Justin and Damon have been in love since they met in high school years ago. The moment Damon saw Justin, he wanted the goodness that Justin exuded. The men are now married and Justin is now fully aware that Damon is only one part of the whole person. Damon has Dissociative Identity Disorder and for the last five years, it has been Blake, Damon’s alter, that Justin has been living with.
Justin and Damon’s earlier relationship was obsessive and co-dependent and an incident one night was the catalyst for trauma that threatened to break them. Justin tried hard to pick up the pieces of himself and their relationship, and when Damon couldn’t handle it, he left Justin with Blake. Damon is darkness and control and Blake is tender and warm and Justin craves both halves of his husband. And, after five years, Damon has reemerged. Except, Damon has no interest in coexisting with Blake.
Through intense therapy and Justin’s never-ending strength and love, the journey begins to merge Damon and Blake. Damon, who has suffered horrific trauma in his childhood, is not at all on board in the beginning and it’s a true battle to get him to want to accept change. Told through Justin’s POV as he is outnumbered in his life with one man, it will be a tough road for them all to survive the merge.
The darker books always catch my attention and C.P Harris is a new author to me as this is the author’s debut book. I have seen this book mentioned several times and this Reading Challenge was a great time to finally open it.
As you would expect from the description, this is a story that lives on the edge and can be a harder book to read. Damon suffered such horrific emotional and physical abuse as a child that his mind fractured and one day Blake emerged. When Justin met Damon, he had no way of knowing this at first, but Justin fell hard for Damon and then for Blake. If it sounds confusing, author C.P. Harris lays it out easily, although when the book opens it might take a moment to orient to the fact that Damon and Blake are both two halves of one person.
Justin and Blake are living successful lives and Justin tries to keep the trauma that he has suffered out of his mind. He has been living with Blake for years and not even Blake can feel Damon anymore. They rarely discuss Damon, as Justin feels he was the catalyst that sparked life changing trauma for Justin, but there are lies been told that Justin is not aware of.
This book is a lot of things and Harris really gets into the relationship Justin has with Blake and with Damon. Blake is the one that appears to be stable on the outside and is warm and tender, always putting Justin first. Damon is dark and possessive and obsessive and the hardcore and often violent intimate relationship Justin has with Damon is what Justin craves as well. But there is no reasoning with Damon and, while Damon loves Justin, he can’t express this. Damon has had no chance to process any of his trauma and his mind and emotions haven’t been able to evolve and process all of the grief—and there is a lot of horrible grief and trauma to process.
I liked this book most of the way through and was really caught up in the relationships Justin was having with Damon and Blake. It’s not easy at all to merge the two and Justin barely wavers his support of them, even though he is put through so much. The ending and wrap up stalled out for me for a few reasons. How Blake’s job was dealt with wasn’t thorough enough for me. In the beginning, we see him as Blake at work, which is all that the employees know. Then we’re told he’s there as Damon and then, as the merge starts happening, there is no further discussion, even if the staff are now referring to Blake as Damon and I felt Blake as a character got a little lost at the end. Also, the side characters weren’t balanced for me. There is a side story toward the end with one of Justin’s friends that took too much time away from more pivotal points with the men for me. Also, one of Damon’s friends, Ash, is a central part of his life and is spoken about often throughout the book, but we don’t learn much about him until further along.
Damon, Blake, and Justin give us a glimpse into a life that is not often seen from the inside. Their relationship was unique and it was an interesting journey to take with them. There will be more books in this series and I will be looking out for what those characters have to survive.
Note: Surviving the Merge is on sale for $0.99 on Amazon through the end of September.
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