Story Rating: 4.5 stars
Audio Rating: 5 stars
Narrator: Michael Ferraiuolo
Length: 7 hours, 23 minutes
Riley was kidnapped as a six-year old and held against his will for four years. When he was rescued, his parents abandoned him to the state. In and out of group homes and foster care, Riley never got the help, support, or care that he needed and spun out of control. Years later, a suicide attempt lands him in a psychiatric hospital as an involuntary patient and, since he refuses to open up to anyone or even play the game to get himself out, he is deemed a “lifer” and has already been there for 19 months.
Hunter was drowning himself in booze and pills. He once had a love of a lifetime, but when life became too much for his boyfriend to handle, he turned to drugs and Hunter found his body in their college dorm room. Hunter now finds himself inexplicably on the same path and when a night of too much fun turns into an overdose, it’s deemed as a suicide attempt and his estranged sister has him committed.
Hunter and Riley are both alone. Riley, with no family or friends to turn to, is a complete mess and Hunter can be lonely in a room full of people. The men find an instant connection as roommates in the hospital, but that too comes with its own set of troubles and the men are only allowed stolen moments to be together. Hunter doesn’t want to let himself think of a life with Riley outside of the hospital, as there are no guarantees that Riley will ever be released. Riley has to find a way to dig deeper and try to heal himself first and only then can he even dream of a future with Hunter.
This story packs an emotional punch right from the prologue as Riley is being saved from his abduction. All he wants is to go home and see his parents, but he wakes in a hospital after his parents have abandoned him. The story then moves ahead 11 years and we are only given a brief glimpse that his life had been about foster homes and group homes, but no real details are offered on that part of his life or on what happened to him during his abduction. There are a lot of issues this book brings to it, including child abduction, parent abandonment, depression, suicide, and drug abuse. It’s definitely not an easy read at times and I also attribute that to the absolutely stellar performance of the narrator.
Riley’s story is heartbreaking and then the aftermath continues to break him. He never got any help after being recovered and was given no direction, but he maintains a sweetness about him. The only person to care for him and who he had a connection with was a former patient who became a close friend, but he too was lost to him. Riley just goes through the motions, doesn’t participate much in therapy, and life isn’t looking to promising for him until Hunter arrives.
Hunter never recovered from finding his boyfriend dead and on the day of his mother’s funeral he takes his partying too far. Hunter doesn’t have any real friends, just drinking buddies, but when Riley and Hunter first meet they just get each other. It’s clear that Hunter’s time at the hospital is limited and will be released in a matter of months, but that’s all it takes and the men take advantage of any moment they have together to create memories that may have to last a lifetime. Hunter is incredibly patient with Riley and wants to do right by him and for the first time Riley feels needed by another person. There are setbacks along the way, but even when they can’t be physically together they find ways to continue to support each other.
I would have liked some more back story on Riley as the story is primarily about him being able to move forward. We are never told why his parents abandoned him after his rescue, what happened to the abductors, or what he really went through trying to acclimate back into society as a young boy and these were all pieces that went to Riley’s state of mind. The hospital itself was not explained well either. We are told that these are not violent patients, yet every time there was a defiant word said, the beginning of an outburst, or even a sleepless night, the patients are immediately sedated. There wasn’t a clear explanation given of his doctors and what their true method of therapy was for Riley. Also, the men don’t spend that much time together. The story is first and foremost about needing to be able to take care of yourself emotionally, but I enjoyed these guys as a couple and would have liked to have seen more scenes of them together.
Michael Ferraiuolo was the narrator here and he truly gave an impressive performance. This book is a quieter, slower story and his performance kept me captivated. His general speaking voice is rich and clear with a smooth tone. He added little touches of sensitivity and vulnerability to draw the emotion out whether the characters were near tears or going through one of the many emotional passages offered. Hunter’s confession was not only well written with a layered and kaleidoscope effect, but Ferraiuolo brought the entire scene to a new level through his performance. As the book takes place in Louisiana, some of the characters had stronger regional accents and voices such as Shane/Bubba added a lightness and a smile to otherwise heavy dialogue. There were a few female characters that were passed by throughout the book and even those voices were performed well. I do feel like Ferraiuolo greatly enhanced this book for me and We Found Love is a highly recommended audio performance.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.