Monday, September 1, 2014

Lee Hayes - Passion Marks

Everything that looks good isn't good for you. From the outside, Kevin Davis' world leaves nothing to be desired. It is a life of luxury, comfort and money, but never judge a book by its cover. His pretend world hides the verbal, physical and sexual abuse he endures at the hands of his perfect man.
Passion Marks finds Kevin entangled in a dark web of love, violence, depravity and torment at the hands of his lover, James Lancaster, the ambitious CEO of a rising Houston software firm. In order to free himself from the cycle of violence, Kevin must overcome his personal demons. In this psychological battle of wills, who will be the ultimate victor?
Building to an unforgettable climax, and peopled by a cast of richly drawn characters- including Kevin's best girlfriend, Danea, and the mercilessly driven James- this is a powerhouse story of tough love from a supremely talented new author.

Comment: I got this book a long time ago for reasons I no longer remember. After all this time, it was a surprise to see it featured such a difficult theme. I guess the title can be deceiving. Despite this, I still kept reading because I was interested in seeing how the author would solve the issues he would be addressing...

This story is divided into two parts, and it follows the narration of Kevin and how he suffers domestic violence at the hands of his lover. Kevin not only is a victim, but he also feels guilt over his twin's death, he feels unworthy and useless and only his small group of friends is some help.
The story is set in the middle of an Afro-American community and it shows how someone lives and deals with a problem very hard to accept and run from...

Well, first of all, I have to say the domestic violence theme isn't easy and it takes a certain kind of knowledge to write about. Apparently the author did research this and used many situations where we can see the pattern of abuse, such as the behavior between abuse, where most victims end up saying it wasn't bad all the time. In this story we see that, although the bad things certainly take a heavier tone in the reader's eye.
One of the main issues with this theme is how the victims feel they deserve what happens and that abuse can be worse than any physical mistreat, because it takes longer to accept and heal. Int his aspect, I think the author knew what he was talking about and throughout the book we also see an increase of the problems in the couple's relationship and how that affects Kevin and his own behavior with those around him.

Now, for the things I didn't think were as easy to empathize with...for one, the people themselves. There was an obvious focus on the fact they were mostly Black characters which isn't a problem and wouldn't have bothered me at all, except the use of words like "nigga" and "bro" which happened quite often and distracted me from the story itself. It's not a issue per se, but it was there and hard to ignore. I guess it was harder for me to imagine them because it felt like there was a goal here and I was missing it. The character's traits were believable but those words certainly took out the imagination out of it, it seemed over the top, but I assume it's close to real life.

The other issue I found with this story was the resolution. Kevin takes a leap from that destructive relationship and I thought he would take time to be himself but despite those words being said and mentioned by Kevin at some point, the truth is he jumps into another relationship pretty soon afterwards and somehow that doesn't feel very realistic for someone who suffered abuse for so long. Maybe it's more personal than I think, but I had the idea anyone would want to heal, to be alone and have time to process and deal with inner issues before going into another relationship, even if the new person is totally different and good for them. Maybe it's my own preconceived ideas about it, I don't know...

Closer to the end of the story, the problems reach a stage of destructive behavior and the last scenes are a bit unlikely, but who knows, maybe it happens more than we know, I mean the type of violence with so many witnesses. The very end was a bit too much, because the epilogue seemed to be there only to give the idea money isn't everything but I think that message was done already and a repetition wasn't needed.

All things considered, the several situations Kevin sees himself involved with are complicated and I think they would affect him even more, so, it felt like a HEA was needed but I guess another type of solution would also be good for them and perhaps even more believable. 
After all this, I think there was a lot to be polished and in some parts I felt a bit too distant from the character's struggles and that kind of made me not enjoy this as much, especially because it's a theme that moves people and makes us want to see justice and fairness.
Grade: 5/10

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