Trust Trade (Steph’s Review)

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Title: Trust Trade (Gem City Grit #1)
Author: Ki Brightly
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: January 27, 2017
Genre(s): Contemporary Romance
Page Count: 340
Reviewed by: Steph
Heat Level: 3.5 flames out of 5
Rating: 3.88 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.

Please note this book has the following triggers: Noncon, dubcon, incest and a brief mention of drugs. In addition, there is: sexual, physical, psychological, verbal and emotional abuse.

Okay, so I’m hoping nobody calls me heartless after reading my review, and on that note here we go. To start off, I enjoy reading books that are darker. I think it is due to the emotional roller coaster/edge of the seat feeling they have on me. However, I felt that the author failed to establish an emotional connection between the story and the reader; meaning I was not emotionally invested. Please don’t get me wrong, this is a well-written and very detailed story, which I did enjoy. However I did not love it.

What I did like was the down-to-earth feel, which made the budding relationship between Jeb and Freddy and everything that went with it feel more realistic. Oh, and dare I forget about the suspense that the author puts the reader through. Wondering when Jeb’s pimp, Wally, would come back into the picture to seek retribution. Yet, when it did happen it felt too small for what it was, like is should have been more intense. Then there is Nolan. For what the man was and how he treated Jeb for four years, I really was waiting for him to say, “just kidding” when they did finally part ways. Then when everything went south with Max, Nolan’s son and Jeb’s stepson, I really was waiting for the ‘we are fucked’ moment. And when it did happen, the author delivered.

In the end, Jeb and Freddy get their HFN, which was best given their situation. However, the author left me wondering if Jeb ended up going back to college and if Max continued with his online high school.

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Galley copy of Trust Trade (Gem City Grit #1) provided by Dreamspinner Press in exchange of an honest review.


I love reading books about boys who love other boys <3. Sometimes there is a HEA or HFN, but sometimes it just is. Yes, I love all outcomes even it is not what I hoped for. We all need a good cry from time to time. As you can probably can tell, I love cliffhangers as well. Yeah, I am one of those people :) I read a variety of genres, whether it is dark/taboo, historical, shifters, GFY, SciFi, mysteries/thrillers; I love it all.

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