awake or asleep… if things are real or a dream.

The book switches POV to Justin… he’s a teen with a troubled home life. It seems as though one of the only places that he is settled is at his Uncle’s home. Even though he can’t relate at all to his Uncle being gay… he seems to want to spend time there. It’s home. It’s someone who cares about him. Justin’s Uncle Walter doesn’t know that things are about to get very tangled up when he goes downstairs to borrow some bay leaves from his new neighbor.

In this story, the lives of Justin, Donald, and Walter are tangled together by chance and by choice. There’s a surprising amount of tension built up in this short novel…I would recommend it if you’re okay with the warnings.

Things You May Want To Know: Please be aware, I’m by no means an expert on what may or may not have the potential to disturb people. I simply list things that I think a reader might want to be aware of. In this book: (SPOILERS) gay-bashing, graphic violence, vivid description of hate crime that results in death, death of a loved one, grief, drug use.

Links: Goodreads // The Author // The Publisher

I received an ARC of Bashed by Rick R Reed from Ninestar Press via NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review.

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