Sunday, September 27, 2015

Review: Signs of Life, by Melanie Hansen

Title: Signs of Life

Author: Melanie Hansen

Publisher/GR Link: Dreamspinner (preorder, out on 9/28), GR

Genre: MM Contemporary

Vice: Trauma/Loss, teachers

Rating: 5+

Lock this book up: 4 keys.  This is SMOKING hot.

Length: Novel

Satisfaction: HEA

Cover Impressions: Gorgeous, and suits the series

Best Line: “He did have the strength to light more candles…”

Synopsis: 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.

Impressions:  This read was simply stunning.  I was looking forward to it (and eager to see more of Jase and Carey- I was not let down!) and so I had high expectations.  These were blown out of the water, because not only is this an amazing read that kept me up until midnight, I couldn’t go to sleep until I had shared that information with the world.

When the book opens, I was brought to tears by Jeremy’s story.  Honestly, I wondered how something that emotionally hard to read could ever leave me with room to imagine him finding love.  What Hansen did so expertly was to mirror Jeremy’s realization that he could love again with the reader’s acceptance and then eagerness to see him do just that.  Kai is a dynamic character, and it takes someone as special as him to convince us, and Jeremy, that the pain he suffered can be the story of his past and not the determinate of his future.

I really felt immediately connected to these characters, and to the others that we meet (and revisit) in this story.  I felt for Jeremy as he struggled to grow and evolve, and I admired Kai’s strength and commitment to loving them both.

I don’t want to give too much of this away, because I didn’t know much about the story line before I started and I loved each and every aspect of the plot as I uncovered it.  This is a heart wrenching and yet uplifting story and you need to lose yourself in it to really experience the raw emotions.

I do have to note two things.  1.  This book is HOT.  Steam my glasses and hope not one is peeking over my shoulder hot.  2.  I have taught in an urban school with populations very much like Kai’s and I have never encountered a story that so accurately reflects the highs and lows of my job.  Kai’s job doesn’t end at 3, and he worries about his kids all of the time.  I loved that Jeremy understood that, and I applaud Ms. Hansen for her accurate and touching portrayal of a job that is truly a calling.

Don’t wait to settle in with this book.  You will want to tune out the world to read it, but you’ll do anything to keep from putting it down!

Highly recommended. 

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