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Review: Tainted by Love by Gillian Jones

I saved Tainted by Love for last of my Gillian Jones reads for one main reason. I was told to prepare myself for an ugly cry. It took me 3 months to muster up the courage to crack open this book. And I finished it in 4 hours. 4 glorious hours and 3 all out sob fest's later, here I am. Mascara running down my face, my head aching from all the crying, and yet my heart is somehow light and optimistic. Only you, Gillian, could write a book that has this affect on me.

Story Line: Trinity may be my favorite leading lady of all time. She's bossy, smart mouthed and has the biggest heart on the planet. She's such a good person, that if I met her in person, I would probably make some smart remark to her like "overachiever" or maybe even call her a skank for no reason. Yeah, I'm petty like that. And then after being a total sarcastic jerk to her, I would learn that the blurb wasn't lying - that her blood is literally tainted. So I would hug her and then go find a shovel to dig myself out of that hole I just dug. On page 1 we learn why this book has "tainted" in the title. Trinity is HIV positive. Let that sink in. Now take every negative thought you have running around in that head of yours, and throw it out the window. This book is too beautiful for your negativity. Open your mind so you can truly appreciate the perfection of this book.

Hendrix meets Trinity at the garage her buys into. She's the bookkeeper for her uncle there. And once these two meet, they know there's something there. But since Trinity holds this diagnosis, she is fearful to let any type of relationship bloom beyond the friendzone. Thankfully, Hendrix is a rockstar and probably the most patient man on the planet. Because of him, they move forward together. One step at a time. And it's perfect. It's rainbows and kittens. It's good news and happy go lucky. Until it isn't. And then it is again. Here's your warning - you will adore Gillian Jones, then you will want to throw Fruit Loops at her, then you will want to give her a hug, and finally you will want to go to the grocery store and buy all the Fruit Loops so you can go home and sit at your dining room table eating said Fruit Loops while having yourself an ugly cry.

Interaction: Trinity goes around to schools giving speeches about HIV and educating the younger generation on the virus and what they can do to prevent it as well as how it truly can be transmitted. She's patient, kind, understanding and and so darn sweet with everyone she meets at these events. Mix that with Hendrix and his overprotective, flirty, loving and so sweet it hurts personality and what you have is an epic romance. EPIC.

Laundry: If you're like me, you have some reservations about this topic in a book where one of the main characters is HIV positive. I won't lie to you, I'm judgmental. I truly didn't know how this portion of the book would go. Would I still find it hot? Would I be able to get past the fact that she could potentially infect him each time? The answer is a hard YES. The laundry is still smoking hot. They are 100% safe each and every time. They leave no room for error or stupidity. So don't you worry your pretty little head over this. There's still PLENTY of laundry and it's probably the best out of all of Gillian's books. Seriously.

Depth: HIV is a really hard topic for me. I used to be best friends with a guy. In high school we were inseparable. We actually dated (and by dated I mean, held hands and went to movies together) for a hot second, until he told me he was bi, and my 16 year old brain said ew, that's weird, and we broke up. But we remained friends. Then, at a bar 5 years after we graduated, he sent me a text from across the table. He told me to check my phone. I could feel his eyes on me as I read the words I never thought could ever be possible - "I'm positive". It felt like our bubble of a world came crashing down at that moment. I watched my best friend go from doctor to doctor seeking the best treatment possible. That search ultimately took him to San Diego where he would eventually live with his partner he met in an online support group. Distance, time and maturity allowed us to grow apart. But not a day goes by that I don't think about him and pray for his health.

HIV is an incredibly difficult topic to talk about - with anyone it seems. There's a stigma to it and I truly feel like Gillian took every single one of those negative, derogatory thoughts and smashed them with a hammer. She addressed life with HIV with grace, compassion and education. Thank you, Gillian, for giving my friend and every single person living with HIV a story about hope above all else. Hope for a full life. And a life completely surrounded by love.

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