Review: Signs of Life, by Melanie Hansen

Review Copy generously provided by the author
in exchange for an honest review.

Blurb:

cover-melaniehansen-signsoflifeSuccessful 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.


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Edition read:
September 28, 2015
Dreamspinner Press
Contemporary, M/M, GLBT+
228 e-book pages
3rd person
Resilient Love, book 2
April 13-14, 2016
Kindle Edition
See the book on GoodReads.

Rating:     ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.5

Ratings are 1 to 5 stars and based mostly on GoodReads standards.
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Review:

I’m having a hard time coming up with the first words of this review. [<< So that’s the brilliant opener you get.] This could be because the prologue and first chapter of this book managed to tear my heart out and run it through a blender. The rest of the book made a tireless and valiant effort to piece me back together, and I suppose it did—but I’m……………yeah, still a little fragile here.

I had to take a break after finishing chapter one to splash cold water on my face and calm my heart. That wasn’t enough; I had to chill for about an hour to clear my head and shovel away the mountain of tissues I’d created mopping up my ugly wracking sobs.

Jeremy’s picture-perfect life suddenly suffers a double-whammy of unimaginable loss that sends him into a downward spiral of despair, grief, depression, anger, loneliness…you freaking name it. He’s lost everything that matters and, after some time, managed to claw his way back to a sense of peace — mostly.

Kai is light in the darkness. A survivor of a tumultuous, to say the least, childhood. He’s got scars of his own but uses them to the great advantage of working with troubled kids. I LOVED this guy. He’s mostly happy, fulfilled, comfortable, doesn’t ask for much and is grateful for what he has.

The first meeting of these guys was an off-the-charts HOT disastrous mess leaving one feeling guilty, the other humiliated. I wanted to crawl under a rock and hide for both of them.

They meet again in a roundabout, coincidental kind of way that felt a little bit like a stretch at first. But, whatever, fiction. It didn’t bother me in the slightest and stranger things happen all the time. Neither guy is looking for a relationship of significance because Jeremy’s still pretty shattered, Kai’s life is jam-packed with work and other activities.

Every step of the way Jeremy is taking brave steps in coming back to life, letting go of the past, and learning to want and love again. With every kindness, another piece of his heart is put back together. He learns quite a bit about forgiveness…most of all of himself.

Overall, I loved this carefully crafted story of two mostly opposite guys building a future. They worked together in spectacular ways, and their chemistry was explosive from the get-go. Nothing about it was easy, and both go through some major growth along the way.

A little disclosure: I read the first book in this series way back around the time it was first released. It was the author’s debut novel. I liked it okay, and remarked that I thought she’d be one to watch spread her writerly wings. But…I wasn’t convinced this was a series I HAD TO FOLLOW in any profound way. Honestly, I probably wouldn’t have had she not contacted me to read book three, Unquiet. And…since it’s part of a series, and since I’m completely incapable of skipping books or reading a series out of order, she generously gifted me with book two. (I DIDN’T ASK – but she’s awesome to have sent it to me as a bonus.)

I kept thinking while reading this that she’d come a long way from book one. I was also kind of kicking myself in the ass for passing it by when first released. I loved the plot and characters of book one…but had some niggles that overshadowed the love. But, my oh my, how Melanie has grown. Everything about this is better — from the crafting, character development, overall writing…all of it. The emotional journey is off the charts and sucked me in from the start. This was an absolute pleasure to read…ugly crying and all.

Definitely recommended.

Review of book three coming soon!

This review also posted on GoodReads.

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