Author: Melanie Hansen
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Pages/Word Count: 234 Pages
At a Glance: Overall, this was a good romance, a nice second chance story.
Reviewed By: Jules
Blurb: Successful lawyer Jeremy Speer has it all—a loving husband, a beautiful home, and a cherished dream that’s about to become reality. He’s learned not to take happiness for granted, meeting the challenges of life and love head-on with unwavering commitment and fierce devotion. A series of tragic events leave Jeremy shattered, adrift on a sea of unimaginable pain. He’s able to piece his life back together, but instead of embracing it, he merely exists, using isolation and punishing physical exertion to keep the world at bay.
High school teacher Kai Daniels has a heart for at-risk kids—he was one himself, and a teenage brush with the law and some troubled years behind bars left him scarred inside and out. With courage, hard work, and the support of friends, he’s built a fulfilling life that leaves no time for a relationship.
An intense encounter with Kai at a gay club ignites a spark in Jeremy that he thought was extinguished forever, but he’s unwilling to destroy the fragile peace he’s managed to create, and he leaves Kai humiliated and disappointed. Things should have ended there, but a bizarre occurrence brings the two together in a way neither of them expected.
Review: Let’s begin at the beginning. Full disclosure right up front. The first chapter of Signs of Life will gut you. Not even kidding, I was crying within five pages. Then, just when you think you’ve made it through…BAM! Jeremy suffers another unspeakable loss. I have to admit I questioned the necessity of it…the cruelty of it…but then, if one thing happened without the other, it would have been a completely different story, and this is the story the author wanted to tell. So, I plodded on. Then, while grieving, Jeremy lashes out VERY cruelly at his dear friend. I absolutely questioned his behavior and his character at that point, horrible losses or not. So, yeah…it was a rough start.
Fast forward two years – Jeremy has moved to Bend, Oregon and is attempting to put his life back together. I love this quote from a scene where he is contemplating renovations on his new law office, as well as his renewed interest in life:
Suddenly he was itching to get to work, to make all of these dreams a reality, to rebuild his new life from the ashes of his old one as best he possibly could.
Part of the reason for his new zeal for moving on with his life is his attraction to Kai Daniels. Kai is smokin’ hot. An ex-gang kid turned school teacher who, as it turns out, pushes ALL of Jeremy’s buttons. The attraction these guys have for each other jumps off the page. The author’s descriptions of them are vivid – I felt like I could perfectly picture the quasi-bad boy thing Kai had going on at times, with his eyeliner, lip piercing, jewelry, and swagger; and Jeremy’s lean runner’s build, clean cut good looks, and sex appeal in a suit were also clearly etched in my mind.
It took me quite a while to actually come to like Jeremy – over a third of the book – which was a bummer, but once he started to thaw out a little, and especially once he warmed up to the kids who were fulfilling their community service at his property, I definitely started to fall for him. Obviously, he went through unimaginable hurt. I don’t want to come off as insensitive about that. At all. As I said, I was crying with him and hurting for him in chapter one. But, I did have a hard time with his behavior afterward. That being said, again, by the second half of the book and beyond, I was loving me some Jeremy.
I completely dug Kai’s character – he had me at hello – and was sucked into his whole backstory. I also love a good bromance, so his relationship with his best friend, Loren, was pretty sweet but also sort of crazy and co-dependent. Kai’s relationship with Loren hindered his ability to fully explore what he had with Jeremy, so I was glad when they sorted it out at the end. And, though I haven’t seen it confirmed anywhere, I strongly suspect that the next book in the series will be Loren’s book.
Overall, this was a good romance, a nice second chance story. The angst was heavy, though largely in the first half, and the sex was steamy. Also, the epilogue was fantastic. I didn’t read Everything Changes, the first book in the series, though now I’m dying to dig into Jase and Carey’s story. I’m sure fans of the first book will be very pleased with the ending here. ;)
You can buy Signs of Life here: