Bender by Gene Gant
Published by: Harmony Ink Press on June 16, 2016
Rating: 4 stars (★★★★☆)
College freshman Mace Danner works his way through college as an escort for a specific clientele. He seeks out those interested in domination and pain. He doesn’t experience sexual urges, so it’s not about sex for him. It’s about the punishment he feels he deserves for causing his brother’s death. And though he knows it’s a dangerous coping mechanism, he feels it works for him as he keeps everyone who expresses any care or kindness at a comfortable distance.
After a job goes wrong, Mace loses the bit of control he still held on his life. Mace’s resident advisor, Dex, notices this and won’t let Mace push him away. He’s determined to help. Of course, until Mace is willing to allow someone to help him, things aren’t really going to change. And his dangerous course could prove to be deadly before too long…
This is an intense story. It’s not long, and there is a lot that happens here. And some of the subjects that come up are difficult. This is definitely not something I expected from this particular imprint, but I think it’s an important story to tell. The issues here–guilt, self worth, assault, self-destructive behavior, asexuality–are things that the mainstream wants to shy away from. And it’s important that we don’t do that.
I’m not sure I’d necessarily call this young adult (which is what Harmony Ink tends to be), but certainly new adult or maybe an older young adult, just due to the intensity of the subject matter.
Content warnings: sexual assault[Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.]