Going into Beneath the Burn by Pam Godwin, I knew that I would love the story and that I would get wrapped up in the writing. With this being said, after finishing the book, my mind is still trying to wrap itself around the utter awesomeness of this literary piece of work. I absolutely loved this book. You could feel the raw, gritty and edgy writing throughout every page. Damn! This was good shit!
“You’re resilient, you know that?”
“I’m a survivor.”
She knew, in that moment, the absence of fear was not synonymous with courage. She wasn’t brave. She was numb.
Charlee Grosky is a girl in hiding, on the run. Running from a powerful and atrocious abuser which she had to mercilessly endure for two years. For three years her life has been about staying hidden and safe, moving from one place to another. The night Jay Maynard walks into her tattoo shop, a connection is formed between the pair. Unfortunately this was also the night that her life would go back into hell’s depths.
He wasn’t an addict. He was a self-medicating nut job.
Having experienced some horrific circumstances in his past that continue to haunt him, Jay is a lost and tortured soul walking through life trying to numb the pain and push away the nightmares. One night he finds himself in a tattoo shop completely taken and intrigued by the beautiful tattoo artist. He leaves the shop that night knowing that his life has changed and is determined to make himself a better man, one that is worthy.
Both Jay and Charlee leave a lasting impact on one another. When they meet the first time it is not in the cards for them to maintain that connection. The time they end up spending apart is one where they both end up thinking about one another, unknowingly giving each other strength in some dark and tormented moments. They’re paths would cross three years later; however, they are no longer the same people.
Three years later, Charlee is once again on the run trying to heal and move past all the horrors she endured at the hands of her sadistic torturer. Her captivity has changed her as a person but she is not broken. I simply adored Charlee. Her strength floored me. She was handed over to a cruel and brutal man by the one person in her life she believed she could depend on and trust. To survive two years of torment and then to also have to go through a second time at the hands of this monster was beyond belief. Yet Charlee continues to move through life trying her best to move past everything that she has had to face. Charlee life is once again about staying hidden and safe. After all, her captor is a rich and powerful billionaire who seems to have half the world in his financial pockets. How can you run from someone like this? With that first encounter with Jay so deeply entrenched in her mind, when Charlee sees an opportunity to come face to face with him once again she takes it despite the danger and risk.
For Jay, the three years since his encounter with Charlee have been ones where he hides behind drugs, sex and music. The drugs and sex serve to numb the pain and keep his past buried deep in his tortured soul while his music is what keeps him somewhat sane. He met Charlee and wanted to become a better man, finally being able to let go of his horrific past. When he discovers that Charlee is gone from his life, he is unable to strive for healing and restoration any longer. His brokenness consumes him. His band has made it big at this point and Jay is an elusive rock icon who is barely holding it together. The last thing he expects is for Charlee to once again appear in his life.
Charlee and Jay are immediately engulfed by one another when they reconnect for a second time. They are unable to deny how their souls simply call out to one another. Jay is living a rocker lifestyle and Charlee discovers just how emotionally damaged and broken this man truly is. Jay discovers exactly what Charlee has lived through. Both of them share a traumatic past and because of this (or maybe despite this) they support one another and are able to embrace and provide what the other needed to ultimately heal. Both have emotional and physical scars. Both have boundaries that they have erected in order to preserve themselves. I loved how Jay and Charlee simply accepted one another and they both pushed the other to come to terms with their greatest demons. It was beautiful to watch how they supported the other. When one was weak, the other was strong.
Beneath the Burn is one of those books that kept me on the edge of my seat the entire time. I actually lost much sleep because I could not put this book down. I have to be honest though. Pam Godwin does not hold anything back. This book is intense and dark. There are moments that will shock you and there are times when your heart will be pounding hard. I will stress that this book may not be for everyone. I like darker reads but for me I was drawn to this book because of the story and how wonderfully executed it was. The writing, for me, was utter perfection. I loved how Ms. Godwin kept me guessing, how she slapped me in the face with reality and then threw in some kinky BDSM. There was no holds barred when it came to the details of Charlee’s time with her psychopath captor. I walk away from this book having experienced some gut-wrenching scenes that left me breathless, but I also am left with how there is much beauty in survival.
I will mention that even though this book is dark, there were moments that had me laughing out loud. I loved the whole rock group dynamics and the members of Jay’s band were all wonderfully written secondary characters. I also absolutely loved Nathan and his devotion to keeping Charlee safe. His intentions to protect Charlee made for some hilarious moments between him and Jay. I will prove my point.
"Didn't ask you to come." He whistled at an approaching taxi, and it stopped at the curb.
"And miss watching you try to romance the girl who's turned you into a faggot?"
“I don’t know how Jay rocks with his cock on the loose. The rockstrap-” he snapped the string on his hip “-keeps the twig and giggles from bobbing and chafing on stage.” – Lax
“All right, ladies. The fuckateria is closed for the night.”
“I want you to be happy. And if a guitar jockey in slut pants does it for you, who am I to judge?”
Nathan bent over him, his voice lowering with palpable hostility. “If that changes and I find you’re the reason, I will hollow out your dick with a butter knife.”
All in all, Beneath the Burn is one of those books that will ultimately stay with me for some time. This book tore my heart to shreds, had my heart fluttering with Jay’s swoony magnificence, and then had me back in the depths of despair before ultimately putting me back together again. Pam Godwin tells a tale about two very flawed and imperfect individuals who survived and found healing in one another. Heart-breaking, tragic, beautiful and perfect.
Some favorite quotes:
“You showed me beauty in survival. I’ll show you strength in healing.”
“You build me up and turn me inside out. I’ve never felt so defenseless and yet…so daring at the same time.”
“Fuck him but he’d found a beacon of salvation in this gorgeous girl. And lost his goddamned mind.”
“Perhaps she was the missing element of his soul?”
“She wanted to learn more about him, wanted to nestle deep inside and unearth the man who seemed all too familiar with pain. Real pain.”
“I don’t know what you’re doing to me, Charlee, but whatever it is melts everything else away. It’s the best feeling in the world.”
“I just don’t want to be where you need me.” His tone was deep, sharp. “I want to be what you need.”
“I might not be able to help you, but I’ll share your pain if you let me.”
“All yours, Charlee.”
Every. Single. Breath.
“I fucking love you. I don’t deserve to love you, but I will spend the rest of my life earning that right. You are my music, do you understand?”<
Delusional, self-important prickadonna.
“She was his greatest possibility. His reason. His why. He would give whatever she needed to be whole and happy, because loving her was as essential as drawing air.”