Author: Melanie Hansen
What I’m Talking About:
Carey Everett and Jase DeSantis have been best friends for years—through combat training, the tightrope that was DADT, the irrevocable effects of war, and the struggle to adapt and heal after coming home. Nearly inseparable since soon after they met, no one could know either man any better, their unshakeable devotion to each other having saved them both time and again, regardless of what they faced. But, some battles have to be fought alone, especially the one Carey has to fight within himself, and, no matter the outcome, things will never be the same.
Opening with a heart-wrenching flashback that, cleverly, isn’t attributed to a specific character, it is apparent from the start that Everything Changes won’t be light, frothy reading. As someone who enjoys m/m fiction, as well as stories that support our military and show respect for the sacrifices they make, I was very eager to read Everything Changes when it was recommended to me. It not only met every expectation I’ve come to have of books that fit that description, but also provided an unexpected viewpoint into what the aftermath of war might be like for some of these returning heroes.
Though it is told from the perspective of both of the main characters, the first third of Everything Changes is mostly about Carey. Memories of Carey’s injury and recovery. Jase’s feelings for Carey. Carey’s confusion as his feelings for Jase seem to change, and so on. While that sounds a little one-sided, the patience shown by the author when revealing these precise details actually allowed me to feel a deep familiarity and sympathy for Carey. As a result, by the time we begin to see how serious Jase’s own struggles are, the blows Carey experiences as he starts to realize what his best friend is going through made a bigger impact on me as a reader than they might have otherwise.
Not only a story of survival, Everything Changes is just as much about accepting love as you find it. While I liked getting to know both of these characters, it was Jase who won me over completely. His devotion to Carey, even though he always puts his own needs aside, was simultaneously frustrating and romantic, and waiting for Carey to come to terms with what his heart already knows was more than a little torturous. Once Carey realizes that it is his perception of what he feels for Jase that has changed, and not the feelings themselves, I had already fallen hard for both men.
On one level, Everything Changes is a story about second chances and love. But, it is also a tale of intersections and processes, some a methodical and necessary part of Carey’s redefined existence, while some lead the two main characters on a wondrous, yet necessarily painful journey towards really living again, rather than merely surviving. Ms. Hansen obviously put a great deal of effort into making sure both men’s experiences were told well, and I was grateful for all the details she added to the narrative. Never preachy, Everything Changes is a good reminder that there are many kinds of wounds, both seen and unseen, and that the face that some veterans feel obligated to present to the world may be masking some severe issues that deserve to be given the best attention and care available. This author gave me plenty to think about and a story that was a pleasure to read. I hope to see more from her soon.
My Rating: A- Enjoyed A Lot
About the Book:
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.
Release Date: March 15, 2015
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: Military, LGBTQ, m/m, Contemporary Romance
Format(s): paperback (200 pages), e-book
Book Source: Publisher