After four tours in Afghanistan, Warren Groves couldn’t settle into civilian life. For the last twelve years, he’s survived by working odd and often illegal jobs for some of Denver’s less fortunate. His personal life is equally unsatisfactory. He can barely remember the last time he had sex, let alone the last time he got to use somebody hard and rough, the way he likes. Fate intervenes when a favor for a friend leads him to a pretty young rentboy named Taylor Reynolds.
Taylor’s spent the last few years on his own, working as a hustler, going home with anybody who’ll give him a warm meal and a place to sleep. He enjoys having a bit of force used against him, and he makes Warren an offer he can’t refuse — all the sex he wants, as rough and dirty as he likes, in exchange for room and board.
At first, Warren thinks he’s struck gold. Taylor’s the perfect roommate — he cooks, he cleans, and he’s dynamite in the sack. But Taylor has some dark demons in his head and some even darker cravings. Falling for somebody as volatile as Taylor is dangerous enough, but when Taylor’s urges turn truly self-destructive, it’ll be up to Warren to decide just how far to let things go.
“Never let the sadness of your past or your fear of the future distract you from the joy of the present.”
It's tough watching someone you care about (a parent, a friend) stay with an abusive partner because of fear or some twisted belief that they love the abuser or that the abuser loves them. But what about when your partner will do absolutely anything to get you to abuse them because they think it's what they deserve? One Man's Trash is, undoubtedly one of the most fucked up books I've ever read. Did I like it? Sort of. It's complicated.
There was so much in One Man's Trash that pushed right on past my boundaries and went into previously uncharted territories (for me). I cringed and practically read through my fingers during parts of the book because I didn't want to miss part of what made the story so intense, but I can't say I enjoyed those parts, either. At all. Taylor had no self-worth. None. And I could not help but feel pity. And Warren, being who he is, only wanted for Taylor to see himself like Warren saw him.
“It’s a Japanese thing. They think when an item’s broken, it doesn’t make it useless. It just adds interest. Becomes part of the item’s history. And its history is what makes it beautiful.”
Taylor is one of the most messed up characters I've encountered in a book - and that says more than you might think. Of any MC I can recall, Taylor needs far more therapy than most of them. But just like anything, it's something he has to want.
And Warren, well, he's pretty messed up, too, but in very different ways. Between growing up in a house where his mother stayed with his abusive father and the few tours in Afghanistan when he was in the military, where he was lucky to come back alive, Warren does the best he can to get through his days. He's a bit of a white knight, too. He might skirt what legal, a bit too closely, when it comes to how he makes a living, but he's a protector and he has integrity.
Warren and Taylor are quite the broken pair. Oddly, though, I do think they were good for each other in many ways. Taylor has Warren to make sure he doesn't go too far off the rails and Warren needs to be needed, so while it's an odd sort of relationship, it does seem to work for them.
"Somebody once told me it isn’t enough to slay your demons. You gotta dissect those bastards. Cut open their bellies and see what they’ve been feeding on. Then you’ll know the real problem.”
There's a fuck ton of angst in this book, right up until the end and the HEA is well fought. I'm still trying to figure out if I liked the story, though. I mean...yeah, it's complicated. One thing I can say for sure is that I love Marie Sexton's writing. It's always compelling and I've yet to find myself unable to get lost in one of her stories. That was certainly true, here, so I'm calling it a win.
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