Title: Voice for the Silent
Author: T. A. Chase
Publisher: Pride Publishing
Buy link: Amazon.com (Second Edition)
Genre: Contemporary m/m
Length: Novel (154 pages)
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
A Guest Review by Feliz
Summary Review: Although the love story was endearing, this story dealt with its serious topics in a way that ultimately made it more a manifesto against animal and child abuse than a romance novel.
The Blurb: Investigating and busting dog-fighting rings is what police officer Julio Herendez lives to do. Defending the innocent and vulnerable from monsters makes his day. So when he meets Paine “BB” Addison, Julio finds himself wanting to save the abused young man from the cruel world he’s also been forced to survive.
Paine exists in an environment where the weak and innocent are exploited for entertainment. The men who use him for their perverted pleasure and fight the dogs don’t care about the physical or emotional damage they inflict upon their victims, both animal and human. Paine lives from day to day, doing what he can to heal the wounds suffered by others, but unable to help or heal himself.
When Julio and Paine meet, it triggers a chain of events that rocks both their worlds to the foundations. But can they also bring justice for the silent victims?
The Review: Paine “BB” Addison had a hard life from the start. When he was only two days old, his drug-addicted mother disappeared, never to be seen again, and left him with his alcoholic, uncaring aunt. Paine’s uncle holds dogfights, cooks meth and prostitutes not only Paine, but also his underage daughters, Paine’s cousins, to every man who’s willing to pay for them. Paine’s only friends are the dogs which he suffers with through every fight and patches up afterwards, unable to save them when his uncle decides they’re beyond healing and have to be killed. Thus Paine vegetates from day to day, too busy surviving to have time for anything else.
Enter Julio Herendez, former cop and now an officer with the Humane Society. Undercover as drug dealer “Juke”, he attends the dogfights held byPaine’s uncle in order to collect evidence against the man. He has seen Paine from afar but never taken much note of the young man.
Finally Julio has gathered enough evidence, and his department is ready to bust Uncle Cesar’s dogfighting ring. On that day, while the bust is already rolling, Julio happens across Paine who just tries to sneak away a badly wounded dog in order to save the animal from his uncle’s deadly claws. Without a second thought, Juli0 reaches out to help, which results in both the dog and Paine ending up in the shelter of Julio’s house. Not much later, Paine’s horribly abused cousins join them there.
Beautiful, troubled Paine, who not only bears up to the shadows of his past but also takes on the responsibility for his young cousins, trying to help them to the best of his ability, pushes all of Julio’s buttons. But Julio can’t give in to the growing attraction, which to his delight he has reason to believe is mutual. Julio can’t know if Paine only turns to him out of gratitude, and he has to bear the case in mind, which he won’t let go to waste because he has slept with a witness. Paine, on the other hand, also feels himself drawn to Julio, but although he slowly comes to trust his savior, he is to scared to act out his feelings. After all, he has never experienced love, how can he know if he loves Julio? And he has his cousins to care for, who he is determined never to abandon again. How can he burden all that baggage on the only man who has ever been friendly to him?
Paine was supposed to be a twenty-one year old man, but most of the time he didn’t act his age. Yet, given his horrible childhood, I found him totally believable when he acted and thought child-like one moment and precociously mature the next. He was heartbreakingly brave and a fighter who only needed a tiny little bit of support in order to man up, very likeable and worth admiring. Paine’s cousins were well-drawn too: strong-willed survivor Katie, who deals with her past by bristling at everybody, and muted, shell-shocked Betsy, withdrawn into her own world of brokenness.
Julio, on the other hand – that man is simply too good to be true. He has dedicated his life to the noble cause of defending innocent victims, and since animals are the most innocent of all, he has dedicated his life to them. Working for the Humane Society, he has truely become a voice for the silent, and it fits his personality that he goes out of his way to help Paine and the girls, who are innocent, silenced victims too. Apparently, he’s made it his business to collect strays, the human and the non-human kind. I bought that, and also Julio’s taking a stand for the fighting dogs in order to have them examined by experts instead of having them put down on the prejudice that fighting dogs can’t be rehabilitated. But it went on and on along the same line, and his halo never slipped. Julio showed almost superhuman understanding for the girl’s troubles, never once made a mistake with them, never once lost his patience, not even secretly, in his own thoughts. Same with Paine, whom he managed to assure of his loving support without ever disappointing him, always giving the younger man space and genuine affection alike, letting Paine call the shots, letting Paine decide if and when they’d consume their affection. It speaks for the author’s writing skill that I was willing to buy into Julio’s goodness since it fit him and was exactly what Paine and the girls needed from him, but I lost my patience when, close to the end, Julio thought about leaving his own house and giving it to the Addison kids in order to make sure Paine could get custody of his cousins. No man is that good.
This story dealt with animal abuse, child abuse, neglect, rape, violence, drug trade. A book which makes such serious issues its subject matter is entitled considerable drama. Here, though, the black and white was overdone, as far as I’m concerned. Personally, I couldn’t agree more that there’s hardly anything worse than child-abuse, and that people can’t go any lower than tormenting defenseless animals, but I got the message around the third mentioning, and grew impatient to the point of annoyance after the tenth or so time. Serious matters deserve serious consideration, even in a romance novel, but the story could have made its point without hammering it in the way it did. But, this is only my personal opinion, others may feel differently. Fans of the author may consider this story nevertheless, since it is, after all, smoothly written and a sweet love story.