Rating: 4.25 stars
Detroit handyman Derrick Chance and his lover, Gavin Hayes’ relationship has come a long way since they first met but many obstacles loom on the horizon, each with the power to destroy what they have built and split them apart for good. Gavin is still waiting for the results of his HIV test since he learned that his ex boyfriend may have given him the disease during one forced encounter between them. Derrick is facing not only moving from the only home he has ever known but he has been outed to his local hockey team and someone is sending him threatening messages.
Already full of self doubt, Gavin’s insecurities bloom and his self worth plunges when his ex, Lukas, returns and wants to involve Gavin in his rehabilitation to Derrick’s consternation. And the biggest issue? Although Derrick has professed his love, Gavin has held back his declaration. So many issues and the holidays are just around the corner. Can Derrick and Gavin let go of their respective pasts and move forward into their future? Or will the past continue its hold and break them apart forever?
I am going to presume this is the last book in the Impulse series by Amelia C. Gormley and I think this is a wonderful way to see Derrick and Gavin out. I did have a few issues with this book but those will be addressed last. One constant in this series has been the wonderful characterizations the author brought to her stories. From the moment we meet lonely Derrick Chance we realize that there is something very special about him. Traumatic circumstances came together at a developmentally important stage of his young life that helped to isolate this man from the normal societal milestones. Derrick was left to the care of aging grandparents who later passed away leaving him alone in their house, earning his living by repairing appliances as out of date as he is and doing minor house repairs for neighbors close by. Here is a man caught in stasis and the author makes him not only relatable but endearing in his way.
Gavin is almost his opposite. Experienced sexually and socially for all it did him, Gavin’s self image has been battered by an abusive ex to the point that he trusts no one, with the exception of one friend. And for two books we have watched Gormley slowly bring these two men with their divergent backgrounds together in a way that has seemed not only realistic but true to the core of her characters personalities. And while most of the battles fought were internal, the last book Acceleration ended with problems from the outside of the relationship starting to press in on the couple.
There are several main issues at work here and Gormley treats them all with sensitivity and compassion, from homophobia to conveying accurate knowledge and clinical histories of HIV and domestic violence . First there is the problem of homophobia rearing its ugly head at Derrick’s local hockey team. Now out to his teammates, someone within the team has been threatening Derrick, demanding he quit or suffer the consequences, following that up with destruction of personal property and more. I loved the way the author dealt with this issue as she went in a direction different from most authors. Given that homosexuality and sports are in the headlines these days, the manner in which this was resolved felt authentic and timely.
Secondly, there is the subject of domestic violence and awareness of the victim mentality that those who have been subjected to DV carry within themselves. This accounts for a larger portion of the story and again Gormley has done her homework, putting forth not only how domestic violence affects its victims but how it can manifest itself in their behavior and reactions to others. Much of the information is imparted between conversations with Gavin and Hannah,a victim, as she relates her circumstances and following actions. I applaud the author’s efforts to get this information accurate and out there but unfortunately, this element of the story came across as more of a information dump. Also, Gavin’s interactions with his ex Lukas are drawn out too far. He knows that Lukas is a liar and manipulator and yet he believes his story instead of Derrick’s? While it might not be implausible (yes, we get it, Gavin has a DV victim mentality), as he reverses himself immediately it just doesn’t ring true with coupled with his other actions.
What does seem real and gritty and painful are the emotions that roll through Gavin with regard to his possible HIV status, his wavering about the test results, and his confusion about his future. Gormley really seems to have a window into the thoughts processes of a person in this awful predicament and it comes across to the reader as painfully read in every aspect. Then you hook DV with the possibility of HIV and have the same individual responsible and yes, there is a very good reason that Gavin is an emotional mess.
Another element that surprised me was the depths of pain and humiliation that Gavin requires to be sexually satisfied. In one scene, Derrick supplies a huge amount of said bdsm elements to their sexual play without discussing it with Gavin first. No setting of safe words or limitations, just moving right into the scene without too much preparation. And this, I will admit, bothered me on a couple of levels. At this point, Gavin has not trusted himself to tell Derrick he loves him or trusts Derrick to go with him to get his test results. I had assumed, perhaps wrongly, that trust is a huge element in such sexual play and that if he did not trust Derrick in these other areas, than it must be lacking here too. But after such thought and discussions, I can see Gavin separating his trust issues into compartments and that trusting Derrick sexually (and physically) was different from trusting him with his love and HIV status. I just am not familiar enough with bdsm to be knowledgeable but it did bother me to a degree while I could still see why it was necessary to Gavin’s character.
There are some issues with editing, and I think that certainly some areas could have been streamlined and made more concise. But in the end, Velocity is a wonder of a book and a marvelous way to complete Derrick and Gavin’s journey to a full partnership and loving relationship. The ending was just perfection and it left me smiling long after I put down my Kindle. If this is your first time meeting Derrick and Gavin, go back to the beginning Inertia and see how it all began. Then proceed immediately to Acceleration as their relationship and events pick up speed and finally to Velocity where it all comes together with emotions on high. I really cannot recommend this series enough. Amelia C. Gormley is a amazing author and I cannot wait to see what she writes next.
Here are the books in the order they were written and should be read to understand the characters and their relationships:
Velocity (Impulse #3)
Cover art by Kerry Chin. I love these covers. They are lush and different and just amazing.