Thursday, February 15, 2018

Flashback Review: Bad Reputation by Ajax Bell


Does Seattle give a damn about his past reputation?

After being caught in a backseat tryst with the mayor's son, twenty-one-year-old Shane Fontaine is exiled from his small hometown. Now, alone in the city, he seeks solace in punk show mosh pits and bathhouse saunas.

But the music scene and gay community in 1982 recession-era Seattle aren’t always safe. Rescued from a brutal beating, Shane forms a friendship with a Russian engineering student that launches a confounding set of traumatic and ecstatic encounters.

Shane’s quest for human connection sends him down dark, dangerous streets. To survive, he must become the man who chooses to persist, to do the right thing and stand up for others.

This close-up portrait of pre-AIDS Seattle illuminates dark corners, where homeless kids cluster for safety near the revitalized Pike Place Market. Bad Reputation contrasts the deeply personal need for friendship with the universal dilemma: people aren’t always what they seem. 

5 Stars

After being caught in a compromising position with the Mayor’s son and arrested, Shane is forced to flee his small hometown of Port Angeles, lest he face retribution from the Mayor and members of the police force. He heads to Seattle where he finds a job trying to start over fresh. Shane spends his days working for the city on the pothole crew and his nights at small venues listening to Punk music and slam dancing or in the bathhouses for anonymous sex.

This story is absolutely heartbreaking. I know reading so many books I say that a lot, but omg, my heart literally broke for Shane. I felt his loneliness and sadness. It weighed heavy throughout the story. I broke down sobbing at times for the injustice of it all. Shane has lost everyone he’s ever cared about. They have either passed away or have abandoned him or turned their backs on him for being gay. I just wanted to hug and protect him from it all. He tries so hard to start over, but trouble just seems to follow him.

I not only loved Shane, but the story had some great secondary characters, some I’m left wondering the fate of, especially Jamie. I have a horrible feeling that for this time period and with Jamie’s actions, he sadly probably didn’t survive to see the 1990’s.

While, the story has a romantic undertone, I’m not sure I’d really call it a romance per se, but I really loved the story and it’s written in one of my favorite eras, the 1980’s. I grew up in the eighties and while I was more of a new-waver rather than a punk rocker like Shane and Bash and their friends, I can definitely still relate to the backdrop of this story.

I really enjoyed the story, but it was a bit slow in places and needed something to help move the storyline along. The last 25% had action, more romance and suspense and it really picked up steam at that point and eventually offered the lovely happy ending that Shane so desperately needed and deserved.

I don’t want to say a whole lot more, because I don’t want to give away too many spoilers so I’ll just say, you just need to go out and one-click it and find out how great it was for yourself. You won’t regret it, I promise! Highly recommend!

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