Mental Health in Marriage: Ever After Always Review

by Theja Pk
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iPhone showing ever after always by chloe liese laying on top of open book surrounded by AirPods

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Last updated on May 18th, 2024

In this Ever After Always review, we’ll dive into 3rd book of the Bergman Brothers series by Chloe Liese which focuses on the marital struggles of Freya Bergman, the oldest of the siblings, and Aiden McCormack.

Out of all the marriage-in-trouble romance books I have read, this one easily holds its spot in the top three. It is a heart-wrenching yet hopeful portrayal of marital issues that we rarely see in books.

Chloe Liese explores mental health and sexual dysfunction in ways that will break your heart wide open. Ever After Always is genuinely one of the most touching books I have read, and I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a captivating read.

Fair warning that this is not a light read, as it deals with some pretty heavy issues. But you will definitely walk away hopeful and inspired with a new love for the Bergman siblings. 

Ever After Always – Chloe Liese

4.4 out of 5
illustrated book cover of ever after always by Chloe liese showing a couple standing far apart on a beach

GENRE: Contemporary romance
PUB DATE: January 5, 2021
TROPE: Marriage in trouble, second chance
TWs: anxiety, sexual dysfunction, body image issues

An authentic portrayal of how mental health issues play out in a marriage. It’s impactful, inspiring and heartwarming.

Characters
5 out of 5
Plot
4 out of 5
Writing
4 out of 5
Overall Enjoyment
4 out of 5
Narration
5 out of 5

Pros

authentic characters with emotional depth

hilarious family dynamics

pro-therapy rep

insightful and impactful writing

sensitive exploration of heavy themes

Cons

miscommunication

was hard to keep track of the Bergman siblings if this is your first book of the series

Table of contents

Synopsis

Aiden

I’ve spent 12 years loving Freya Bergman, and 12 lifetimes won’t be enough to give her everything she deserves. All I want is to make her happy. But the one thing that will make her happiest is the one thing I’m not sure I can give her: a baby.

With the pressure of providing and planning for a family, my anxiety’s at an all-time high, and I find myself pulling away, terrified to tell my wife how I’m struggling. But when Freya kicks me out, I realize that pulling back has turned into pushing too far. Now it’s the fight of a lifetime to save our marriage.

Freya

I love my cautious, hard-working husband. Until one day I realize the man I married is nowhere to be found. Now Aiden is quiet and withdrawn, and as the months wear on, the pain of our growing distance becomes too much. As if weathering marriage counseling wasn’t enough, we’re thrown together for an island getaway to celebrate my parents’ many years of perfect marriage while ours is on the brink of collapse.

Despite my meddling siblings and a week in each other’s constant company, this trip somehow gets us working through the trouble in paradise. I just can’t help worrying, when we leave paradise and return to the real world, will trouble find us again?

Characters

He’s organized, and she’s messy. He’s a thinker, and she’s a feeler. Despite being total opposites, there is no doubt that they are perfect for each other.

Underneath all the insecurities that plague these two, their love for one another is palpable through every page. 

Aiden

Aiden is such a sweet and charming character, and I found him to be very relatable. He works so hard to provide a stable future for Freya, which is something he never had himself. Unfortunately, his obsession with preparing for the future makes him forget to enjoy the present.

The fears and worries he deals with and the constant thoughts that cloud his mind are something I found myself relating to alot. I appreciated the author’s approach to these mental health issues, and it was beautifully handled in the story.

Aiden’s character growth is commendable, and it’s refreshing to see mental health issues addressed in a male MC of a romance book.

“Anxiety is like whack-a-mole. Unpredictable, always waiting beneath the surface.”

Freya

She’s passionate, caring, and very protective of her loved ones. Her emotions are always simmering underneath the surface, and even though this makes her short-tempered, it’s also what makes her such a great mama bear.

Freya cries so much in this book that I was worried about her getting dehydrated. But her huge heart is what makes her such a loveable character. 

Freya loves her body and is proud to be a curvy woman. In the book, she expresses her desire to simply be herself in a world that often pressures women to love their bodies and aggressively show it or hate their bodies and try to lose weight.

“If I wear something that no one would think twice about a skinny person wearing, it automatically makes me a body-positivity warrior, instead of just a woman wearing what she damn well pleases.”

I liked that the author didn’t shy away from discussing body image issues and explored them in a valid way that many people can relate to. 

Side Characters

Because this was my first book of the series, keeping track of all the BERGMAN BROTHERS and their significant partners did get overwhelming. But I loved reading about the dynamic between the siblings and their parents.

The chapters about their Hawaiian vacation were some of my favorite parts of the book because you get an in-depth look into their family and how they wholeheartedly support each other.

I am a huge advocate of therapy and asking for help, so when I saw that Freya and Aiden were going to try counseling, I was so elated because I knew I’d get a deep dive into their characters. And the author definitely didn’t disappoint.

The quirkiness of the THERAPIST reminded me of Army Taggert in Love Her or Lose Her and added some great light-hearted moments to balance out the heavy tone of the book.  

Plot

Ever After Always tackles some heavy themes such as anxiety and mental health, body image issues, and sexual dysfunction, yet it never becomes overwhelming. In fact, these themes are what make the book stand out from other romance books.

The scenes where Aiden and Freya have to navigate their sexual dysfunction issues are incredibly touching and feel authentic. It was truly an eye-opener for me, and the author handled the topic with great sensitivity.

There were some scenes about combatting toxic masculinity by learning from romance books that reminded me of the Bromance Book Club Series. It was a little preachy and on the nose, but I appreciate that the author encouraged vulnerability in her characters. 

I couldn’t give it 5 stars because of the conflict towards the end. Aiden and Freya had been through a lot up to that point, and I didn’t think the conflict at the end was necessary, especially since it made some of the characters seem very hypocritical.

The conflict was very preventable and relied on miscommunication to work. But there are some twists towards the end that left me pleasantly surprised, and the timing of it was well done.  

The ending was super sweet without being cliche. And it had a lot of swoon-worthy moments that you can’t help but fall in love with the Bergman family. 

Writing

The writing was honest, impactful, and moving. I am curious to check out other books in the Bergman Brothers series simply because of how much I loved Chloe Liese’s writing. 

Ever After Always is told from dual POVs emphasizing Aiden as he had more issues to deal with. But I never felt like I was left wanting more from Freya’s character. It was a great balance of both MCs that made it an immersive experience. 

And the explanation at the end behind the book’s title – major swoon!

Narration

The emotions that these narrators put into their voices were superb! I felt every anxious thought in Aiden’s head and every tear Freya cried.

Their voices matched my expectations of their characters and complimented each other so well. I recommend checking out the audiobook version.

Best Quotes

  • We can choose how to live. Miserable about what we’ve lost or grateful for what we still have. 
  • Love doesn’t give second chances because we’ve earned them, love gives second chances because it believes the best in who we are.
  • The measure of your love isn’t how ok you both are or how quickly you hit the curveballs that life throws at you. Love’s true test, the measure of its strength, is its bravery to be honest , its willingness to face the hardest moments and say, “even though there is nothing to be done, at least I have you”.
  • At some point, every love is a tragedy. It just doesn’t have to stay that way. We choose our endings.
  • Strength lies in how openly you bear your heart, not how deeply you guard it.
  • Struggling will never make you less of a man or a husband…struggling means you’ve been brave . It means you’re showing up to life and trying.

Conclusion

Ever After Always goes deeper and farther than you expect. It’s not a story about falling in love but fighting for the love you have lost along the way.

If you’re looking for an emotional read with authentic characters that will capture your heart, then this book is for you. 

Enjoyed this review? Then, add ‘Ever After Always’ to your TBR. And if you have already read this book and have some thoughts to share, drop them in the comments below. I would love to hear them!

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