Thursday, May 26, 2022

Unwanted by Marley Valentine

Now Available. Unwanted by Marley Valentine.

From USA Today bestselling author Marley Valentine comes a brand new emotional, second-chance, gay romance.

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.

We wanted.
We needed.
We loved.

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.

Unwanted is book one in a brand new, emotional LGBTQ+ series that follows a group of foster siblings, who are banded together by their pasts. Each book can be read as a COMPLETE standalone.


Add to Goodreads.


Unwanted by Marley Valentine

Book 1
Buy Links

Amazon US  ~  Amazon UK  ~  Amazon Au  ~  Amazon Ca
Paperback (US)
~  Also Available with KindleUnlimited  ~



He just continues to stare at me, his hazel colored eyes full of longing. Full of yearning. Full of desire. For me.



Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

3.5 stars

Unwanted is the first installment in The Unlucky Ones series. If you've read Ache, you know who Frankie is. You don't have to read it to read this book, but I highly recommend it because it was a fantastic read.

Frankie and Arlo grew up in foster care, being shuffled from one house to the next until they both got sent to a group home. They find a love in each other through that bond. When Arlo chooses drugs, Frankie did what was best for Arlo and put him into rehab. Frankie then had to do what was best for him and move away from his family and Arlo, with no contact. Four years later, Lennox, Frankie's brother, has an accident that lands him in the hospital. Frankie knows he needs to be there, but can he face Arlo and all that was left unsaid between them?

Arlo holds resentment against Frankie for not being there when he came out of rehab. He felt when he needed him the most, Frankie wasn't there. Arlo holds on to that anger after all these years and seeing Frankie again at the hospital, Arlo fears for his sobriety and falling back to the coping skills he used in the past.

I wanted to love this book. I tried so hard, but I just couldn't get there. The ease at which they fell back together with so much baggage between them, without so much as a real conversation. Frankie's voice wasn't ever really heard, which confused me seeing as this was supposed to be his book. I never got to feel the pain and sadness Frankie had over moving to another city and making a life. He loved Arlo but moved for both their sakes and I just never felt that anguish. The connection between Rhys, Samuel, and Lennox was immediate and confusing. I never felt that deep connection to any of the characters that I normally get with a Marley Valentine read. I'm sad and disappointed I didn't love this one as much as I wanted to.

I wasn't blinded as I marked off squares on the trauma bingo card: foster siblings, child abuse, abandonment, drug abuse, medical emergencies, deafness, recovery, and overdose. Some elements of the novel were flawlessly executed while others fell short. Many of these threads were left dangling, the impact lessened, the emotions surface level.

I wanted to love the novel. There were portions that were vividly realistic, drawing all the torturous emotions felt by someone in recovery, as well as the loved ones they left decimated around them. However, this was all overshadowed by a major issue that incited me every time Arlo was up to bat as narrator, or during every interaction between Frankie and Arlo. I fear I will be in the minority, seeing this in a different light as someone who has been there versus the romanticized view of those wishing to soothe injured feelings, completely dismissing Frankie's feelings, since Arlo's louder feelings were voiced on every page. Overshadowing.

Five foster siblings, two of which are biological brothers, the eldest and the youngest of the group respectively. Two past lovers.

Angst city.

Four years in the past, Frankie left Arlo at rehab and never looked back. What some believe to be selfish was self-preservation mixed in with knowing if he stayed, Arlo would never heal himself. Not that Frankie ever voiced his reasoning. Frankie needed to better his life as he needed to live, work, and function to help support his siblings, as well as mentally and emotionally heal. But that's just my take, since Frankie was mum even in his own thoughts.

When Frankie's baby brother is injured, he must return to his roots, while facing those he left in the past... Arlo.

Arlo is in recovery, working in a gym that focuses on helping those maintain sobriety. He's taking it one day at a time, his sobriety is his priority, while also feeling abandoned by Frankie. I respected Arlo's strength, tenacity, and drive, while equally frustrated by his self-deluded anger toward Frankie.

Many will side with Arlo on Frankie leaving him behind, as he actually voiced his issues during his point of view, but it doesn't make it any less selfish of a mindset. Arlo didn't have a self-aware bone in his body. It isn't until the end of the novel that Arlo gets a clue – a little too late to erase my frustration, nor was it written in a way to show any character growth. Frankie enabled Arlo to continue to not be self-aware by dismissing his need to make amends.

The past and present come face-to-face in what promised to be an angst journey. 

The author excelled at most facets of the recovery process, especially maintaining boundaries, avoiding triggers, and protecting sobriety at all costs. I applaud the injection of realism, with true-to-life emotions. The prologue could have been ripped from my own memories, it was so lifelike.

The rest fell flat for me. I mentioned the trauma bingo card, which was overshadowed by a rushed pacing, not enough pages to support the character development, miscommunication used as an angsty, dramatic plot device (no communication is more accurate), and insta-love since the reader wasn't privy to the past. With so much going on, it also felt as if nothing was actually progressing forward – the author just wrote it away without actually working the steps.

Even with the first-person narrative, being deep inside Frankie and Arlo's minds, they thought "around" things to draw out the angst, but it came off as manipulative on the author's behalf. I never truly got to understand either main character, and I was INSIDE their heads.

Unreliable Narrator Syndrome.

The romance was stalled due to a refusal to communicate. Few early scenes are shared by both main characters, but what scenes were shared, all the way to the ending, featured a bunch of mental and verbal gymnastics, where they thought and talked around important relationship roadblocks but never truly hashed it out. 

Out of nowhere, from one day to the next, nothing resolved, they were together.

While sobriety was executed flawlessly, the romance was rushed with little connection, with the relationship dynamics between all the characters just surface level emotions. The difference was jarring.

Readers close to the situation may feel as I do, while romance readers may fawn all over Frankie and Arlo due to their past. I just felt the connection and romance was shallow in juxtaposition to the depth of Arlo's recovery journey, minus the purposeful non-communication.

I respect how "Frankie Left Arlo" was a plot device meant to inspire angst, but all it inspired in me was rage – the silenced rage only someone in Frankie's shoes could understand.

For an expanded explanation of the rage and frustration I felt, and how it affected my enjoyment of the novel, please see the "Spoiler" section of my review on Goodreads. Click HERE to read Erica’s full review, including the spoiler section, on Goodreads.



Author Bio

Marley Valentine

Living in Sydney, Australia with her family, MARLEY VALENTINE is a USA Today bestselling author and a former social worker who uses her past experiences to write real life, emotional and heartfelt contemporary romance.

She enjoys mixing it up with both M/F and M/M Romance, incorporating all forms of life, lust, and love as her characters embark on their journey to their happily ever after.

When she's not busy writing her own stories, she spends most of her time immersed in the words of her favourite authors.

Connect with Marley Valentine

Facebook  ~  Twitter  ~  Instagram  ~  Website  ~  Goodreads
Facebook Group: Marley's MOFOs


ARC Provided by

Grey’s Promotions.

Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of Unwanted (The Unlucky Ones #1) by Marley Valentine to read and review.

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