Publication Date: September 13, 2016
Length: 438 pages
Reviewed by Meredith
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.
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When SCOTUS ruled that marriage equality was the law of the land last year, the book shelves flooded with gorgeous same sex romances. Men marrying men. Women marrying women. Love. Pure, amazing, rainbow love. And I adored it, I did. But I kept thinking, “There’s no way this is the end. There’s no way this ruling will end discrimination.” I found it hard to accept all the hearts and flowers. Because though that wonderful day, June 26, 2015, brought laughter and smiles and legal acceptance. It did not end for everyone.
Defenseless by AJ Rose is kind of the book I’ve been waiting for. It shows another side of that ruling. Reviewing this without spoilers is hard but I’m going to do it. This is a book built on emotions. Yes. Emotions. Because it’s the emotions we feel that make us react how we do. The origin of them aren’t always clear or righteous. They just are.
We start with Jesse and Kyle moving in together, Pre SCOTUS. It’s actually a good while before. Kyle is closeted from his family but Jesse is not. The dream to feel that blissful freedom to love is thick through the entire book. When you read a story knowing the equality will come you want to jump in and say, “Hang in there buddies. It’s gonna happen.” But Jesse and Kyle don’t know this.
They have a good life. Jesse’s friends are A-MAZ-ING! Seriously the greatest people I think. I’ll tell you my favorite secondary character in a minute.
Anyway, we follow Kyle and Jesse as a couple. Living life and truly loving each other hard. It is really beautiful. Kyle does come out to his family and it goes meh. Bobby, Kyle’s brother shocked me and yes HE is my favorite secondary character in this story.
And then the ruling. PRIDE right after the ruling was fierce everywhere and Kyle and Jesse go to BOYSTOWN with Jesse’s friends and it’s just a burst of amazing. But this is where reality hits. Literally.
While Jesse and Kyle are waiting for their UBER to arrive they are brutally beaten. 4 against 2. Jesse gets the worst physically and if it wasn’t for witnesses I really think Jesse may have died.
The remainder of the book is not just recovery and healing. It’s justice. And even though SCOTUS made that ruling this really shows it’s not accepted by everyone just because a judge said so.
Kyle’s parents turn their back on him... mainly his dad. Jesse is bitter and angry. The lies, the pain. They practically fall apart.
All because of emotions and a moment of hate and fear.
Defenseless shows the process through all of it with penetrating feeling and understanding. I think this book is enlightening. Because it really shows that it wasn’t all flash mob engagements, courthouse crowdings to get hitched. There were same sex couples who faced horrible prejudice. Who face it now. And we, as a society, need to remember that. To be aware of that. It’s vital.
I give AJ Rose a lot of props for writing this book that is enlightening, inspiring, and the bravest book I’ve read all year without question.
This is a ground breaking novel absolutely! A must read by all.
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