REVIEW: Damaged and the Bulldog by Bijou Hunter
Dear Ms. Hunter:
I’d classify you within the underrated self published authors although the books I’ve read are in need of a good copyeditor.
Most of the Damaged series follows the same trope. A young woman who was abused, physically and sexually, finds love and acceptance with (generally) an equally screwed up young man.
The reason that most of the stories have worked for me is that the abuse isn’t merely a backstory trope to provide angst, but it’s treated as a real and tragic occurrence that has long lasting effects. The darkness of the storyline is offset by the often ribald humor of the women who provide a great deal of emotional support for each other.
Winona Todds was taken by a motorcycle gang when she was a girl and used in a horrific fashion. She is rescued by a local MC and fostered and then adopted by a local pastor. There are a few scenes that allude to what she suffered and for those that find these scenes triggering, I’d stay away. Even the brief descriptions were stomach churning. She was on the verge of taking a chance on Dylan Campbell when she was kidnapped by a gang. Even though she was rescued, in part by her foster sister and in part by Dylan Campbell, the event was enough to trigger a retreat.
Winona wants to love and she wants to have what she deems a normal relationship but what she wants doesn’t align with what she can handle. She goes to therapy regularly but as much as she wants to be with Dylan, the mere holding of his hand can be traumatic for her.
The story is told from Winona’s POV and Dylan’s. Winona is this sweetheart of a girl who dreams of simple things. To sleep through the night without a bad dream. To go through the day without too many bruises on her arms where she pinches herself whenever she is afraid or stressed. To be able to hug and kiss Dylan and be with him as a woman would be with a man.
For Dylan’s part, he wants Winona. His parents never loved him but Dylan’s motto is “can’t complain.” He wasn’t beaten. He had money, food, shelter, and access to things and when he compares his life to say, Winona, he can’t find any reason why he’s an asshole. (He says he’s an asshole but the reader only ever sees him being kind and patient so I just took his word for it). He believes that Winona is his slice of heaven and even when she’s faced with his worst traits, she loves him.
While Winnie’s growth in this book may come off as too fast paced, particularly in the bedroom, I found myself dreading another set back toward the end so perhaps it was just the right pace for the reader if it didn’t really mesh with reality. Although, I would guess that for all sufferers, the pace of recovery varies.
The storylines wouldn’t work for me if they weren’t liberally sprinkled with humor and the characters feel very genuine. There’s a lot of female camaraderie in the stories as well as between existing couples.
Raven and Vaughn turned around to show off the back of the shirts which read “Big V” and “Better V.”
“You two are such dorks that I am embarrassed to be friends with you,” Bailey said, settling back on Nick’s lap. “Hey, should we get dork shirts too, now that we’re in love and everything?”
Nick gave her a great smile. “Our love transcends stupid shirts.”
“Watch it, Dragon,” Vaughn said, walking towards the lanes. “I’ve kicked asses for dumber reasons than mocking my shirts.”
Winnie’s healing isn’t at the hands of Dylan but really in her own control. He’s there to help her and serve her in any way that he can. There’s a sweetness and tenderness to the romance that I love. Although I should mention that there is violence on page at the end of the story when Dylan is given the opportunity to be part of the local MC (the one that saved Winnie)
I get that these stories aren’t for everyone and I can’t read a steady diet of them, but the writing voice is appealing. B-