THIS IS HOW YOU WRITE ABOUT MENTAL ILLNESS!! If you know me at all, you know I tend to be pretty passionate about mental health. I regularly rate books lower when they use portray mental health issues incorrectly, particularly when those issues are magically solved by falling in love. That’s not how it works, that’s not how any of it works. It is a daily fight and there are days when having someone to fight by your side helps and there are other days when it can become a hindrance; Claudia Burgoa illustrated those struggles brilliantly in this book.
While I don’t have much personal experience with the types of mental illness portrayed in this book, I do have experience with others as well as a functional knowledge of what the types of things Willow and Hunter were dealing with can be like, through my training as a crisis counselor. I absolutely loved seeing the way those intense mood swings and anxiety attacks were portrayed in writing. I have a hard enough time explaining what an anxiety attack can feel like to people I’m physically in front of with all of the words and body language at my disposal, it was amazing to see how Ms. Burgoa was able to shift the tone of thought so thoroughly almost mid-sentence.
My hands down favorite part of this book was that Willow and Hunter both took the necessary steps to get well by themselves before committing to anything together. Love can look like a bandage that will heal anything, but if you don’t treat the wound correctly it will only fester and get infected under that bandage until you can no longer ignore it. The fact that they had the strength and foresight to see that they needed to work on themselves alone before they could work on being an ‘us’ was wonderfully refreshing in a romance novel. Honestly, I would have loved to have seen a little more of their actual treatment, as I always find that fascinating, but not including it did not take away from the story in the least bit.
There were a few times in the book I had a hard time knowing when a passage had transitioned from present to recent past back to present. Paragraphs would seemingly be in the present, then recap off-page events, then continue on in the present; I found myself, on more than one occasion, confused by how we’d ended up in certain a place or time. It didn’t detract much from the story, it just made a few moments more confusing than they needed to be.
This is the first time I’ve read anything by Claudia Burgoa. If this book was indicative of her other writing I’ll be checking out her backlist as well as anything she has coming up on her release radar. I will most definitely be waiting to see more of the secondary characters from this book. Willow’s sister was very intriguing, as were the other Everhart brothers. I can’t wait to see how things play out for all of them.