Love Me Whole by Nicky James

Title: Love Me Whole Word Count:339 pgs
Genre: Contemporary Gay Romance

Blurb:Twenty-eight-year-old Oryn Patterson isn’t like other people. Being an extremely shy, social introvert is only part of the problem. Oryn has dissociative identity disorder. He may look like a normal man on the outside, but spend five minutes with him, and his daily struggles begin to show.

Oryn shares his life and headspace with five distinctively different alters. Reed, a protective, very straight jock. Cohen, a flamboyantly gay nineteen-year-old who is a social butterfly. Cove, a self-destructive terror, whose past haunts him. Theo, an asexual man of little emotion, whose focus is on maintaining order. And Rain, a five-year-old child whose only concern is Batman.

Vaughn Sinclair is stuck in a rut. When his job doesn’t offer the same thrill it once did, he decides it’s time to mix-up his stagnant, boring routine. Little does he know, the man he meets during an impromptu decision to return to college is anything but ordinary.

Vaughn’s heart defies logic, and he finds himself falling in love with this strange new man. But how can you love someone who isn’t always themself? It may not be easy, but Vaughn is determined to try.

My Review: Love me whole, the title on this one is oh so profound. Oftentimes we’ve heard the phrase ‘if you love me , you have to love all of me’. Well, it is certainly true in this case. Oryn Patterson is a young man who is diagnosed with Dissociative Identity Disorder formerly known as Multiple Personality Disorder. For me, usually when I hear multiple personality I think of someone who hears voices or I associate it with movies that I’ve watched where they have a serial killer lurking in their bodies, all stereotypical stuff. To get a glimpse into Oryn’s life is very thought provoking,intriguing and very informative.

When Vaughn Sinclair decides to go back to college on a whim, he knows he is way more mature than the twenty something crowd. When he meets shy Oryn in one of his classes he quickly befriends him. Oryn seems to be the odd man out and Vaughn thinks he needs a friend. It doesn’t hurt that Oryn is super cute. Oryn is quick to stutter through an explanation of why they shouldn’t be friends, but Vaughn is determined. Vaughn noticed a few oddities in Oryn’s behaviour but it isn’t until they partner up on a project that Oryn confesses his condition to Vaughn.

Vaughn is not deterred and he goes about researching DID and what it means for Oryn. He learns that Dissociative Identity Disorder manifests as a self protective mechanism that the mind uses to shield a person who has endured long term extreme sexual, physical or psychological abuse.Vaughn learns about alters and how they should be treated as separate beings. Oryn has explained that his body ‘houses’ 5 alters :Reed is ultra-protective and he doesn’t like when Vaughn gets too close; Cohen is Oryn’s opposite, very self assured, flamboyant and flirty; then there is Rain, a five year old boy who loves Batman and dinosauars with the innocence only a child could possess. There is also Theo and Cove, two others who Vaughn has not met at this point.

Vaughn tries really hard to understand, because he really likes Oryn. They become closer over time, but Oryn explains that it will probably be hard for him to be in a relationship, but he doesn’t totally rule it out. It is clear to see that Oryn clings to hope that with the help of his therapist, he will one day be able to have a ‘normal’ life where all his alters can be a functioning cohesive unit. As it stands, there are some alters who fight Oryn for dominance over his dominion which is his body and mind. Vaughn is understandably uncomfortable when other alters are triggered. It is usually within a split second where Oryn will switch to Reed without warning. This is the worst for Vaughn as Reed is openly hostile and such a vastly different persona than quiet, shy Oryn. Oryn’s voice changes from soft spoken to Reed’s raspier tones and his stance is aggressive and intimidating. On the other hand, Cohen comes out to play when there is any social functions, he is quite the social butterfly. As time goes on and Vaughn is exposed to Cohen’s 19 yr old persona, he is definitely attracted to his overt sexuality , but he becomes conflicted and feels guilty at their flirtations. Cohen tries to push their relationship over into the sexual realm, something that it seems Oryn cannot be a part of. Vaughn is torn in two, because he wishes that his interactions with Cohen could be what he had with Oryn. Now that he sees them as separate entities, he feels like he is cheating even though the ‘relationship’ he has with Oryn has not been defined.

Oryn is not totally in the dark about what goes on with his alters. Cohen shares what happens through journal entries. When Oryn sees how conflicted and guilt ridden Vaughn is about a kiss, he knows he’s a keeper. Oryn becomes emboldened and offers to be Vaughn’s boyfriend explaining that there will be a lot to work through. He also let’s Vaughn know that it would be good to form a bond with Cohen without fear of reprisal or jealousy.Oryn explains that they are separate, but all personas are truly a part of a whole which is him. Vaughn has a mini breakthrough with Reed when they end up in another confrontation. The fact that he finally stood up to Reed and didn’t let him walk away, opened up a path for them. Vaughn is being enlightened about them being a whole. The ice is broken when Vaughn decides to get to know Reed better by going out to a bar together and watching a game. Vaughn gains insight when Reed shares the intricacies of the workings of their ‘inner world’. Reed explains the familial ties and relationship between some of the alters. This brings out complexities that Vaughn definitely didn’t forsee and puts another confusing spin on things.

When Vaughn makes an impromptu visit to Oryn on a therapy day, he comes face to face with a very unkempt, wild eyed man. Right away he knows he is meeting Cove for the first time. This is the alter who Oryn is afraid of the most, Cove is self destructive and self-harms as a way of protecting them from the pain. Cove is the one that is tormented by all the memories of the past abuse. It is hard for Vaughn to reconcile this dark being with sweet shy Oryn. Luckily he is able to talk Cove out of hurting Oryn. Vaughn makes a vow to protect all the alters even Cove from themselves. It is shortly thereafter that Vaughn is introduced to the final alter Theo. Theo is organized, confident and very articulate. He comes out on the day of their class presentation. Vaughn is very impressed with how Theo handles himself.Oryn explains that he is the alter with whom he maintains the most consciousness. It becomes clear that Theo is the efficient, productive backbone of their system.

Vaughn takes Oryn downtown Toronto for an overnight stay for his birthday. When they are faced with sleeping arrangements, it comes as no surprise that Cohen takes the helm. Vaughn takes the plunge and their sexual relationship evolves. The ever present guilt has finally disappeared now that he understands that they all have a purpose in the system. Rain comes out to play when they go to the ROM, when he sees all the dinosaurs. Vaughn is nervous at first, but it is quite refreshing seeing the 5 yr old Rain in all his glory. Oryn only comes back to consciousness on their way home. He is embarrassed at having his alters take over, but he really sees Vaughn in a different light. For the first time, he acknowledges how truly patient, loving and caring Vaughn is. This day really solidified their relationship. It continues on an even keel and it is clear that Oryn feels extremely safe with Vaughn, their relationship almost mirrors a normal one where Vaughn gets to hold and kiss his boyfriend without him retreating.

Oryn tries to push his limits and explore more in the sexual realm with Vaughn. Unfortunately, this proves to be too much and it brings forth a highly unstable Cove. Immediately Cove tries to self harm. Vaughn spends the whole night just holding him and restraining him in his harms. He gains insight to the burden and pain that Cove carries around. Vaughn becomes a bit overwhelmed and for the first time he feels the pressures of being in love with someone with DID, he cracks emotionally. He realizes that he needs a support system as well to cope. This is just the tip of the iceberg, he is shutout for a whole week and Theo explains that Oryn is taking a hiatus. Things come to a head as Cove fights for dominance in the system and Oryn ends up under suicide watch in a psychiatric ward.

When Vaughn takes him home, he tries to explain to Oryn what he has learned about Cove, hoping this will open up the lines of communication between the two personas. After their talk Oryn makes a concerted effort to communicate more with Cove. He also decides to be co-concious with some of his other alters. This is where he allows them in the driver’s seat per se while he remains a willing passenger observing his everyday life.

Their next foray into intimacy brings forth ecstasy. It is obvious how much Oryn trusts Vaughn to finally take care of his needs. He is confident that Vaughn will always put them first. Oryn gets better day by day and even though it will always be a struggle, he now has consciousness more often when his alters presents. They move in together and it isn’t long before Vaughn proposes. He wants it all, the good the bad and the ugly. Oryn is perfectly flawed and Vaughn wouldn’t trade him and all his alters for anything. I give this my ratings of 4- this was like nothing I’ve ever read. It was an incredible novel, presented with so much information on Dissociative Identity Disorder and Vaughn’s love for Oryn is precious and priceless throughout.

Resilient Love: Unquiet by Melanie Hansen

​Title : Unquiet                         Word Count: 103,129

Genre: Contemporary Gay Romance
Blurb: Loren Smith has been in love with Eliot Devlin almost his entire life. During their turbulent childhood and teen years, Loren didn’t always understand Eliot, and sometimes he could be a challenge, but Eliot was the only one to ever truly ease Loren’s deep loneliness and accept him. When Eliot’s increasingly erratic and self-destructive behavior culminates in a suicide attempt at seventeen, Loren is devastated.

Upon meeting again by chance nine years later, Loren is enjoying a successful career as a police officer while Eliot’s life has been a constant struggle for stability. In and out of mental hospitals, with a rap sheet a mile long, he continues to be buffeted by the twin storms of mania and depression. Loren’s love and protectiveness for Eliot are deeply ingrained in him, however, and their feelings for each other are quickly rekindled.

Loren has issues of his own he’s dealing with, and trying to understand and cope with Eliot’s bipolar disorder isn’t easy. They believe they’re meant to be, and Eliot brings a fulfillment to Loren’s life that no one else will ever match. But as they both come to realize, love by itself can’t cure all.
My Review: This is one of the most heartbreaking romances I’ve read in a long time. It was my first from this author and it definitely will not be my last. It was very well written and quite informative about a very sensitive subject, Mental Illness. From the very first moment Loren and Eliot meets at the age of 6, they’ve been inseparable.  According to Loren, Eliot is the one that took away his loneliness. Loren was a bit of a loner when he was a kid since he was chubby. Eliot always seemed very hyper always jumping from one subject to the next. They were both latch key kids and they often spent their time at each others house. Eliot was always there to support Loren as they were growing up. Loren was always there to hold Eliot and listen to him even when he acted weird. 

It was during their teenage years that they both became more than friends as they came out to each other. They professed their love for each other and talked about  their futures together. Throughout this all, Loren noticed that Eliot was acting more and more strange day by day. He suggested that Eliot get some help when he realized how depressed he was getting. Before he knew it Eliot seemed to be back to his normal self. 

One day at school Loren goes looking for Eliot and finds him on his knees pleasuring one of the football jocks. Loren is devastated and confronts Eliot with his accusations.  When Eliot tries to brush it off  Loren gets really upset and says some really hurtful things to Eliot and walks away. If isn’t until the next day that Loren finds out that Eliot attempted suicide and failed. After this their lives move in different directions without them speaking again.

It isn’t until 9 yrs later that Loren and Eliot meet up again. Loren is now an  undercover cop meeting an informant in a gay strip club when he sees ‘Angel’  dancing on stage and recognized him as none other than Eliot. Eliot doesn’t even seem to know who he is after giving him a lap dance. Loren is horrified to see Eliot in this way and decides to use his resources to get in touch with Eliot’s mother to get some answers.  The answers are definitely not what Loren expects. Eliot has since been diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder 1 where he goes between manic episodes and depression. Eliot’s mom Rebecca has all but given up on him, she  is all burnt out and doesn’t know how to help him anymore. Eliot drinks way too much and does drugs in order to keep the demons away, but it’s obviously not working. Loren feels so much guilt and wants to try to help the boy he once loved.

When Loren knocks on Eliot’s door for the first time after so much time has passed, Eliot thinks he is in a dream.  They come together like they’ve never been apart.  Loren asks Eliot to date him, but he soon realizes that El is even more sick than he was before. It isn’t long before he truly sees what El looks like during a manic episode and it’s definitely not pretty. El is almost thrown in jail and has racked up quite a few charges. They are able to get him into a mental institution after his mother pays a hefty fee. Loren stands by El supporting him the whole way and El gets a little more stable and does his 3 mths. stint successfully.  

El and Loren realize that sticking to a regimen will definitely aid in El’s recovery. El tries to stay on the straight and narrow path and he does well , but it’s not long before he becomes manic again. All of his worries over Loren’s dangerous job as a cop culminates into him having a severe break with reality. This time his manic episodes affect Loren’s professional life when  El outs him at work and causes him embarrassment. This takes a little bit longer to get  over for Loren but  he finally acknowledges in the end that he has to change his thought process about El’s illness. Loren comes to the realization that El’s illness can’t fit into the expectations and dreams that he always had for his future.  He decides to change his dreams to be all encompassing by taking joy from Eliot being a part of his life. This was definitely not the last time that Eliot would hurt Loren.

Three years into their future, El once again tries to  commit suicide and almost succeeds. Loren becomes very bitter and it almost cost them their relationship,  but somehow they persevered. I can only imagine how exhausting it must be to love someone with a mental illness, but what comes through in Loren and Eliot’s journey is unconditional love.  I really enjoyed these characters despite all the adversities that they will face, most of which will be beyond their control. They make me want to believe in a love that is resilient,  one that will stand against the tests of time. I give this my ratings of 4- the sexual chemistry was definitely amazing between these two, but I fell in love with them because of their all encompassing resilient love story.