Author ~ Melanie Hansen
Publisher ~ Dreamspinner Press
Published ~ 22nd January 2016
Genre ~ Contemporary M/M Romance
Loren 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.
“Do you see the moon, Loren?”
Unquiet is the third book in Melanie Hansen’s Resilient Love series. This is loosely tied to book two in this series and while we do get a glimpse at how the couple from the second book is doing, you can certainly read this book as a stand-alone.
If I am to be completely honest, this is a book that has left me deeply conflicted and not in a good way. I do not think I have ever finished a book and was immediately perplexed as to how I should rate the said book. I want to start by saying that I am an emotional reader and I tend to rate books according to how they make me feel. If I were to do that with this book, I perhaps would have rated it 1 star. I hated the fact that I was so damn sad and angry for most of the book. With this being said, Unquiet challenged me. The book is well written but it took everything in me to keep reading. I experienced such a plethora of emotions while immersed in this book, most of them darkening my mood. So why the heck would I give this book 4.5 stars then? It’s simple. This book made me feel. Sure, it was often not good emotions. But, nonetheless, I became wholeheartedly involved in the twisted imperfection that was Loren and Eliot. I ached for them. I got angry. I loathed what was happening. I became completely entrenched in this fucked up and messy story.
Loren Smith and Eliot Devlin met as young children when they became neighbours. From that moment on they became the best of friends and spent their childhood and beyond creating memories. They developed a strong bond that was never severed despite the fact that their lives seemed to be on different paths. Throughout the highs and lows of school and life, Loren and Eliot were there for one another never quite crossing that line into something more than friends. That changed when they were in high school and they finally succumbed to the deep feelings they had for one another. However, by now it is very evident that Eliot suffers from a mental illness and he is headed down a very destructive path. Everything falls apart when Eliot attempts to take his own life at the age of seventeen. Both young men are separated and are forced to move on with their lives.
Fast forward nine years later and Loren has fulfilled his dream of becoming a police officer. He works hard and his life is stable. He’s never forgotten Eliot and just assumed that he got the help he needed and was now happy. A chance encounter between Loren and Eliot suddenly thrusts them back into high school all over again. The feelings, the profound connection…. It’s all still there. Loren also discovers that Eliot’s life has been anything but sunshine and roses. Suffering from bipolar disorder as well as anxiety, Eliot whirlwind of a life is filled with extreme highs and lows. Loren is unwilling to walk away from Eliot this time and they both decide to give their relationship another try. Can Loren be the one to help Eliot face his demons head-on or will he be led down the path of destruction right along with the man he loves?
Going into this book I had no idea that I would experience such a disturbing, unbridled and messy relationship. Ms. Hansen does not sugar-coat what it is like to love someone with a mental illness. It can be agonizing and painful. I felt so heart-broken as I immersed myself in this tumultuous journey. After having contemplated this story for a bit of time, I am still unsure as to whether I was even able to emotionally connect with Eliot himself. I understood that he is a prisoner to his disorder; however, the constant darkness that surrounded Eliot was hard to take. Many times I felt like Loren just needed to walk away and be done with Eliot. His love for Eliot was inexplicable and truly transcended my understanding.
At the crux of this entire story and reading experience is Eliot himself. I truly disliked him for most of the book, maybe even loathed him at times. And, let me tell you, I feel like utter shite that I felt like that about someone with a mental illness. He was just such an emotional wreck diving head-first into a pool of turmoil and pain. My emotions for Eliot mostly culminated around being completely furious at him and also being stunned and saddened at how he drew Loren into all his murkiness and gloom because of his actions. Usually when I read about broken and despondent characters I always want them to get to their happy place and find love. I can’t say that this occurred with Eliot. With this being said, I do feel like the author ends the book in a very realistic manner. Like I indicated before, Ms. Hansen portrays that loving Eliot and all that entails will always be an ongoing uphill climb that can be exhausting.
Do not go into this book hoping to experience a love story that will leave you sighing and all sappy, completely engrossed in the passion the two protagonists share. Nope. Yet, despite totally exemplifying how hard and painful love can be at times, Loren and Eliot somehow make it through the cloudiness and despair. They somehow withstand the challenges and are unable to walk away from one another. Was it healthy and beautiful? Hell no. Was it real and achingly raw? Absolutely.
How much would you risk and sacrifice for the sake of love?
As much as I had a hard time with a lot of what transpired in this book, I would remiss if I did not acknowledge the fact that Ms. Hansen did a stellar job accurately depicting issues that are very real and that can be the uglier side of living with a mental illness. This precise and truthful interpretation is ultimately why I am giving this book 4.5 stars. I guess I eventually came full circle when it comes to my feelings for this book. While I most definitely disliked Eliot at times and all the unpredictability and volatility that came with him, I can no longer state that I don’t understand it. At some point compassion needs to come into play. After all, we are all fucked up in one way or another. For some it just happens to be more of an extreme.
All in all, Unquiet is not a book that I took lightly. I think this is a book that if you are interested in you should give it a go and form your own opinion. I believe that many will have a hard time with this book while others will embrace the crazy expedition. The beauty of reading is ultimately experiencing books for ourselves and forming our own opinions. Therefore, if this book interests you, give it a go. Just don’t come seeking me out if you need therapy afterwards. ;)