Riptide Publishing / December 22, 2014 / $4.99, digital
Two women. One terrible crime. Zero allies.
After being raped by a superior officer, MA3 Kim Lockhoff wants to leave the whole thing in the past. A cop herself, she knows all too well that it’s her word—and slutty reputation—against that of a respected Navy officer.
MA2 Reese Marion, a tough cop hiding her own trauma behind a hard-as-nails exterior, has no patience for pretty little princesses who use their cleavage to win favor with the guys. But when Reese is partnered with Kim, she slowly realizes that reputations can lie. Kim is whip-smart, ambitious—and scared. The man who attacked her won’t let anything damage his career, least of all Kim . . . or the baby she’s carrying as a result.
Isolated on Okinawa, thousands of miles away from home, the two women lean hard on each other. But when Kim confides in Reese, she unwittingly puts her new lover—and both of their careers—in the line of fire. Now her attacker just might have the leverage he needs to keep her quiet for good.
Razor Wire by Lauren Gallagher is an intense book. Though it’s definitely a romance between the two women who are the main characters, and has a happy ending, the main focus of the plot is the seemingly insurmountable problem facing Kim Lockhoff, a problem that could ruin the career that is all she’s ever wanted. It’s one of the most unusual romances I’ve ever read, using a deep exploration of the characters to address the extensive and painful fallout from a rape, realistically and without becoming didactic, and suspenseful as well.
Kim’s rapist is of higher rank than she is, and wants his crime swept under the table by any means necessary. He intimidates her and threatens her career if she does not terminate the pregnancy, and is completely capable of carrying out his threats.
All those catch phrases— No means no. Rape doesn’t have to be violent. Coercion counts—meant nothing while I sat on a dirty bathroom floor, pregnant with the baby of a man I’d never have slept with voluntarily. And what the hell did it matter anyway? He was friends with everyone in our incestuous, good ole boys chain of command. Including the Sexual Assault Response Coordinator. Who didn’t tolerate girls making false accusations of rape. No matter what had really happened, the fact remained it was my word against Stanton’s.
Stationed on Okinawa, Kim is one of very few women serving as a military policeman. Trying to avoid problems like she had in her previous posting, she’s had little contact with the other female cops, but in this extremity she must turn to one of the other women for support and help.
Reese Marion, who is of higher rank, is resistant to helping her at first, thinking Kim has brought her problems on herself by being a “party girl.” However, Reese soon recognizes her own prejudice, apologizes, and listens to what Kim has to say. She becomes Kim’s only confidant and support. Eventually, Kim becomes Reese’s confidant as well, sharing an experience Reese has long been afraid to revisit.
Their emotional isolation from the rest of the world both intensifies their reliance on each other and gives them greater strength to face difficult choices. The portrayal of their friendship’s development, as well as that of their romance, was the best part of the story for me. Reese’s initial distrust of Kim has deep roots, and offers Kim a chance to provide support as well.
“It’s okay.” [Kim] shrugged. “The only thing you had to go by was what I showed you.”
“Still. I shouldn’t have . . .”
“It’s done. Don’t worry about it.” She trailed her fingers up and down my arm. “The hardest part is I don’t know which makes people think less of me: when I’m the cold bitch or when I’m the party girl.” She met my eyes. “We can’t win, you know?”
“No, we can’t. And we have to do whatever it takes to protect ourselves.”
“But how the hell are we supposed to know how to protect ourselves without it backfiring?”
“I wish I knew.” Stroking her cheek, I added, “But at least we’re both safe here tonight.”
Her smile was slow to form, but it did materialize, and she moved closer to me. “This is the safest I’ve felt in a while, to be honest.”
“Me too.” I kissed her forehead. “We have to go back to that bullshit eventually, but . . .”
She raised her chin and brushed my lips with hers. “But not tonight.”
Razor Wire deals with difficult issues while presenting a deeply engaging story about women fighting back against violence, and I highly recommend it.
Please note that some readers might find the book triggering for frank discussion of rape.
Learn more about or order a copy of Razor Wire by Lauren Gallagher, available now:
Victoria Janssen is the author of three novels and numerous short stories. She also reads a lot. Follow her on Twitter: @victoriajanssen or find out more at victoriajanssen.com.