Title: Perfectly Damaged
Author: E.L. Montes
Genre: New Adult Contemporary Romance
Release Date: May 9 2014
Schizoaffective disorder: a mental illness in which a person experiences a combination of mood disorder and schizophrenia symptoms.
I know about this illness—very well—because I suffer from it. It’s been four years since my diagnosis, and ever since, I’ve been living in a dark hole. Voices constantly invading my thoughts. Hallucinations. All of which force me to question if what I’m experiencing is even reality.But here I am, still hanging on, still breathing and living through it.That is, until he stumbled into my life. Logan Reed. I don’t want any part of him. I’ve pushed him away, but he isn’t easily deterred. I’ve told him I’m different, but he doesn’t care. He’s trying to slowly break me down. I’m trying just as hard not to let him. He doesn’t know how truly damaged I am; what will happen when he does?I know the truth—he’ll never be able to look at me the same way again.
Just like everybody else.
“The Monster”, Eminem & Rihanna
Perfectly Damaged is my first book by E.L. Montes. Well, color me impressed. This author has taken on a tough topic and somehow weaved a beautiful love story with a powerful message of acceptance at its core. This is a real and honest portrayal and look into the struggles of one young woman. However, at the heart of the matter, is the simple fact that, like anyone else, what she needed was love and acceptance. In finding this, she finally could learn to love and accept herself. We all carry burdens and struggle with personal demons, some more than others, but life is a lot easier when you have someone to hold your hand and help you along the way no matter how tough it gets.
Jenna McDaniels is a twenty-one year old young woman who suffers from a mental illness, schizoaffective disorder to be exact. Life is a constant struggle against the darkness that threatens to engulf her wholly and completely. A struggle to simply grasp onto reality. Fighting against the voices constantly invading her thoughts and the hallucinations has Jenna barely managing to keep her head above water. Matters have only progressed from bad to worse since the death of her older sister – the one person who fully accepted and supported Jenna. She lives with an abundance of extreme highs and lows; but, lately, the lows seem to keep Jenna in an almost constant state of grief and despair. Her best friend, Charlie, is wonderfully supportive, but Jenna finds herself just…..struggling. With a loving father who is hardly ever home and a mother who looks at her with disdain, Jenna is unprepared for Logan. For the first time in a long time, the chance to “feel” once again, feel alive, is within reach. Will Jenna take the chance?
Twenty-six year old Logan Reed works for his uncle’s construction company, a company that has been hired to build a guest house for the McDaniels. When Logan first encounters Jenna they definitely don’t get off to a great start. Logan takes notice of the perplexing girl not only because she is beautiful but also because she is probably the only female that has not fallen instantly for his “charms”. As Logan comes across Jenna more and more, he begins to realize that there is something going on with her, something he is unable to pinpoint and decipher. The fact is, Logan is no stranger to loss and heart-ache and he recognizes the haunted look in Jenna’s eyes. He understands that she is dealing with internal demons and he wants to be there for her, to save her.
This book was most assuredly a slow burn. There was no insta-anything. Jenna and Logan slowly begin to spend time together and establish a connection which turns into something profoundly more. Jenna is lost in her own mind. Ms. Montes does an amazing job of giving her reader a glimpse into the mind of someone who is dealing with a mental illness. I felt Jenna’s fears, frustrations, grief and pain. I understood how hard it would be for her to allow someone into her world of turmoil and leave herself openly vulnerable to their judgments. For me, the most touching and profound aspect of this story was Jenna’s personal journey. Yes, there is a sweet love story that is told. But, ultimately, this book is about a young woman who finds the strength to take a chance. The strength to learn to live and love once again. To feel alive. In doing so, Jenna learned how to accept who she is and love the woman she is underneath all the complex layers.
“You’re stronger than you think, Jersey girl.”
“I’m falling deeper and deeper into an ocean filled with nothing but emotions for Logan Reed.”
“I’m falling for you. Hard. And it's not some bullshit girl-next-door crush.” He stumbles back two steps. “I mean a real fucking hardcore, madly-sinking-for-you kind of fall. I don’t know."
Logan was such an amazing character. He was definitely not perfect and made his share of mistakes when it came to how he handled Jenna; but, at the heart of the matter, Logan was simply a young man who fell in love. I love the fact that Logan did not give up and was not easily deterred. Jenna had a hard time allowing him in and giving Logan a part of herself that she shared with so few others. Logan was kind, strong, patient and loving – everything Jenna needed. Logan saw how special Jenna truly was and he was willing to fight for her, willing to stand by her side and make some hard choices when it came to her mental disorders. There were a couple of scenes that were heart-breaking but that is what makes this book so moving. This author does not take on the subject of mental illness only to cover it with sweet smelling roses. No. She tackles this topic with brutal honesty. There is no sugar-coating that life with someone who deals with a mental illness is hard and can be painful. No matter what though, when love is in the picture, a true and unconditional love that looks beyond imperfections, the tough times are over-shadowed by the amazingly joyful moments that make life worth living.
This book took a little while for me to get into but when I did, it hit me on a personal level. You see, I have a young son who is on the autism spectrum. One of my biggest fears in life is having people judge my son and not give him the chance to show who he truly is. Not many people are willing to look outside societal norms and look past people who do not fit into that socially acceptable box we all struggle to cram ourselves into. The message of acceptance in this book is a powerful one. Sometimes when you meet someone who is beyond what most consider “normal” or “typical” we find the greatest treasure. We find the greatest kind of love. I love the fact that E.L. Montes took a huge risk and tackled such a taboo subject with a masterful hand. In doing so, she has managed to provide a wonderfully compassionate story that takes on the stereotypes surrounding mental illness head on. The world needs more people like Charlie (Jenna’s best friend) and Logan and I hope and pray that my son will encounter brave individuals who will love and accept him for who he is.
All in all, Perfectly Damaged is a book worth reading. I would have liked to see a little more at the end when it came to Jenna’s and Logan’s relationship, perhaps an epilogue. After all, this is still a romance despite the hard look into the world of mental illness. I would have liked to see more into what the future held for our heroine and hero. I went into this book not really knowing what to expect and I sure am happy that I decided to give it a chance. I walked away happily sighing but also with more of an understanding of how much of a difference love and acceptance can truly have on someone’s life. This is a beautiful tale that touched my heart. I hope you decide to give this book a chance, just like I did.
About The Author
ELMontes is giving away Amazon Giftcards to celebrate the release of Perfectly Damaged. For your chance to win, just enter the Rafflecopter below and Good Luck!!a Rafflecopter giveaway