Protection: S.A. Reid
In S.A. Reid’s sharply-written “Protection”, set in the early 1930s, Gabriel MacKenna is a strong-willed convict, serving two consecutive life sentences, in England’s Wentworth Prison. Although he has succumbed to the idea of living the rest of his days incarcerated, Gabriel refuses to stoop down to becoming a ‘prison queer’ as he puts it. He insists on maintaining his heterosexuality and his hard demeanor and intimidating fighting skills makes him well-respected by his fellow inmates, as well as some of the guards. Gabriel’s perception of love and life changes, when he encounters a new handsome young inmate, named Dr. Joseph Cooper.
From the moment he sees Joey Cooper, Gabriel is magnetized to Joey’s good looks. This is something very new to Gabriel, to feel such a strong physical attraction to another man. Later, while the two are showering, Gabriel commits an act of violence toward Joey that sends Joey to the prison infirmary and solidifies his hatred toward Gabriel. When Joey returns to the prison population after being released from the infirmary, Gabriel offers Joey protection from the other inmates, in exchange for sexual favors. Joey refuses, but he learns that denying Gabriel Is pretty futile, especially once they become cellmates. Also, knowing that Gabriel is one of the most feared inmates in Wentworth prison, Joey almost has no choice but to comply, even though his resentment toward Gabriel still runs deep.
As time passes and the two begin to know each other more, both Gabriel and Joey are surprised by their growing affection toward each other. Gabriel never believed he was capable of loving another person, let alone another man, and Joey sees that underneath Gabriel’s hard exterior, is a sensitive and intelligent man, and finds himself going from hating Gabriel, to falling in love with him.
Many things make “Protection” a great read: first the characters are believable and fully three-dimensional. Initially, readers might be turned off by Gabriel’s ways of thinking and acting, but through vivid and compelling descriptions of his upbringing, readers begin to sympathize and grow to like him, just in the same way Joey does. Each character has flaws, including Joey, but how they deal with these flaws, both individually and together as a couple, make this book very compelling.
As for the ending, I will not spoil it. Giving the setting and nature of the book, I should have figured what would happen, but I was still struck emotionally when it happened. This a very well-written book, with two really great characters, as well as nicely-written, engaging erotic scenes. This is a book that I will be keeping in my Kindle library for a long time.
Author of “Shadow”, “Anomaly” “Freshman”