Everything Changes, Melanie Hansen
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: Gay Romance
Tags: Military, PTSD, Disability, Music, Friends-to-lovers, Bi-gay romance, GFY
Length: 200 Pages
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.
I was given an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Carey and Jase are returned marines; Jase a medic, and Carey an amputee. He lost the lower part of his leg on deployment in Afghanistan. Jase and Carey, already share a bond forged in war. Jase was their team’s medic and the one who saved Carey’s life on that fateful day he lost his leg.
Jase lives in Coronado, a beautiful beachside community where he sings with his band. Carey has been working in Colorado on a ranch dedicated to treatment of war veterans; he is especially gifted with amputees and the severely injured. He counsels vets and their partners on regaining intimacy after severe injury. His work is amazing and gives Carey a sense of purpose.
Carey travels the long drive to Coronado to visit with his closest friend and for some much needed R & R. Jase is the open-minded free-flying type. He has his band and the groupies that go with it. He doesn’t distinguish between men and women, he freely admits he is attracted to the person, and what they have between their legs doesn’t factor in. He owns it.
“You know I don’t differentiate or label who I’m attracted to. I don’t put people in boxes and say, ‘I shouldn’t be attracted to so-and-so because of what kinds of parts they have between their legs.’ It doesn’t work like that for me.”
Jase is the one person who has always been there for Carey. After growing up in the foster system, and fending for himself from a very early age, Carey is understandably independent. He got from Jase what he was always missing in his life: family, and a home.
The men share a bond that was forged from only the reality war allows. Now years later they need each other to fill the hole that fits only them. Carey is attracted to Jase; he finds this a curious thing, a dreaded thought. How can he be lusting over his best friend, he’s not gay. Carey has never been attracted to men, and while he doesn’t have a problem with men being in relationships, he can’t ever see himself in one. It’s a conundrum. As they spend time with each other and Carey watches how people are attracted to Jase, he notices that the strange feeling inside him is jealousy. He wants Jase.
It takes too long for Carey to make his move, and he is still puzzled when he does. It feels right, but it can’t be, right? He is not gay. There’s a delightful amount of frottage, and a particularly zingy first encounter. But when Carey gives himself fully to Jase, I had goose bumps all over, it was magical.
These men needed to be together, it was obvious from the beginning, it was clear to me that Jase and Carey had some kind of amazing claim to the other even without the sexual element.
I felt incredibly humbled by the compassion they shared for each other. They are both dealing with PTSD. Their story wasn’t all hearts and roses, Carey had to overcome his problem with the label that would come with being in this relationship.
“This time there was no pulling away, Carey twining his fingers firmly with Jase’s as they ambled along, oblivious to anything but each other.”
I think I just melted a little at this point, these guys are gorgeous. Why isn’t all love like this?
Jase was amazing, his character is the friend everyone loves; he is upbeat and has that contagious joie de vivre. Underneath that was an incredible story of a wounded man living with panic attacks. Carey is highly honed in detecting such issues, and when he gives himself to Jase, my God!!
When Carey openly admits his feelings I had tears again, but this time they were tears of joy, I was so happy for them.
I have to mention the secondary characters in their circle of friends. They were an amazingly supportive bunch, I, like many of us, wish we all had such backing. It’s a beautiful story; it pushes barriers that we so commonly need to push. It’s all very well saying you are okay with gay relationships and happy for those involved, but when it happens to you…will you own it? Will you be out and proud?
Love is love. Whatever shape it comes in is ok. People need to accept that love isn’t some picture-postcard, perfect version of right and wrong. It’s simply love. I wish we had more open-minded people to share their stories and show the world that we all want the same things, we share a lot of the same morals we humans have that innate need: to be wanted and needed, to love and be loved, to have a family and a home.