Mel's Reviews > That's What Brothers Do

That's What Brothers Do by Derekica Snake
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's review
Nov 06, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: e-book, m-m
Read in November, 2011

Wow. I finished this in one sitting, which is rare for me, but for this book I was up reading until morning. Annoyed at first with the, at times, very sloppy writing and lack of editing (typos, bad grammar). Disappointed with some stylistic choices (like using flashbacks or just skimming very important scenes). All in all: technically speaking there was a lot of room for improvement.

But the book got to me on an emotional level. I had a constant knot in my stomach while reading. I was engrossed, touched, disturbed. I felt for Brant, was scared for him, got sad over him. Brant, who sacrificed so much for others. Brant (as another reader so aptly put it) whose strength is his weakness. Brant, whose life is filled with manipulation and who can't differentiate between love and loyalty and fear and conditioning.

This book is certainly not for everyone. It's dark, sad and brutal at times and there are no magic solutions, no Disney endings.

And that's what I admired most about the story. We see Brant grow and get stronger (view spoiler)

This story touched me. And it made really think about right and wrong, love, strength, freedom of choice, loyalty and family.
A well deserved 4,5 stars.
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Reading Progress

5.0% "Funny how the author thanks her proofreader in the Acknowledgements and we see the first mistake a page later. (And then one. And then one)." 3 comments

Comments <span class="smallText"> (showing 1-12 of 12) </span> <span class="smallText">(12 new)</span>

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Lauraadriana Hey sweets! :O)

message 2: by Mel (new) - rated it 4 stars

Mel Hey babe! You haven't read this yet? Am I actually reading something LA hasn't read yet? Wow! ;)

Emanuela ~plastic duck~ I totally agree with what you wrote in the spoiler tag. (view spoiler)

message 4: by Mel (last edited Nov 06, 2011 06:35AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Mel LA, read this ASAP. There's so much to discuss about. Okay, but don't read on:

*spoiler territory*

Oh Manu! There is so much to talk about! Like you said: everything that happens is warped, immoral or unethical in one way or another, but still I wasn't appalled.

The relationship with Wilber for instance. Is it love? Is it conditioning? Is it Stockholm Syndrome? Is Brant capable of love? Is Wilbur?
I read Heather C's review in that she says even ugly love can be beautiful and I think she hit the nail in the head. Again: not okay in our standards but it works for the story.

Same for the ending. I think ms Snake was brave to go the way she did. She essentially robs Brant of his last innocence. He is no longer a victim, he is a part of the system he was victimized in. (With more compassion, true, although I wonder if being Constantine's PA wasn't safer. I can hardly imagine Wilber's job to be office work. He was an enforcer afterall.)
But I still felt for him, still loved him, was glad he was 'happy'.

What did you think of the last scene? It irked me and made me happy at the same time. I was annoyed by the fact that even in his free time Brant has Constantine breathing down his neck. What I did like is that he and Wilber seemed to be on the same level now, no longer ex-slave and master. I also liked how he was able to talk back to Constantine.
I guess that last scene was a perfect capture of all relationship dynamics: a stronger Brant with a loving Wilbur who takes as much happiness as he can in the confines of his golden cage.

Emanuela ~plastic duck~ Probably spoilerish.

Ok, I don't know how to explain it and it's a bit painful, but I'll try to, because I will use the word special in the creepy way abusers use that word with their victims. I think Brant is conditioned and manipulated and what he receives from Wilber is special attention, even if it makes us cringe just thinking about the single acts of this attention, but Wilber was protecting Brant and Brant had a sort of special rank in Wilber's trade. Wilber keeps his word with Brant, he's brutally honest with Brant. So all this combined makes Brant be loyal to Wilber and probably that's the closest thing to love Brant feels. He feels the reflection of Wilber's love probably, but I have no illusion it's a sentiment of choice, it's more a defense mechanism.

I think the pre-ending was perfect because it formed a full circle of all the stories in the book. I think it's one of the most wrapped up stories I've ever read :-)

I had the same reaction as you with the last scene. I wondered: what's the point? Probably it's to show us an imperfect happiness, because Constantine is always a menacing presence, but it's also to show us that Brant+Wilber are happier than Constantine and that to give us a sense of family. Very disturbing.

It's a book I have a hard time recommending, because I'd hate to think that someone could just stop at the most superficial part of the story.

message 6: by Mel (last edited Nov 06, 2011 10:41AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Mel I agree.

Wilber and Brant have a warped love. I try not to think about the fact that Wilber was the one who took Brant's virginity and Wilber was the one who sat back and had Brant do 7 men in one day. If I think too much about that, I can't forgive him. It just makes me want to go grab Brant to protect him from his delusions of being special and loved. Because Wilber can't be capable of love if he's capable of that.

If we really look at it: their relationship is wrong on all accounts. Wilber took advantage of his position: he was older, he was more powerful, he was the master. He might tell himself that he put Brant on his level when Bran solicited him, but raping him and offering him up to all the clients, disciplining him... It couldn't be just business for Brant. It took over his life, his character. Brant was conditioned into submission and conditioned into believing Wilber was the only person he could trust.

This all being said: in the end: he could trust Wilber. In their fucked up world, they were a good match. In that world, given the circumstances, Wilber probably did take good care of Brant. At least: that's what Brant believes (good defense mechanism indeed).

I'm glad the author showed that Wilber wasn't interested in continuing on the relationship as it was. He wanted Brant to be on equal footing. He realized soon enough it wasn't as easy as he thought it would be.

What I would have liked to seen addressed is the fact that when Constantine paid Brant his deal in the video, Brant wasn't financially connected to Wilber anymore. Theoretically he could have left him. I understand why he didn't but I would have liked it if Wilber and Brant would have really talked about it. It would have made Wilber be the needy one, the one who was waiting and hoping.

I agree in that I would feel bad if people would write this off as brutal smut. There are very important themes addressed and I think the author did a wonderful job of really making you think.

Have you read Texas? It's very similar to this story. In fact, I think this story is a lot of Texas with a little it of The Substitute thrown in the mix.
Texas has the same dark, claustrophobic feel. Especially the first two books. There is a lot of non con and dub con, twincest, violence, you name it. It's horrible but it deals with interesting themes which become more clear as the story progresses. If you're up to it, I say: go read it.

message 7: by Emanuela ~plastic duck~ (last edited Nov 06, 2011 11:06AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Emanuela ~plastic duck~ This all being said: in the end: he could trust Wilber. In their fucked up world, they were a good match. In that world, given the circumstances, Wilber probably did take good care of Brant.

Now I'll probably say something horrible. Wilber made Brant fulfill his term of service and that's what made Brant an equal, because Brant could be proud of having freed himself. The conventional romance would be: make a Cinderfella out of Brant, Wilber realizes he did horrible things and at a certain point he stands up against the world and saves the boy. Well? That would have made Brant dependent on Wilber for his happiness. Brant earned it instead, Wilber made him earn it and that is part of the mentality of that world and it's also a proof of Wilber's position in the organization, he's not a man who can be conquered with a pair of puppy dog eyes.

I added Texas, thanks!

message 8: by Mel (new) - rated it 4 stars

Mel I'd agree with you had it not been for the extra loan. Brant fulfills his term and is free... only to have something else hanging over his head. In that sense Wilbur's expectations of him are unrealistic. He expects Brant to be strong and independent while he pretty much still holds the leash around his neck.

That's why I think the fact that Wilber lost (financial) hold over Brant should have been addressed more specifically. To me that was the point where the men were on equal footing (as much as could be with the Organisation's rutless District Manager and a former boy toy without any resources).

Emanuela ~plastic duck~ I should re-read that part, I admit it's quite foggy for me at the moment :-)

message 10: by Mel (new) - rated it 4 stars

Mel Oh, but read Texas first :) That one has some quite sappy bits at times, but I didn't mind (yes, I didn't mind sap and hell has not frozen over, go figure!) because it was much needed relief from all that agony.
I'd love to hear about your opinion when you're done with it :)

Lauraadriana Just finished and loved it. Posted my review, need time to go through this thread!

message 12: by Mel (new) - rated it 4 stars

Mel Okay. I'm off to bed now. I read your review, loved it. Just beautiful!

One thing though: you think it was clear from the beginning that Wilbur saved his heart? I'm still on the fence on that.
He eventually did, yes. He probably wanted to do all along. But I'm not convinced it actually happened. Not like Brant is convinced.

Because the first ten years he was taking care of his money maker's ass (literally). In the sense that it didn't get TOO ravished. But saving his heart? Did he ever show emotion? Compassion?
He showed possessiveness (not even pride like he explained later) and a sense of security. But I'm not sure if Brant got anything resembling more of any emotion from him.

I think it was valid for the period they were going through anyway. Brant needed to be desensitized to go through what he had to go through. What Wilber did for him was probably the best and most that could have been done concerning the circumstances.
Apparently that was enough to save Brant's heart.

Hmmm, maybe I sorta do agree with you afterall.

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