Title: Trust Trade (Gem City Grit #1)
Author: Ki Brightly
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: 27th Jan, 2017
Genre(s): Broken/Damaged Hero, Contemporary, Abuse, Healing
Page Count : 340
Reviewed by: PIU
Heat Level: 3.5 flames out of 5
Rating: 5 stars out of 5
Life hasn’t been good to Jeb Birchman. When he attempted to escape his abusive, zealot father, he found himself on the streets, making a living the only way he knew how, the victim of more violent men—one of whom orchestrates a series of vicious attacks that leave Jeb deaf. Now that he’s aged beyond his latest client’s interest, Jeb knows he needs to escape his risky lifestyle before it’s too late. Seeing one last chance for himself, he earns a GED and enrolls in college.
Freddy Williams enjoys a life that couldn’t be more different from what Jeb has survived. He loves sports, being a personal trainer, and hanging out with friends. The son of deaf parents, Freddy is an outspoken advocate of the Deaf community and works as an interpreter at his college. When he meets Jeb at the bookstore, he’s struck by how attractive he is, and as they get to know each other, he finds Jeb’s good heart just as appealing. By the time he learns of Jeb’s past, it’s only a few steps behind them, and Freddy must make a choice between school and his familiar routine and protecting the man he’s falling in love with.
This book gutted me!!! From the very start my heart was gouged out without mercy and as the story progressed and came to its conclusion, my bleeding heart was repaired and put back together with tons of bandages to make it whole again. I am in a serious funk after reading this book.
This read is not for the light of heart. It has pain, loads of it. I got overwhelmed throughout and my emotions were all over the place. This is a ‘broken/damaged hero’ romance and it was traumatic, heart-wrenching and equally sweet, powerful and healing.
There are lots of triggers here mainly: Child prostitution, pedophilia, rape, incest, physical abuse and mental trauma. So please proceed with caution.
Jeb Birchman’s past as a street hustler and as a houseboy for an abusive asshole does not extend in page for more than three chapters. So, there is very little ‘real-time’ trauma. Whatever we get are flashbacks and Jeb’s past experiences and it was so profound that you could feel the impact as if it’s happening in the present. The author never lets us forget the awful things that have happened to Jeb and how it has affected his psyche. You would continuously get the feeling of unfairness/wrongness on behalf of Jeb for the unbelievably shitty things he had to endure since he was just a boy. You cannot help but bleed for him. Despite of everything that happens to him, Jeb stands up for another abused character and he does a heck of job in protecting him and loving him throughout. Jeb is resilient, courageous and never lets anything break down his spirit. He endures blow after blow but he stands tall through it all (albeit on wobbly legs) with the help and support of his love.
Along with all the negative emotions there are tons and tons of positive/super-bright feels that melt turn your heart into goo and then start rebuilding it back up with tremendous amounts of hope and love.
Freddy Williams is the ultimate source of all things awesome in this read. He is super caring, loving, selfless, protective and a genuinely awesome human being. He is uber-compassionate towards everything in Jeb’s past or present and sticks with him no matter what. Every horrible thing that got thrown Jeb’s way, Freddy was there to shield it all. In one word he was: PERFECT (as much as a human could be!) He does have his fair share of doubts about Jeb and he does get pissed and anxious but he keeps fighting everything and everyone (even his parents) to have Jeb’s back. His brand of love was rare and precious. I loved him and respected him a whole lot more.
“Jeb, I’ll say it again. I’ll say it every day forever. I love you.”
The characters here were like real flesh and blood human beings to me. Everybody had a very important role to play in the story be it good or bad. The detailing of each character was just brilliant. All of them were slotted perfectly in the story.
This book is very painful and hard to read most of the time with lots of ups and downs, humongous doubts, pain and heartache. But the healing happens seamlessly along with the pain. The MCs fight their way fiercely through and every problem. The love had a very powerful presence even without vocalization of the ‘I love You’s but the main challenge was will it survive all the crazy. And I am happy to report that not only does it survive but also gets polished and nurtured to something dazzlingly beautiful. All the ugly Jeb and Freddy endure is tackled with a shit ton of love to be transformed into a glorious HEA just like a coal transforms into a diamond.
Brilliant storytelling, brilliant array of characters and heart wrenchingly beautiful plot made this book a 5+ star experience for me. Kudos to Ms. Brightly for creating such a powerful, raw and intense story about abuse and healing.