Jamie Fessenden has a brand new work out today. Titled “Violated”, it delves deep into the psyche of a man who has been wounded by abuse, and how he heals afterward.
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. As if the humiliation of working under his attacker every day isn’t enough, Victor reports Derek for sexual harassment. Now he’s without a job, without a boyfriend, and the mortgage on the cabin is due.
Delving Into Male-Male Sexual Abuse
It was a difficult book for Fessenden to write – very different from some of the happier romances we’ve enjoyed from Fessenden, like “Saturn in Retrograde.” The author talks a little about the research process:
“A lot of us have heard the 1 in 6 statistic for how many men have reported being raped or sexually assaulted. During my research, I discovered — sadly — that that number is very conservative. In a recent study (2013) of 40,000 households where a sexual assault was reported, it turned out that 38 percent of the victims were men. That blew my mind (and not in a good way). We’re starting to see more accurate numbers, I think, because both men and women are growing more likely to report it. Though it’s still something many people consider shameful and humiliating, so they try to hide it.”
A Man is Not His Abuse
But the book is not all doom and gloom. Fessenden shows the whole character – and the book has lighter moments too that are trademark Fessenden. This one takes place while Derek and Russ are still seeing other people, and the possibility of them being a couple doesn’t yet exist:
[Russ] decided to change the subject for now. “I have the day off,” he said. “I wanted some downtime at home before going back to work. Would you like some help getting your shit dried out and dealt with?”
Derek made a sour face. “Sure, that would be awesome.” He sipped his coffee and then licked his lips before asking, “So… just where did you go for your vacation?”
“Um… a clothing-optional gay bed and breakfast.” Then he hid his eyes behind his hand and added quickly, “Don’t judge.”
Derek laughed, which was nice to hear. “Oh, really?”
“It was actually very nice.”
“I’m sure it was.”
“Stop smirking at me.”
Derek made a show of wiping his smile off his face, but that just made Russ laugh.
“Look,” Russ said, “I just wanted to try something new. My dating track record the past few years has been shit. Did I tell you Ian got back together with his ex?”
“You said something about him wanting a threesome.”
“Yeah.” Russ shrugged. “I mean… I won’t lie. The thought of it did kind of turn me on. But after it was over, he would have crawled into bed with his boyfriend while I got dressed and drove home alone. How depressing is that?”
Derek smiled, but then he looked directly into Russ’s eyes as he asked, “What if you’d been the one crawling into bed with your boyfriend, and someone else was driving home? Would you want that?”
Russ knew what he was asking. If we were dating, would you want to have threesomes then? The answer was easy. “No,” he said. “It might be hot, but it would fuck with my head. I don’t want to watch the man I love make love to someone else.”
“Neither would I.”
The look they exchanged was intense. Derek’s eyes seemed to be burning into him, suggesting the possibility of something Russ had been carefully avoiding thinking about ever since that day they’d first met on the deck.
Finding the Perfect Setting
Fessenden also talks a little about his inspiration for the setting of much of the novel:
“When I was a kid, my parents used to take us to a friend’s cabin on one of the many lakes in northern New Hampshire. I remember this being very peaceful and idyllic, which is why I chose this as the primary setting for the novel. The lake cabin symbolizes Derek’s safe retreat from the harsh realities at his work and condo… at least, for a while.”
The Reviews Are Coming In
B.A. Brock reviewed the book and got right to the heart of what it’s all about:
“This was a fantastic read, dark and thrilling, but also sweet and hopeful. My heart clenched for Derek. It was agonizing to watch his entire world fall apart, but also inspiring to watch him build it back up again. There was just enough inner dialog and detail to follow what he was going through, and enough room for me to use my imagination to sink deeper into the characters… I recognize the darkness in this novel. Many only read to feel good, and can I understand that. But I want to experience everything when I read: joy, heartache, laughter, arousal, fear, thrills—I want to live as someone else, escape myself for a time. Fessenden’s novel will take you into the depths of yourself, but you’ll be okay, because ultimately this is a story of hope, and there can be no light without the dark.”
Get It Now. Seriously.
This is an important, groundbreaking book in Fessenden’s writing career. I urge you to pick up a copy today – you won’t regret it.