by Marley Valentine
Series: The Unlucky Ones #1
Published by Amazon
Release Date: May 21 2022
Genres: Adult, Contemporary Romance, LGBTQ+, M/M
Format Read: ARC, eBook
Buy on Amazon
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 Bishop 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.
I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
The Unlucky Ones series is about a group of kids who grew up in the foster system together and are now doing adulthood as a family. Unwanted focuses on Arlo and Frankie. These two are the oldest in this little rag tag group and they fell in love as teens. Arlo’s drug addiction led Frankie to flee the state and make something of himself to help care for his brother (Lennox) before his brother would age out of the system. Fast forward four years and Lennox is injured in a college football game and Frankie has to come home (after no contact) to help him with his recovery. Frankie is back in Arlo’s orbit and they just can’t avoid the unresolved feelings that they’ve both been harboring for each other all this time.
There is absolutely no disputing that Marley Valentine is a fantastic writer. She caught magic within the pages of Without You (my first ever novel by her) and I’ve been invested in her writing ever since.
Unfortunately for me, whatever voodoo she used when she banged out the pages of Without You hasn’t been used since. I’ve felt like every book she’s produced since Without You has fallen a little short, been a little underwhelming, and generally just missing something. I will get more into that in a minute.
There are a ton of things I truly loved about Unwanted though.
I loved that this story picked up after both characters had grown. I loved that these two characters were mature men who were not playing games with each other. I loved the steamy scenes between Arlo and Frankie. I also really loved the healing that the reader got to witness when these men’s paths came together again.
I felt like this book could have done wonderfully as a duet if I am being honest.
Unwanted felt to me, like a sequel. It was a good read, but it could have been better if I had more backstory on Arlo and Frankie’s lives. The readers were given crumbs when it came to their lives in the foster care system, the drug use and subsequent addiction, the “abandonment” and the reunion that Arlo and Frankie had. If we were privy to more than just the after, I think the plot would have benefited greatly.
Because the reader wasn’t given much (if any) back story on Frankie or Arlo (or Lennox or the rest of the side characters) the pacing felt a little wonky to me. It was too fast in certain aspects and it was far too slow in others. I adored the emphasis that was given to Arlo’s recovery and his prioritization of his sobriety. I also thought that Frankie’s dedication to his own well being was admirable. Often times (especially in novels featuring addiction) the characters fall hard and fast and replace the addiction to substances with their “love” for their partner. This was not the case in Unwanted and I think it should be made clear that this particular facet was done very well, and I appreciated it.
Because this book is about two adults (who aren’t complete morons) and actually have their shit together. They didn’t fight the feelings that resurfaced when their paths crossed at the beginning of the book. Yes the feelings had been buried, yes they resurfaced, yes they were intense. But Arlo and Frankie were far from being in “love at first sight”. They never fought the emotions they were feeling, both men were vulnerable and open about the things happening in thier hearts and because they wanted to make it work, they just did the damn thing. It was incredibly refreshing and I loved that part of Unwanted. It was so nice to see two people who liked each other and loved each other and just did what they had to do to be together.
The other side of this coin goes back to the fact that the reader only had half of their story. We needed so much more context for these big feelings and intense love that lasted long after Frankie left. Because Unwanted was missing a lot of context between Frankie and Arlo, the emotional scenes just didn’t hit as hard as they could have. Due to lack of information, the more poignant scenes fell somewhat flat. Which was disappointing.
I will divulge that I am really looking forward to Lennox, Rhys and Samuel’s story. I’ve never read a m/m/m plot and I smell a throuple in the air.
Unwanted was as good as it was bad and unfortunately that left me feeling like it was just sort of average. I’m still waiting for lightning to strike twice for Marley Valentine. Maybe Lennox’s story will give me that feeling I’ve been missing from her more recent works.
Emily is a coffee loving, cat snuggling, STAHM and book-a-holic.
After retiring from a decade long career in the hair and make-up industry to stay home with her babies, everyone (meaning Emily’s husband) thought it was high time for her to get a hobby that did not involve her kids. Having always been a voracious reader and devouring books at a breakneck speed, joining the bookish and blogging community seemed like a natural next step. She loves giving recommendations to friends and family and then very gently (and not forcefully at all) asking for their opinions after they complete each chapter.
Her reviews tend to be goofy, a little sweary, on the more impassioned side and maybe sometimes a little self deprecating.
Emily typically enjoys reading almost every genre, including (but not limited to) monster romance, literary fiction, rom-com, contemporary, LGBTQ+, low/urban fantasy, paranormal, dystopian, sci-fi, gothic romance or basically any book that will make her cry.