This book was a reading week filled with books with heavier topics and I ended up writing omg reviews about both books I read
This book is third in her VIP Series. The last one was published almost two years ago and while I read both previous books, I don’t remember a lot of the details. But I recall enjoying them and remembering Jax as the broody band member who had also previously attempted suicide. This book touches on Jax’s attempted suicide, although not in extreme graphicness. If that is a trigger for you, this book and review is not for you.
John (Jax’s given name) suffers from mental illness. His mental illness is depicted on page. He is sad. He is happy. He goes to therapy. He doesn’t go to therapy. He is functional. He also spends times being non-functioning. He participates in healthy and unhealthy activities. In my opinion, Callihan did a fantastic job portraying a mentally ill character and the highs and low of that. I realize that not every mentally ill person has a similar experience, but a lot of John’s felt realistic. This book was a pretty emotional read and during the black moment I had to skim that scene. Because it hurt. A lot. But because this is a romance, I knew Callihan would get us back to a better spot.
Stella was a fantastic heroine for John. She saw him for him, imperfections and all. And after the black moment and they worked it out, there was no feeling that it was magic. I felt like the characters knew they were going to have to keep working for their love and I LOVED it.
This book had some elements/topics that I don’t think we see enough of in romance. Logically I understand why, but that doesn’t stop me from wanting more realism in books.
- Suicide. According to the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention, Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in America. I think I have read less than five romances where a protagonist attempted suicide. It is far more common to see a side character, parent, friend, or someone else in the book either attempted or completed suicide. But with many things, the more we talk about it, the less we remove the stigma around it. The more we see it portrayed in media with kindness and compassion, we move closer to reducing stigma.
- Mental Illness. John appears to suffer from both anxiety and depression. I think we are seeing this depicted in romance and media in general more and more and it is helping to reduce the stigma surrounding it. I love to see all the nuance that can be applied to our fictional characters.
- Sexually Transmitted Infections. In a fictional world where lots of characters have unprotected sex, STIs are hardly ever a thing. I couldn’t find hard stats, but they are pretty common. For a genre that has a lot of sex in it, it sure is something we rarely ever talk about.
Anyway, heavy topics and all, I really enjoyed this book. John’s emotional arc was a bit painful at times, but wonderful to read. He really earned his HEA. Stella was a worthy heroine for John. She was tough in the ways she needed to be. She too deserved a wonderful HEA. I recommend this book for those that have read and enjoyed Callihan before. Or if you are looking for a fairly realistic, in my opinion, depiction of characters suffering from mental illness.