REVIEW: Credence, by Delphia Baisden

Title: Credence

Author: Delphia Baisden

Genre: Contemporary

LGBTQ+ Category: MM Gay

Publisher: Self

Pages: 227

Reviewer: Pat

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About The Book

James Morgan, lead guitarist for the rock band Eden, seems to have it all. That is, until Theo, Eden’s lead singer and James’s secret lover, violently betrays him, sending James into a deep depression and cutting their current tour and the band’s life short.

Kieran Jackson, the lead vocalist for the less successful band Lost and Found, is at his wits’ end. At thirty-three, he never dreamed he’d still be opening for bands comprised of twentysomethings. When Eden pulls out of the last few shows of their summer tour, Kieran returns home burned out and heartbroken.

Over a year later, James, Phil, and David of Eden decide to reform under a different name with Kieran as their new vocalist. James, never having forgotten his single interaction with Kieran, nor the only time he ever listened to him perform, knows Kieran’s the best choice.

James is still closeted—and skittish after his last relationship—and one fumbling, drunken kiss threatens to undo everything he’s worked so hard to rebuild, as well as the cover he’s fought to maintain.

Can James overcome his past, confront his demons, and reclaim his former fame? Or will he and the newly formed True North remain in Eden’s shadow forever? Can he finally find comfort in who he is, accept his past, and reopen his heart? Or will the memories of Theo’s betrayal and the subsequent fallout dash any hope of finding—and trusting—love again?

Trigger warning: this book contains explicit rape, as well as one failed 

The Review

The title says everything a reader needs to know about the plot of this intriguing novel. Credence is what we believe is true—about ourselves and about others, about situations and consequences. 

Guitar player James Morgan of the mega-popular rock band Eden is in an abusive relationship that he thinks is a love affair with the lead singer of the band. While they’re currently on tour, a drunk James is raped by the other man, neither of whom is out as gay, and suffers not only from the abuse itself but also from the shattering of his self-image. 

How could he have mistaken the abuse he accepted for so long as love? Since he’s not out, he has no one but his best friend Phil to talk to about the affair and the culminating incident.

While James and Phil agree to keep quiet, James cuts short the tour and Eden breaks up with its members going their own ways. A little over a year later, three of the original band members, not including the rapist, talk James into reforming under another name with a new lead singer, Kieran Jackson. 

Kieran was once one of James’ fans and is flattered to have been asked to join the group even though he’s bitter that Eden broke up just when Kieran and his old band had a shot at opening for Eden. With professional help and growing love between him and Kieran, James even seems to be healing and growing. He’s getting a clearer and truer sense of his self worth back.

In fact, everything seems to go smoothly until the rapist shows up and begs to record one last album with the original Eden members in the lineup. At that point, greed raises its head, and the band members coerce James to agree.

Every step of the way, James relieves the abusive relationship and rape in flashbacks as he tries to get closer to Kieran and bury memories of the rape. James’ decision not to report his rape to his manager, band mates (except for his best friend), and the police now looks like it will come back to bite him.

As I kept reading flashbacks of the abusive relationship and James’ struggle to get back to “normal” through professional therapy and Kieran’s understanding help, I kept wondering what the author’s point was. Why was this such a laborious process?

It finally occurred to me that author Baisden wants those who’ve read about this type of trauma ad nauseamin romances to know that getting over rape and caustic relationships doesn’t automatically happen by finding true love. What needs to change most of all is the victim’s mental acceptance of himself as blameless, something that doesn’t often occur to victims. 

This isn’t an easy book, not a story with an instant cure nor a quick, happy gloss over a hot topic issue. And for that, I admire Baisden for her honesty. I eagerly await her next book.

The Reviewer

Pat Henshaw:

  1. Is a she, not a he.
  2. Writes MM romances.
  3. Has interviewed Arlo Guthrie, Big Bird, Fred Rogers, Liberace, and Vincent Price.
  4. Has lived and worked on all three US coasts and in the middle of the country, too.
  5. Has been a reviewer, costumer, librarian, and teacher.
  6. Has ridden an elephant, touched the pyramids, and stood at the edge of a volcano.
  7. Believes love is essential to everyone’s happiness.
  8. She wants you to remember: Every day is a good day for romance!

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