Saving Liam

By: D. P. Denman

Series: Saving Liam

Book Number: 1

Star Rating:

Sensuality Rating:



Spoiler Disclaimer


After being kicked out of the house at fifteen by his homophobic father, Liam Newman was living on the streets of Vancouver until his current boyfriend, Cord, took him in. However, it was far from a rescue. Cord almost immediately started grooming Liam to become a gay porn star, something he's been doing for the past two years. He hates having sex with strange men for hours on end, but fears that if he refuses, Cord will put him back on the streets. The only escape he has from the distasteful turn his life has taken is the time he spends across the hall, playing video games with his cute, hunky neighbor, Justin. With Justin, there are no expectations, just mindless fun, but during those times, Liam never really talks about his life, fearful of what Justin might think if he knew the truth. But then, one day, Cord sets Liam up for what he thinks is going to be an in-person shoot, only to discover that the man he thought loved him has just prostituted him. When Liam tries to leave, things turn ugly, with the man who paid for him knocking him around and raping him, but thankfully Justin shows up just in time to help him pick up the pieces.

Justin has lived across the hall from Liam and his boyfriend for two years. He knew they had a turbulent relationship, but he never would have suspected the truth of what was really happening behind the closed doors his neighbors' apartment until he finds Liam drunk one night and the truth comes spilling out. Justin knows that he wants to help, but Liam is adamant that it would just make things worse for him. Knowing he can't really do much without Liam's consent, Justin temporarily sits back, trying to come up with a solution. However, a few days later, while dealing with a particularly difficult guest at the five-star hotel where he works, Justin discovers Liam in the man's room and almost immediately suspects what just happened. When Liam confesses the truth, Justin is determined to help this time and get Liam away from Cord. He finds Liam a new place to live and a new job that pays well enough to live on. The two men grow closer, and when Justin's latest relationship ends, he and Liam start a tentative romance of their own. Starved for affection, Liam can't help but want to be close to Justin, but after all that he's been through, sex is off the table, and he fears that he may never want that kind of intimacy again.


Saving Liam is the first book in D. P. Denman's series of the same name that follows the same couple throughout. Justin and Liam have been nextdoor neighbors in the same apartment complex for a couple of years. Liam was once a homeless teen before being taken in by Cord, the man he now considers to be his boyfriend. However, for the past two years, Cord has been manipulating Liam to star in porn videos. Seeking escape from his life of abuse, Liam often ends up at Justin's, playing video games, and the two have become friends. Although Liam is often sullen, Justin has no idea that Liam is being exploited almost right under his nose until one night, in a drunken stupor, Liam finally confesses everything. Justin is horrified and wants to help Liam out of his situation, but ashamed of what he's been doing and fearful of Cord throwing him back out on the street, Liam refuses. Cord ratchets things up, though, when he arranges to prostitute Liam without his knowledge or consent, which leads to Liam being knocked around and raped in the very hotel where Justin works. When Justin finds Liam in the aftermath of the abuse, he offers comfort and insists on doing everything he can to get Liam out from under Cord's thumb once and for all. Finally realizing that Cord never loved him, Liam agrees, although in his experience nothing comes for free, so he worries when Justin might call in his debt. Justin surprises him, though, by being nothing like any man he's ever been with before. After Justin's latest relationship implodes, he and Liam start up a tentative romance of their own, but while Liam is starved for affection, after all that he's been through, sex is something he can no longer enjoy and he fears that Justin might leave him if he can't get there.

Liam was just fifteen when his father caught him with another boy and threw him out of the house. Frightened and homeless, he was preyed upon by Cord, who offered him a place to stay, but almost immediately started grooming him to star in the porn videos he produces. Most days, Liam works as a waiter at a greasy spoon, but he doesn't make enough money to live on. Two days a week, he has sex with a parade of strange men in front of a camera. He hates what he's doing, but naively believes that Cord loves him. He also knows that if he refuses, he'll probably end up back on the streets. His only respite from his life of abuse is going nextdoor to play video games with their neighbor, Justin, who provides a little escape and doesn't ask for anything in return. Ashamed of what he does and fearful that someone will discover the truth, Liam never talks about his life. Then one night, when things are particularly bad, he gets drunk and spills everything to Justin who wants to help. Feeling like there's nothing he can do, Liam refuses, but things only get worse when Cord prostitutes him and the john rapes him. Justin is there to help him pick up the pieces afterward, assisting him with getting a better paying job and a nice place to live. Liam is concerned that Justin may call in his debt, but when he keeps surprising him at every turn with his generosity, Liam starts to fall for his handsome savior. When their romance starts to heat up, he loves being close to Justin, but after all he's been through, he doesn't care if he ever has sex again and worries that Justin may leave him because of it. Liam is the ultimate tortured hero who's been though a lot in his mere eighteen years of life. I hated that he had to go through everything he did, but I was glad that he had Justin to help him get out of the awful life of abuse he was in. Liam is a real sweetheart and I look forward to seeing him grow and blossom as the story continues.

Justin works as a customer service manager at a five-star hotel, but he lives in a not-so-great part of the city while trying to save money for a better place, which puts him in the path of Liam, who he simply knows as the sweet kid nextdoor. Justin thinks Liam is adorable, and under other circumstances, he might have pursued him. But between Liam's youth and believing he has a boyfriend, Justin maintains his distance. Instead, they share their love of video games, but not much else. Meanwhile Justin goes out on a blind date with Rich, the friend of a co-worker, which quickly turns into a steamy love affair. After Liam confesses all, Justin immediately wants to do something to get him out of that life, but when he refuses, Justin knows there's not much he can do for Liam until he admits that he needs help. Then one night, while dealing with a particularly difficult guest at the hotel, Justin sees Liam in the guy's room and realizes what just happened. After that, he won't take no for an answer when it comes to getting Liam out of Cord's clutches for good, and this time, though still scared, Liam truly does want Justin's help. Not long after he has Liam situated in a nice apartment with a better job, Justin's relationship with Rich falls apart, leaving him free to pursue Liam. After all he's been through, though, Liam is very psychologically damaged, and it will take all of Justin's patience and love to help Liam find healing and a new normal. Justin is a great guy who's all about solving people's problems in his day job, and that caring demeanor extends into his personal life as well. I admired him for giving Liam a safe space as his neighbor and for wanting to help as soon as he finds out there's a much bigger issue at play in Liam's life. He goes out of his way to make sure Liam is safe and able to look after himself, without ever making any moves on him in spite of his attraction, which was exactly what Liam needed.

One thing that initially bugged me a little, is that the trajectory of Justin and Liam's story is a bit different than most romances in that Justin and Liam don't become romantically linked until late in the narrative. There's a clear attraction between the two, but Liam is far too shy and skittish early on and also wouldn't want to ruin the good thing they have going playing video games since it's his only escape. Justin has his own reasons for keeping it platonic, too, and instead gets involved with Rich, with whom he shares lots of steamy times. At first, I was questioning why the author chose to write another love interest for Justin when it obviously wasn't going to last, but then she answered that question in Justin's introspection when it dawns on him that Liam is the one he's really wanted all along and Rich was just a place-holder until Liam was in a position to be in a relationship. Then it made sense and I wasn't quite as perturbed by it. I grudgingly admit that it gave Justin something to do, while leaving Liam much-needed space to get out of the terrible situation he was in and start to heal a little before getting into something new. Rich's actions made the necessary break-up that I knew was coming much more palatable, too, so that he didn't end up being the third wheel left out in the cold. Therefore, my only real complaint about the book is that the author's writing mechanics and the editing could have used a bit more polish. Given that this story has no less than four main male characters, she uses far too many he/him pronouns, often making it difficult to discern whose POV I was in and who she was talking about. There was also a significant overabundance of certain character actions such as shrugging, twitching a smile, and eyebrows climbing foreheads.:-)

Otherwise, I really enjoyed Saving Liam. Liam is a sweetheart who's been done wrong in a myriad of different ways and really needs someone to step up to the plate and help him. He's also starved for affection and needs someone to love him and not just use him. Justin is a real stand-up guy who's the perfect person to do both. I love the way that Justin treated Liam all along, always being there for him as a friend, which made the quick inception of their romantic relationship more believable. Once Justin and Liam are together romantically, their interactions are achingly sweet and tender, with Justin giving Liam all the affection he's been craving without making him feel obligated to have sex. Justin also exhibits love and patience in trying to help Liam figure out if he'll ever be able to get there. Admittedly their romance is barely getting started just as the book is ending and there's much still left to explore between them, but that only makes me eager to get to the second book as soon as possible to find out what happens next for these two wonderful heroes.

Note: This book contains scenes of non-consensual sex, discussion of a minor being groomed for sex work, and suicidal ideation, which could distress some readers. It also contains explicit sexual situations, including light bondage and use of a sex toy, which could be objectionable to sensitive readers.


D. P. Denman


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