Author: Melanie Hansen
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: MM Contemporary
[xrr rating= 3.5/5]
Narrator: Robert Neiman
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.
Luckily I planned on this being a tearjerker, otherwise I might have taken offense at being made to cry right off the bat! They hit you hard with Jeremy’s ‘backstory’ in real time, so it is definitely emotional. I think that helps us to feel connected to Jeremy, and so that the information isn’t presented to us an info dump. Then there’s a two year time jump to current events, and Jeremy’s reclaimed life and then the introduction of Kai Daniels.
It took longer to feel connected to Kai since we didn’t have his history, but he was immediately a likable and sympathetic character. I feel like their relationship progression is the unicorn of gay romance. Jeremy kept not knowing what he wanted, but then he reassessed, and changed his behavior accordingly, and they talked about it like G-D grownups!
They had a bump or two along the way, but they were fairly run-of-the-mill relationship stuff. Relevant but manageable, as opposed to overly angsty. I liked the aspect with the kids and how that part of the story wove together with Kai and Jeremy’s romance, as well as with their individual stories. Not everything worked out the way I’d hoped, but then some did.
And that’s the way of the world, isn’t it? We have hard times, same as everyone else. Some people get through it, some people are at the wrong place at the wrong time, some people don’t have the support that they need to break free. The point is to be there for those you love, to appreciate them. And to try to make a positive difference in other peoples lives.
With regards to the audio, I’m honestly not sure whether it increased or decreased my enjoyment. I immediately recognized Robert Nieman’s voice, as I’ve listened to him several other times. He was wonderful, for the most part, I enjoyed his tone and his pacing. But I found the sex scenes mildly uncomfortable, and I couldn’t tell if it was the writing, the narration, or some combination of the two. I also hate when a book says “Kai had a slight accent”, but then the narrator doesn’t do an accent. I counted two time when Kai’s “accent thickened” and the narrator complied, but it seemed like he didn’t feel comfortable. If we had had more information about Kai’s background, then maybe he could have done it justice.