4 Stars, Drama, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Melanie Hansen, Reviewed by Jules

Review: Signs of Life by Melanie Hansen

Amazon US

Amazon US

Title: Signs of Life (A Resilient Love Story)

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.

Dividers

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. ;)

TNA_Signature_Jules

 

 

 

You can buy Signs of Life here:

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4 Stars, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Melanie Hansen, Reviewed by Jackie

Review: Everything Changes by Melanie Hansen

Title: Everything Changes

Author: Melanie Hansen

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 200 Pages

At a Glance: Melanie Hansen has done a great job with this book.

Reviewed By: Jackie

Blurb: What happens when friendship catches fire?

Former Marine and lower-leg amputee Carey Everett keeps a grueling schedule of counseling fellow war veterans and their families. The injury he received in Afghanistan forces him to rely on a reserve of strength he didn’t even know he had. A much deserved vacation will let him reconnect with his best friend, who saved his life and has been there for him through devastating injury and painful recovery.

Part-time EMT and aspiring singer Jase DeSantis has been in love with Carey for years, but he’s come to accept that his straight friend will never be able to offer more. Jase fills his days with band rehearsals, ambulance shifts, and willing groupies, all while trying to cope with debilitating PTSD.

A week of sun, fun, and music in San Diego changes Jase and Carey’s lives forever when their relationship takes an unexpected turn. Jase has been longing for that change, but it leaves Carey reeling with confusion. As Jase fights to hold things together, Carey deals with doubts, fears, and his own preconceived notions about labels and the true nature of love.

Dividers

Review: I am not always a huge fan of the “gay-for-you” story. Now, having said that, I can enjoy a well written love story, and this was definitely a well written love story.

Carey Everett and Jase DeSantis have been the best of friends for years. Jase is most definitely an out and proud gay man. Carey Everett is a self-proclaimed straight man. Even though this information has been on the table since the beginning of their friendship, Jase has been in love with Carey for years. He has done his best to accept the fact there may never be a love story for the two of them, and he doesn’t want to lose his best friend, so he takes what he can get from Carey and is as happy as he can be about it.

A long overdue visit to San Diego brings Carey into Jace’s world, and things begin to change between them. Carey is having feelings he hasn’t wanted to put a name to for a while, and this throws him for a loop. Jase is leery of doing anything romantic with Carey because he doesn’t want to ruin the dynamic they have shared for years, but he also doesn’t want to miss what could be his only chance for love with the man of his dreams.

These two men begin a journey together, some of it smooth sailing, and some of it hits some pretty rough seas. Not only is Carey trying to adjust to being in a relationship with a man for the first time, but both men suffer from different forms of PTSD.

This is not an easy road for either man, and it isn’t always sunshine and roses, but there is a well-earned HEA. I have to say, that makes a book a great read for me. I like the fact Carey doesn’t just accept all of his feelings and move full steam ahead with Jase. I like that fact Jase lets Carey have time to wrap his head around things. It just makes the story feel more realistic.

Melanie Hansen has done a great job with this book, and I can’t wait to see what’s in store from her next.






You can buy Everything Changes here:

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