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 was my first time reading this author and it was a toughie. 'Trust Trade' started out on a very stark and gut wrenching note as we are instantly thrown into Jeb's life, as he runs from what could easily be certain death.
Jeb's life is a daily struggle filled with heartbreak and disappointments. For him a good day is any day that he survives in tact and sadly Jeb's story is out there. It's in every city and on any street corner. It's parents who give unconditional love with too many conditions, it's a world ruled by isolation and fear a world that no child should know and to many live in.
Jeb didn't start life deaf and he's fought hard to survive the only way he knows how...by using his body. It's Jeb's latest client who no longer wants him because of his age who ironically not only makes him face the fact that he needs to find another way to survive if he wants to keep living but also provides him with the means to do so. Jeb strikes a deal with the devil but he's determined to make sure that this deal sees him on the winning side and he's working hard to improve his situation when he meets Freddy.
Freddy's life has been very different from Jeb's. Freddy's fortunate and while he knows this he really has no idea just how fortunate he truly is. He's got awesome parents who want the best for him and love him with all their hearts. He's in his last year of college when he spots Jeb in the campus bookstore and suddenly he's wanting to leave with more than books in his arms. It's not love at first sight but Freddy has little doubt that if he has his way he'll be signing up for a course in Jeb 101 before he's done. Freddy's not bothered by the fact that Jeb's deaf he grew up with deaf parents he can sign he knows how to communicate with the deaf community and Jeb being deaf turns out to be the least of their problems.
Overall I really enjoyed this story. While there was a lot of heartache and more than one stressful moment there were also moments that were warm and sweet and made me smile. I liked the way the romance between Freddy and Jeb developed. Neither of these young men were perfect and that was as it should be. They're young they've never been in love before and given their circumstances I would have found it hard to believe that they got through everything without a disagreement, conflict or a screw-up by somebody somewhere along the way that's just not realistic.
Unfortunately there were also certain things that just didn't work for me and no matter how hard I tried I just couldn't buy into them. Things like the circumstances of Jeb's mom. I'm not going to give away any details here but I just didn't buy into it and the resolution was too easily achieved, Also there was the situation with Officer Kare, yep, that was his name 'Care' only with a 'K' honestly it should have been 'TSTL' because he was. This character just did not work for me at all.
At nearly 400 pages I have to admit while I found this story to be long in hindsight I'm not sure that it could have been told with less detail and remained as impactful as it was. So at the end of it all for me there was far more to like than not. The issues tackled in 'Trust Trade' were both relevant, current and there are more than a few triggers touched upon in the telling of Jeb and Freddy's story...topics such as pedophilia, rape, incest, physical and mental abuse and prostitution were addressed in this story and while some were dealt with more graphically than others these issues were all clearly present.
'Trust Trade' was neither a light nor fluffy story but it was a story about starting over, finding love and learning to believe in yourself and others.
********************An ARC of "Trust Trade' was graciously provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
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