Unwanted; The Unlucky Ones #1
(#1 within a series)
Publication Date: May 21, 2022
Genre/Tropes: Second Chance/Addiction/MM Romance/Found Family
Author: Marley Valentine
Review Rating: 5 Gold Stars
A very emotional, second chance at life, at romance, at a new beginning.
Unwanted isn’t just a story about foster kids finding love, or finding support, or their new family. It’s a combination of all of that plus it’s a deep look into the heart of addiction and forever journey on the road to recovery.
I’ve shared before that I will read anything and jump into any trope, I basically have zero limitations when it comes to reading romance. However, like any human being there is one topic that can sometimes push me just a little too far and that is drug abuse. My family has lived through this nightmare with my brother and it never fails to reopen those wounds again every single time. So while I gripped the pages and prepared my heart to read Unwanted, I am proud to say that Marley Valentine wrote a beautiful story that didn’t cut open old wounds, but instead filled my heart with overwhelming love. She captured the heartbreak during addiction and poured out the guilt and shame that both men felt during that dark time. It’s easy to forget that drug abuse is a shame spiral that only gets worse to hide a bigger issue. Everyone’s issue is different, but at the heart of addiction there is always one and Marley doesn’t gloss over it or take this issue casually.
What I appreciated more was how this book tackled recovery. It was a beautiful reminder that every addict and their support people eventually find a point where they are filled with pride and love and that everyday is a process and everyday is still a journey. While love doesn’t fix every problem, nor should it be to an addict, it’s a hug, or a safety net, or a reminder to your loved one that you are there for support. Marley couldn’t have written a better roadmap for the emotional journey of addiction, with a side story of romance, than she did in this book.
Let me take just a moment to talk about the actual romance because it is integral, but it also feels like a side character to everything else. Arlo and Frankie’s love is a second chance romance, but it is steeped in heartbreak and history. They grew up in the foster system and fell down the addiction road together, but when it came to getting out Frankie did and Arlo took a darker path. Unwanted contains all of their foster siblings and several real life issues that makes this a very touching story. While this could have been overwhelming with so many secondary characters it actually wasn’t and I’m looking forward to returning to this world and reading more about each one.
I know I hardly touched on the romance aspect in this review, but like I said, it was seamless and just blended into everything else. It’s hard to dissect when it’s connected to the darkness and light of everything else so I’ll let you discover their second chance and encourage you into reading this story instead.
Two halves of a whole, Arlo Bishop and I were both unwanted kids brought together by the foster system. Dealing with the aftermath of neglect and abandonment, we grew up side by side and found solace in one another.
But somewhere along the way, Arlo wanted and needed and loved drugs more. So, I did the only thing I could and broke my own heart to save his.
Now, four years later, I’m back in L.A. and face-to-face with my past. Not only does the pain and hurt of our mistakes linger between us but so do our feelings.
I didn’t plan on a second chance—fear of history repeating itself making it hard to forgive and even harder to forget. But with only one touch, one kiss, I was taken back to where it all started.
Two halves of a whole, Arlo and I were made for each other. But we were no longer the unwanted foster kids.
We were grown men.
And I wanted nothing more than him.