Review: Irreparable Damage

Friday, 15 July 2016
Irreparable Damage Irreparable Damage by Sam Mariano
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Obvious triggers aside, this was an enjoyable book with a serious and questioning story held within it. I know some people will baulk at the prospect of rape and cheating but these are small facets to a story with a strong psychological undercurrent.

Kidnapped and raped by a man reluctant to go through with the act, 18 year old virgin, Willow, now freed faces a recovery from her traumatic experience with unexpected challenges. Ethan, an undercover PI, infiltrated a group, responsible for kidnapping women and children, when he comes across Willow. Not the girl he was sent in to free but another victim he was aware about, Ethan decides to break both girls out. Unfortunately for Ethan, the kidnappers start to become suspicious and tell him to rape Willow. Torn with blowing his cover, getting himself killed and being able to safely free the girls, Ethan agrees to take Willow but the prospect horrifies him, especially being a married man with children of his own. He tries to detach himself from the scene but is unable to do so especially when he realises he has taken Willow’s virginity. Afterwards, Willow sees something in Ethan that she doesn't expect and that's remorse. As a result, she doesn't disclose her rape to her family or the authorities. Both distraught by the act, Willow and Ethan struggle to come to terms with what they shared. Willow starts to build an attraction to Ethan through her dreams and Ethan can't forget the girl whose innocence he stole.

After being brought together, innocently, by Willow’s mothers, the two start to open up to each other and Willow finds a peace she is unable to reach without the help of a counsellor. Texting soon becomes face to face meetings and Willow shares with Ethan that she fears she will never trust anyone again. Ethan is heartbroken that his actions have brought about this change in Willow and despite seeing her many male admirers via her social media accounts, finds himself wanting her to spend time with him.

It begs the question: how would you replace an unpleasant and painful experience and the conclusion they both reach is to repeat the scene, albeit with consent this time. Ethan convinces Willow that she can trust him and if she says no he will stop his actions immediately. Deciding to try his suggestion out, Willow and Ethan meet and soon find their bodies reacting in a positive way to each other's ministrations. Ethan is torn over hurting his family and helping Willow, and himself, to overcome their memories and sees his connection with Willow as a separate part of his life. Willow knows she can never have Ethan as her own, aside from the fact his is married he is also a lot older than her, and so takes whatever he can offer her.

Willow sees Ethan initially as the person who can overwrite bad with good but it's not long before their feelings grow into something neither can explain. Trying to end their unhealthy connection, they are thrust back together with Willow’s father finds video evidence of her attack and sets off to punish Ethan, and his family. But it's Willow who saves the day when Ethan knows that in order to save his wife and family, they must admit to the feelings they have for one another.

This was definitely a book which had my mind whirling throughout. Despite by raped by Ethan I can appreciate Willow’s subsequent connection to him. I can also appreciate Ethan struggling to continue with his life as he knows it. This book is certainly not just about rape or cheating, it's about so much more. The rape is handled sensitively and is not overly embellished. It's merely the starting point of Willow and Ethan's story. How they handle the aftermath is where this story focuses its attention. It's also not a story just about cheating, although it does clearly take place. With so many facets to focus on in this story, most of which are hidden in your own mind, the story pulls you along and makes you question right from wrong.

I was a little stunned by the ending of this book as I wasn't expecting there to be a cliffie but that was my fault for not realising that the next book is due to be released shortly. Overall I enjoyed the book but it lacked some depth at times. Characters could have benefitted from more insight into their minds and daily lives. For some reason I didn't feel that I knew or had connected with the characters by the end of the story. The Mafia connection, which initially attracted me to this story, didn't materialise apart from the brief scene with Willow’s father so hopefully that will pick up in the next book.

So, if you love books which make you question right from wrong then this is definitely a story for you. It is also a tender love story, despite how Willow and Ethan's story starts out. Willow comes across much older than her years and it's that maturity and level headedness which draws Ethan to her. I can't wait to see where their story takes them to next.

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