Hands Off by M. Mace
Published: April 5, 2021
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M. Mace is a contemporary romance author. Her educational background in psychology and marriage & family studies helps her create relatable and emotional characters that both capture and break hearts. Her Real Romantic Fiction brings passion, sentiment, and heartache to the table, with stories that will take you on an unforgettable ride to a happily ever after.
“There’s no turning back now.”
Melody experienced an assault at the hands of an acquaintance, and it haunted her ever since. She didn’t tell anyone, so she carries the weight all by herself, impacting her on every level. When a blast from the past rolls into town, Melody is surprised to discover that she isn’t afraid of Bennett, and she doesn’t cringe when he touches her. Bennett is immediately drawn to Melody when they reconnect. He notices her minor flinches and unease but doesn’t ask her about it. All he knows is he has feelings for Melody, and he won’t take no for an answer.
This book deals with sexual assault and the trauma that results from being assaulted. That aspect of the book, I felt, was handled well and respectfully. Melody’s trauma, both mental and emotional, was visible, and her pain was brutally displayed upon the pages.
The relationship between Bennett and Melody didn’t strike me as romantic. It came across as slightly toxic, as Bennett was almost immediately possessive of Melody. It was almost like he violated her in other ways. She tried to end things, and he refused to allow it.
While certain aspects of Bennett’s character were admirable, overall, I don’t know how I felt about him. I wanted to like him, but he struck me as problematic. Melody was a great character who blossomed from victim to survivor in her personal mentality when processing her trauma.
Overall, it was a decent book. The story’s complexity and the emotional aspects of the plot were clearly well developed and clearly well defined. The visual scenery was used to propel the story along, and that was clever.
I did like that stigma that comes from being assaulted was utterly shattered, and that Melody was finally able to talk about what happened to her and shed the weight she carried from her attack. There was no victim-blaming, and no one questioned Melody when she finally admitted what happened. The traumatic aspects of this book were handled well, which made this a powerful story of healing, forgiveness, and moving on.