As a six year old, Loren didn’t have a close friend until Eliot moved in next door. Looking back, Loren knows he has been in love with Eliot since that very first meeting. As they grew up, Loren became a star high school football player while Eliot dyed his hair blue and lived the life of a stoner. Loren didn’t always understand Eliot and his unstable moods, but their friendship remained solid and true until Eliot attempted suicide in their senior year.
Nine years pass and the men meet again under unusual circumstances. Loren has had success as a police officer while Eliot has only continued to spiral out of control. Any kind of stable life is a struggle and Eliot has been arrested, been to doctors, been in psychiatric hospitals, and been given numerous medications all to no avail. All Loren sees is his old friend and the need to protect and love Eliot is in the forefront once again.
Loren has never been out at work but is determined to have a life with Eliot. But living with someone with bipolar disorder is challenging on a good day. Even when Eliot finally decides to do everything in his power to get his life under control, the disease and his moods can shift at any time and, while Loren loves and supports him, he certainly can’t cure him.
Unquiet is heavy and emotional and in part it is due to the subject matter itself and part is due to the well written and realistic approach that Hansen takes. This book is part of the Resilient Love series and Loren and Eliot’s story is unique to this book. Loren was seen in the previous book, some of the other MCs make an appearance as well, and the scenes with Kai were a welcome addition for further closure to their story, but for the most part it can be read as a standalone.
Loren and Eliot meet as boys and just get each other immediately. Even when they took separate paths in school, they remained true to each other. Loren never understood Eliot’s mood shifts, but he loved his friend completely, and since he was a kid, it wasn’t until much later on that Loren even knew there was a serious problem. Both boys’ parents were always at work and Eliot’s behavior often went unchecked. When Eliot tries to take his own life, his parents keep Loren away from him and it’s an ache that neither man ever recovered from.
While Loren is now a successful policeman working his way up, Eliot has hit rock bottom several times. His illness is described as rapid cycling, which allows the mania and the depression to swing quickly and wildly. Eliot has tried a serious medication regime in the past, but the demons will not rest. He self-medicates with alcohol and since the disease causes hypersexuality as well, he finds himself with many partners and encounters that he doesn’t remember.
Loren is completely devoted to Eliot and certainly keeps trying. But trying to make a life with Eliot is challenging in ways he never knew were possible. Loren isn’t perfect, he makes mistakes, and he has to come to terms that being with Eliot may mean altering his own dreams or priorities. His job keeps him away from home often and the high risk factor of his career tips Eliot’s anxiety. When we are not in Eliot’s mind, there is no true break as we are then with Loren and his sexual trafficking cases. The case shows how intense Loren’s job is and how he needs to remain fully focused while at work, but other than that I didn’t feel that the vast amount of police work we are shown added to the overall story.
There is no doubt that this is a love story. However, the men face a lifetime of challenges, they can never turn their back on Eliot’s illness, and for every up there is a down. It’s not a mental health manual and was never supposed to be one, but it’s highly informative and offers realistic expectations that love won’t cure Eliot. But, with Loren’s support it can give Eliot something to grab onto and fight for survival.
I would recommend this book for a story that offers a never-ending first love, true love story that also hits hard in its honesty of life with mental illness.
“When you walk away, I’m going to pray you’re the one who comes back.”
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.