Glitterland by Alexis Hall (5 Stars)

With its addictive, emotional writing-style, this story about one man falling in love while living with mental illness was almost too realistic, but well worth the read.

Ash Winters is an intelligent author who is also bipolar and suffers from panic attacks and depression. For anybody who has ever lived with somebody suffering from any of these disorders, you’re already aware of how challenging life can be for that person. However, listening to somebody share detailed experiences as they move through their emotional battles is both painful and enlightening. At times it felt as if you were living through the nightmare of his panic attacks and full blown depressive bouts. The entire story is told from Ash’s point of view, and as he walks us through his challenging life, he also shares some of his joys. However, until he meets Darian, he really doesn’t know what happiness means.

Darian Taylor was truly one of the sweetest and most accepting people. He was able to look to the true heart and soul of a person, and look past their many faults. He had such a simple approach to life and love. It did take me a bit of time to get used to his very heavy accent and speech patterns. There was quite a bit of interesting dialog between Ash and the other characters. The romance with Darian was believable with plenty of conversations and interactions. The sex was both steamy and enjoyable. Ash was a bit of a jerk throughout the story, and although he always explained his poor behavior, it was challenging at times to understand why Darian would care for him. However, Darian rarely let Ash’s negative attitude affect him. It certainly wasn’t an easy path to get there, but Ash and Darian get their well-deserved happily ever after. There were also several other interesting characters including his agent, Amy, and his friend, Niall. I would love to see a second story with Niall, especially to get another glimpse of how Ash and Darian are doing.

This was a truly intriguing story with rich character development and a huge emotional pull that I’m very glad I read.

cover

A free and brilliant epilogue, Glitterland Aftermath, is available from Riptide Publishing.

Originally reviewed for Swept Away By Romance. Complimentary copy provided by author/publisher for an honest review.

BLURB

The universe is a glitterball I hold in the palm of my hand.

Once the golden boy of the English literary scene, now a clinically depressed writer of pulp crime fiction, Ash Winters has given up on love, hope, happiness, and—most of all—himself. He lives his life between the cycles of his illness, haunted by the ghosts of other people’s expectations.

Then a chance encounter at a stag party throws him into the arms of Essex boy Darian Taylor, an aspiring model who lives in a world of hair gel, fake tans, and fashion shows. By his own admission, Darian isn’t the crispest lettuce in the fridge, but he cooks a mean cottage pie and makes Ash laugh, reminding him of what it’s like to step beyond the boundaries of anxiety.

But Ash has been living in his own shadow for so long that he can’t see past the glitter to the light. Can a man who doesn’t trust himself ever trust in happiness? And how can a man who doesn’t believe in happiness ever fight for his own?

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