Surviving the Merge (Book 1)
I’m all for atypical romance novels, now that I find myself with enough familiarity with the genre to recognize the usual plot beats. If you’re intrigued by a story that drops you immediately into the dark moment and doesn’t quite let up until the unexpected ending, look no further. However, there’s less angst than this implies and more about a character recognizing how unhealthy his relationship is and then being determined to come out the other side with his love intact.
My heart broke pretty consistently for Justin throughout this story, even though the character had his own share of unhealthy coping mechanisms. He has enough awareness to understand how dangerous his codependency with his husband is, but what makes this book unique is his husband’s Dissociative Identity Disorder. Justin has to deal with not one but two relationships, with his husband and his husband’s alter. Except the lines blur, and it becomes increasingly unclear which is Damon and which is Blake.
At its heart, this book might appeal to readers who struggle with supporting their partners through mental illness. I have no idea how “realistic” Damon/Blake’s situation is, but I do know this story isn’t for the faint of heart on either the emotional or sexual end of the spectrum. If you’re looking for a book to break your heart and only barely start to piece it back together but still ends on a pretty positive note, this is definitely worth checking out. I look forward to reading the next book, featuring secondary characters we meet here.
Surviving the Break (Book 2)
The second installment of this series does not deal with a specific mental illness, but it still explores a lot of emotional pain between the two main characters. Max, especially, carries a large load. The slow reveal of his history over the book’s course is handled excellently for maximum impact. On the other hand, Ash has his own baggage to deal with, and it’s honestly amazing how sorted he is based on his backstory (and friendship with Damon).
I tend to get irritated with characters who have such intense chemistry but insist on remaining apart for whatever reason the author has devised to create conflict. In this case, I did genuinely see both sides of the issue. Rather than smacking either Max or Ash, I mostly wanted them to get hugs. Eventually, their coming together is as explosive as promised, and ultimately satisfying once all the aforementioned baggage is handled. I have faith that these characters will persevere and live happily ever after.
The sexy bits in this story were delicious and fun, except when either man opened his mouth. The dialogue read more like a terrible porn movie than an actual encounter between two human beings. That often jerked me out of the story when I would have preferred to enjoy all aspects of this love story.