Fantasy Mystery Romance Comics Non-Fiction

Ever After Always

Monday, October 2, 2023

Ever After Always (2021) Chloe Liese (Bergman Brothers)

Ever After AlwaysAiden and Freya have been married for almost a decade, but the last six months have not been good. They have, in fact, been bad.

But that’s when it all went downhill. That’s when it tripped something inside me that I haven’t been able to get under control. That’s when work became something I couldn’t stop fixating on, when preparing financially for a baby became consuming.

Although the chapters alternate between Freya and Aiden, the overwhelming number of my quotes were from Aiden’s point of view.

It took me a long time—and lots of therapy hours—to accept that my anxiety makes life harder, but it doesn’t make me wrong or damaged or…well, anything bad. It just…is.

My therapist has encouraged me to be compassionate with myself, instead of wanting to fix myself or change how I am. And listen, I like her. She’s good. Shit, I can even admit she’s right. But that doesn’t mean I like it. Acceptance is not a solution. And I want solutions. I want to be able to fix it.

He struggles with his anxiety, and tries to hide it, which–let me be blunt–never makes things any better.

Fuck. Fuck. I just keep replaying it, like many things I’ve screwed up throughout my life. Moments I made an ass of myself or felt embarrassed. When my clothes were worn out or too small.

That doesn’t mean I disliked Freya and didn’t emphasize with her.

“Where’s this coming from? You know I love your body. You love your body.”

“Not always,” I admit. “I tend to oversell the body love a bit.”

He frowns at me in bewilderment. “What? Why?”

“I don’t know how to explain it. It just feels like I can’t simply eat and exercise and look how I look. I have to love that I’m this way and make sure other people know, too. Otherwise, they think I’m trying to lose weight, that I’m not happy with how I am.”

But mostly it was Aiden who resonated deeply with me.

I stand quietly and sip my drink, more than ever a stranger to myself, to people who once felt like mine.

What is so marvelous about this book is it shows you just how hard marriage can be. That marriage is work.

“There’s a lie we’ve been told in our culture that our romantic partner’s attunement to our emotions and thoughts should be nearly psychic, and that is the barometer of our intimacy. If we feel like they aren’t ‘getting’ us, we reason that we’ve stopped having that magical intimate connection.

“But that’s not the case. The truth is that we change and grow significantly in our adult years, and to stay close with a committed partner, we have to keep learning them, examining if our growth is compatible or divergent.”

One of the things I particularly like about some of my favorite long-running fantasy series is that after the couple has gotten together, the authors continue to show the work of the relationship–that couples can still argue and bicker and disagree and that’s a normal part of a marraige / relationship.

This book focuses on just that part–and does a wonderful job of it.

Rating: 8.5/10


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