Reviewed by Elizabetta
TITLE: The Darker Side of Trey Grey
AUTHOR: Tara Spears
BLURB: No one told Trey Grey that life could be dark and unpredictable. With the death of his father when he was eight, his mother’s departure from Earth on a syringe full of Heroin and the brutal abuse of his stepfather, Trey learned these lessons all too well on his own.
Now at twenty years of age, he is nearing the completion of his accounting degree and can finally glimpse the end of his life as a prostitute, the only profession he has ever known.
Wracked by nightmares of Willie’s years of abuse, and controlled by severe obsessive-compulsive disorders as a result, he seems to have a tentative handle on his own life. That is, as long as he keeps a death-grip and no one touches his Camaro, kitten.
But even the best laid plans can be torn to gory bits.
His savior comes in the unlikely form of a spiky-haired blond named Justin, after a night of drunken debauchery that neither of them seems able to forget. Justin might just need Trey as much as Trey needs him.
Trey travels through his fearscapes and begins to find his own forgiveness, but at what cost to the manic-depressive Justin? Will they be able to live through the trauma of each other’s lives and find their own version of normal?
One line stands out in the story blurb: “Trey travels through his fearscapes”… and we travel right along with him through the good, the bad, and the ugly.
This boy has some serious issues. Trey is abandoned by his mother for a heroin needle, and severely abused from a tender age by his pederast step-father, Willie— who not only beats and tortures him, but uses him, pimps him out, and there’s no one else to care. The childhood sexual and mental abuse is so relentless, taking place over the course of about five years, that it has left Trey with a legacy of self-loathing, depression, and severe OCD— particularly towards his own semen. He spends a lot of time cleaning, wiping and scrubbing himself until he bleeds. Such a dilemma for Trey as he is now putting himself through college by hooking. Sex for trade moves beyond complicated when simple bodily emissions can trigger nightmares and a downward spiral to self harm. Trey has escaped the home but he hasn’t escaped the horror.
Trey is barely able to keep it all together on his own. Shrinks haven’t helped him, he has no close friends. Well, his closest friend is his car, kitten, which he treats with the utmost care, an uncomplicated love… Trey follows a daily regimen of such strict structure and control that he is stretched tight to snapping, and he walks a dangerous line every time he walks the Avenue. Each trick brings risk and yet he goes back for more. It’s as if he enjoys dancing with danger or… more likely, it’s all he knows, this systematic degradation.
The author is intent that we witness every dark corner, every cranny of Trey’s nightmares. We get a front-row seat to the graphic abuse his step-father inflicted on him. A warning— if these are hard limits. As a result, Trey is resolute in his belief that he is unlovable and un-wantable. It breaks my heart… Trey is in a world of hurt; inner nightmares surface and are relived in an instant from a trigger point— and anything could trigger them.
It’s when a trick assaults Trey without a condom that he begins a downward spiral becoming inundated in Willie’s past abuses. At around this time, Trey meets Justin, a seeming ‘golden boy’ on the outside, but actually a fellow inmate who hides his own horrors. The two are immediately attracted to each other. They share an understanding of their personal demons and are able to forge a relationship, rocky though it is, that just might see them through.
“Trey” reminds me a lot of Amy Lane’s, “Chase in Shadow.” That book also gives an up-close, blow-by-blow look at early childhood trauma leading to mental breakdown. Both Chase and Trey are twenty years old at the time of their stories, and they both use the sex trade to deal with their dysfunction. Both stories are very raw portrayals of young men hiding severe pain. Both books have an abundance of angst. However, where Chase has to face and accept his true sexuality (and there lies the issue of that book), Trey is never in doubt that he is gay, he feels comfortable with his orientation. “Trey” is a much darker read because the issue here is the hellacious sexual abuse of a child and how it manifests itself in Trey’s adult behavior. Not only does he get beaten up by his tricks but he’s great at self-inflicted abuse. Much of the story seems to have him recovering from some beating or knife wound. He is punishing himself for what Willie did to him and for his mother’s abandonment.
The writing is very good, generally. The author’s habit of dropping us suddenly into one of Trey’s past nightmares while effective, is jarring. There are lots of tangents to the plot (various rent-boys who come and go; Freddie, the sub who wants to hire Trey as a Dom (!!); Georgie, the trick who’s sudden and brutal murder is left unresolved), and these affect the flow, so some editing would be warranted— the last third of the book dragged a bit for me. This looks to be the first big book for this author and it’s obvious she has serious skills. The story has a satisfactory ending, an HFN, and it seems that there will be a sequel which will continue Trey and Justin’s journey. I’d call this a commendable initial showing.
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