Review: Unquiet, by Melanie Hansen

Review Copy generously provided by the author
in exchange for an honest review.

Blurb:

cover-melaniehansen-unquietLoren Smith has been in love with Eliot Devlin almost his entire life. During their turbulent childhood and teen years, Loren didn’t always understand Eliot, and sometimes he could be a challenge, but Eliot was the only one to ever truly ease Loren’s deep loneliness and accept him. When Eliot’s increasingly erratic and self-destructive behavior culminates in a suicide attempt at seventeen, Loren is devastated.

Upon meeting again by chance nine years later, Loren is enjoying a successful career as a police officer while Eliot’s life has been a constant struggle for stability. In and out of mental hospitals, with a rap sheet a mile long, he continues to be buffeted by the twin storms of mania and depression. Loren’s love and protectiveness for Eliot are deeply ingrained in him, however, and their feelings for each other are quickly rekindled.

Loren has issues of his own he’s dealing with, and trying to understand and cope with Eliot’s bipolar disorder isn’t easy. They believe they’re meant to be, and Eliot brings a fulfillment to Loren’s life that no one else will ever match. But as they both come to realize, love by itself can’t cure all.


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Edition read:
January 22, 2016
Dreamspinner Press
Contemporary, M/M, GLBT+
296 e-book pages
3rd person
Resilient Love, book 3
April 14-17, 2016
Kindle Edition
See the book on GoodReads.

Rating:     ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.5

Ratings are 1 to 5 stars and based mostly on GoodReads standards.
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Review:

This third book of the Resilient Love series was…wow. Gut-mangling.

I thought book two tore me to shreds. Ha! Clearly, that was just practice.

And, well, I’m feeling a little lost right now.

Part of me is all holy crap what a roller coaster of a ride. And part of me…wanted to run for the hills for my own safety.

The author included trigger warnings for me when she sent me a request to read and review. And boy, howdy. I personally don’t have a lot of emotional triggers, though I appreciate warnings so I know what I’m getting myself into. The warnings didn’t scare me, and I honestly didn’t do much to gird myself.

I should have girded.

This story digs DEEP into mental illness—way more than I anticipated.

This is not a glossy, pencil-whipped tale that includes a character who has psychological problems. Instead, this is a raw, no-holds-barred dissection of a man with a nearly debilitating mental illness and of the people who love him — who struggle to love him the best way for him, and themselves. At its core, it is full of compassion, kindness, and humanity with bouts of gut-shredding angst and feelings of helplessness.

Eliot is all over the place with Bipolar disorder with broad swings between profound mania and depression. His meds, when he takes them, barely seem to keep him on an even keel on top of the aggravating, disheartening side effects. I can barely draw on a few personal experiences of a few people I know with, what I think are, mild forms of Bipolar. What I know from a first hand-third-party position barely scratches the surface of what I experienced reading this book. I adored Eliot and wanted him to have all the love in the world along with some freaking relief and peace.

Trying to put myself in his shoes…impossible, still unimaginable. Trying to put myself in the author’s shoes for tackling this subject…I’m in awe. Because holy cow the pressure to shape this character into an authentic, believable personality.

What truly did it for me was the characterization of Loren. I adored Loren from the previous book in the series as the best friend. He’s strong, smart, and sex-on-a-stick hot. But…he makes mistakes. Big ones. I loved that he wasn’t perfect. I loved that he second (and third, and fourth) guessed his commitment to Eliot. I loved how he sometimes forgot to communicate. It made him so very human. Though a calming touchstone to Eliot, he wasn’t a cure…couldn’t be…to Eliot’s host of issues. But Loren never stopped working out how to be what Eliot needed and figuring out how to get his own emotional fulfillment.

This was deeply beautiful, two men creating a life together that’s so heavily weighted toward one partner’s needs when most romances tend to work toward balancing the playing field between them.

These MCs had been tied together by their heartstrings since childhood, and I’m delighted they got their HEA. Though…I honestly couldn’t have blamed Loren one bit had he walked away and searched for an easier path.

All that said, I had a hard time fully connecting to Eliot and Loren. I’m positive that’s because the mental illness aspects became so heavy that I quickly built a fortress around my heart to prevent getting too close. This isn’t me being critical of the writing or the handling of the portrayal of mental illness. I found it to be immensely brave and super well done. I was definitely engaged and hooked to every word…just from a safe distance.

The epilogue brings all couples from the series together for some catch-up and fun in the sun. It was nice to see them all together. But there was an awful lot that took place between the time the three books ended and the Three Years Later epilogue. Major life-altering highs and lows were packed in that short chapter and got a little confusing. I love epilogues assuring me all is well with characters I’ve grown to love. But, I kinda think these guys might have been better served with a follow-up novella to help fill in some of the gaps.

All in all, I stand by earlier review statements and say this is definitely an author to keep on radar — and go ahead and get acquainted with her work if you haven’t already. She definitely upped her game with this book, and I can’t wait to see what she gives us next!

This review also posted on GoodReads.

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