Book Reviews

The Beast I Loved: A Battered Woman’s Desperate Struggle to Survive by Robert Davidson


The Beast I Loved: A Battered Woman’s Desperate Struggle to Survive tells the story of June Briand. In February 1987, after five years of marriage, she shot and killed her husband James. Convicted of first-degree murder, Briand served ten years of a fifteen year sentence before being pardoned.

This true crime offering paints a grim picture of June Briand’s life, telling readers about a woman who suffered abuse throughout her life. Her marriage to James Briand was filled with brutal violence, until finally—fearing he would kill her after discovering she was planning to leave him—June took his life, shooting him while he slept.

I read this book in a matter of hours, unable to stop reading about this tragic story until I reached the end. Writing this review has been problematic for me, and it took me a while to figure out why. The Beast I Loved only tells June’s side of the story. While her side would obviously be the focus of the book, not including a rebuttal of events from members and/or a representative of the Briand family leaves the book feeling unbalanced.

Was June justified in shooting him as a result of suffering from Battered Woman’s Syndrome, as illustrated in the book? Or was she a cold-blooded killer who was never abused by her husband, as the Briand family maintains? Either way, June’s actions that night irrevocably changed not only her life, but the lives of everyone who loved James Briand.

I received an advance reading copy of this book courtesy of WildBlue Press via Netgalley.

Add to Goodreads

Author: Robert Davidson
Title: The Beast I Loved: A Battered Woman’s Desperate Struggle to Survive
Genre: True Crime
Published: March 13, 2018 by WildBlue Press
Rating: 3 stars

About the Book

Before domestic violence hot lines and safe houses were widespread, June Briand shot four bullets into her husband’s head and was sentenced to fifteen years to life. This is the shocking true story of survival—and the intense bond June shared with her pathologically violent husband, a monster who physically and sexually tortured, degraded and dominated her so relentlessly that she refused to believe he was dead even after she killed him.

What kind of woman would slay her own husband? What kind of man would drive her to do it? Why didn’t she just leave him? Based on hundreds of hours interviewing June Briand, speaking with her lawyers, and poring over countless pages of court transcripts, police and hospital records, and interviews with virtually every key person involved with this case, the author explores those difficult questions while exposing the twisted dynamics of a relationship that enslaves a woman—and drives her to kill the beast she loved when she was finally out of hope, out of time, and out of her mind.

At once terrifying and maddening, heartrending and ultimately exhilarating—including an unforgettable glimpse inside a maximum security prison—THE BEAST I LOVED is a book you won’t soon forget.

About the Author

ROBERT DAVIDSON speaks nationally and has written numerous columns for various
publications. In The Beast I Loved, originally published by Ballantine Books in 2000 under the title Fighting Back, now revised and updated with new material, he examines family dysfunction, the psychology of violence, and the resulting tragedy. He was the winner of New England’s venerable Seacoast Writers Association award for Best Nonfiction.

He also wrote How Good Parents Raise Great Kids, published by Warner Books, in which he discussed successful childrearing and the keys to personal fulfillment. Excerpts from the book have appeared in Good Housekeeping, Woman’s Day, and Family Life, and it has been translated into eight foreign languages.