We read and review for the love and joy of books.
Genre: m/m contemporary
Review: Debut author Melanie Hansen's "Everything Changes" is a best friends-to-lovers romance that features straight, amputee former Marine, Carey and his best friend, Former Navy medic, bisexual lead singer Jase.
Carey visits Jase in San Diego, while on vacation from his Colorado wounded warriors peer counseling job, Jase heads an up and coming band, sleeps with his groupies, and is divorced and enjoying the single life. Except for one thing,,,he's in love with his best friend. He thinks his feelings won't be returned so he continues to sleep around. Carey however, can't seem to stop staring at his friend. Their connection is built upon friendship, life & death situations, a soldier's camaraderie, experiences only they would understand. The novel does a good job of showing this through flashbacks (a good number of them, BTW).
Everything Changes is billed as gay for you but...it was slightly different. Technically, Carey is sexually attracted to his male best friend. But, it wasn't like he and Jase hadn't had sexual contact in the past. Yes, it was a stressful point in Carey's life. Yes, learning about Carey's character showed he blocks anything too emotional from his mind and analyzes at a later time. But it wasn't like it was something new that he experiences to bring the reader through his internal conflict with him. He does have internal conflict, he does run back into a woman's arms...but he had years already to do all of this. Plus, when he has sex with Jase, he wasn't protesting much. He jumped into it with legs WIDE open. (No judging because I enjoyed his legs being open) full throttle.
The best part of the story? The sex. It's vanilla but sweet Cheesus do they pound it out. They are sucking, fingering, frotting, jerking off, rimming, and fucking for a good part of this book. Their sexing never got old with all that they did.
*stares into space remembering all the scenes*
I devoured this book in hours. I just...they...the dirty talk. Oh, the dirty talk is really nice.
And the thong. Did I mention one of the main characters wears a thong? There's a little thong play in one of the scenes and it--
*stares off into space again*
Did the guys get in between sheets fairly quickly? It seemed so. Even though it was emphasized that they knew each other for four years a lot (like really a lot) and there were plenty of flashbacks to make that point, it still seemed Carey got into bed like a lightening bolt was attached to his ass. But the scenes were so hot, I didn't care as much after awhile.
I was hooked by 8%. All the chips were in, my heart opened a tiny crevice to accept this book's landing. The moment slutty Jase's feelings for Carey are shown and the reader knows he couldn't do anything about it? That was super solid. I believed it. I enjoy those moments in romance.
But...there were a few issues:
Sometimes the main characters would have the same thoughts/tone: Yes, they're best bros but it read like they were the same person for a few parts. They got a little lost from being distinct characters.
The heavy handedness: The four years of knowing each other. The shared love. The wounded veterans. The sugary epilogue. Sometimes the point was made and then it would be driven over again and again. I got it the first time. Don't need to lay it on so thick. I can tell the author did the research especially with wounded veterans but it could've been a little lighter when trying to play the sympathy card. Having an author's note about the charities and projects dedicated to this subject (which certainly does deserve advertisement) could have been just as effective as pouring it in the book...maybe even more so.
The last 15-20%: Forget that both men seemed to be able to communicate their needs (except the most major one) to each other without much problem. Once their dicks got heavily involved, their brains must have taken a slight trip to the moon. Maybe from all the coming? They sure did jizz tons. The miscommunication/ignoring each other/ minor dramatics crap came out and kinda tarnished the solid beginning 80%. It got slightly soap opera-y with the lower key MANtrums going on in the last 20%. Thankfully, it was brief but still worth a mention because I couldn't rate this book 5 hearts no matter how much I enjoyed it. It's reread worthy-ish but I know I'll go straight to the steamy bits and skim some of the flashbacks and definitely ignore the sugar.
And that epilogue? Too long, too sugary and not necessary, IMO. We get a solid finish and then that gets added in the epilogue? Didn't really add to the story. They were already each other's perfect match, it could have been left alone as that.
I'm not going to discuss the tears bits. I can't stand water pots, no matter the gender.
Overall, I was entertained. I thought it was a solid debut. Love the cover, think it fits the story perfectly. I recommend this story for best friends to lovers fans especially. The GFY was a little wonky but it wasn't the worse I've read.
Definitely keeping my eye out for more of this author's work in the future.