Book Reviews

Billy's Bones by Jamie Fessenden

Genre Gay / Contemporary / Romance / Mystery/Suspense/Thriller / Drama
Reviewed by Lena Grey on 09-April-2021

Book Blurb

Kevin Derocher was thirty-two when he walked into Tom's office, newly married, a baby on the way, and the collar of his red flannel shirt pulled up to hide the bruises around his throat from when he hanged himself in his garage. After the initial consult, therapist Tom Langois believes he'll never see Kevin again—until Kevin turns up three years later to make repairs on Tom's new house.

They become fast friends, and Tom suspects Kevin may be interested in more than friendship. However, Kevin remains haunted by something from his childhood—something so terrible he's blocked it from his mind. These suppressed memories make it impossible for Kevin to get close to anyone without panicking and lashing out, sometimes violently.

As his past begins to surface, it becomes clear Kevin may hold the key to a twenty-five-year-old mystery: what happened to Billy?



First edition published by Dreamspinner Press, July 2013.


Book Review

Repressed memories are the mind's attempt to protect itself from something that is too horrible to remember. Sometimes, if they aren't causing problems, they are best left alone. But other times, if not dealt with, can completely ruin a person's life, making them a slave to uncontrolled emotions and actions, giving them little hope of maintaining a normal existence. In 'Billy's Bones' by Jamie Fessenden, Kevin Derocher has secrets so awful, so deeply hidden that even he can't remember them. If he doesn't discover what they are, he has little hope of ever being free from their bondage.

Tom's presence is soothing from the start, but then he is a counselor and trained to help. That works for and against him in his relationship with Kevin. He recognizes the symptoms of abuse early on and is more understanding that most people would be. Tom is patient with Kevin, for the most part, and although deplorable at times, accepts his idiosyncrasies like wanting to take off his clothes off all the time or having violent anxiety attacks. Tom recognizes that the totally disorganized, filthy environment Kevin lives in is a reflection of his current mental state. Tom loves Kevin and wants to help, but it's hard for him to refrain from analyzing his behavior and acting like a mother hen; this irks Kevin to no end. Their relationship is odd, intense, loving, and sometimes dangerous, but fate has brought them together and they feel compelled to see it through. Even though Tom knows that it's Kevin who has to do the work, it's difficult for him to stand by and see his errant behavior and feel the pain he's obviously in. As he and Kevin get closer, Tom becomes impatient and can't resist meddling; Kevin has had it, blows up, and leaves. Tom, who is usually in a position of superiority, falls completely apart. He misses Kevin with a longing that is more intense than anything he's ever felt before. It's an extremely stressful and humbling time for Tom and he's at a loss as to what to do except to beg Kevin to come back to him.

Kevin is a grown man with a small, frightened child inside. He doesn't understand why he does what he does because he's repressed the memories of his abuse. When he runs into the triggers which remind him of these memories, it sets off his anxiety, fear, anger, etc., but he has no more clue than anyone else why. Kevin hardly remembers being a child at all, but has what seems to be an unreasonable hate for the house he grew up in and for his parents. It's one step forward and two back for Kevin for a while. Despite all of this, he loves Tom and tries, as much as he's able, to show him how he feels, but Kevin is a walking contradiction. Even though Tom can't touch him, Kevin runs around naked all the time and wants to sleep in Tom's bed with him. Kevin isn't being insensitive when he acts like a lover one minute, then a friend the next, dismaying Tom to distraction. He honestly doesn't know there's a difference. When the tables are turned, and Tom calls him in a drunken stupor declaring his love and desperate need for Kevin for him and their dog, Shadow, Kevin relents and goes back to them with a single rose in hand. This thoughtfulness touches Tom's heart almost to bursting. Oddly enough, Kevin picks up just where they left off as if he'd never been gone.

The effort it must have taken to create a tale of this depth is mind-boggling, not to mention the amount of research needed, but Jamie accomplished it with aplomb. What could have been a dark, depressing book, because of its disturbing subject matter, isn't that at all, because Tom and Kevin's romance, even though rocky at times, has many sweet and romantic moments which makes their relationship the focal point on the story, lightening the tone considerably. Their love, so troubled, yet so intense, burns through the negativity and pain and puts emphasis on that which is beautiful and positive. This story is going to stay with me for a long time.

I recommend it to anyone who may appreciate a well-written murder mystery which also tackles the troublesome subjects of child abuse and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. It's one that will keep you guessing until the end. Thank you, Jamie, for this thought provoking drama.





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Additional Information

Format ebook and print
Length Novel, 256 pages
Heat Level
Publication Date 29-September-2020
Price $2.99 ebook, $8.75 paperback
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