Everything Changes - Melanie Backe-Hansen

Don't panic. In general, it was a good book. But I wasn't thrilled by this. There is a paradox here: it was too short and too long at the same time. But I will explain that later.

The love story was pretty sweet, a friends-to-lovers kind of story, a gay-for-you kind of story. Bisexual included. Ex-soldiers in Afghanistan. Carey suffered an explosion during the service and Jase, the medic, saved his life. That's when Jace faces the truth: he is in love with his best friend. Carey achieves to come back home, but he loses his leg in the process, so he has to confront a long recovery in which Jase helps. The bond gets stronger and stronger with the years, but nothing shatters the status quo. Until one day, Carey decides to stay a week in Jase's house. Carey works with Army retirees while Jase struggles for his music group to jump into the national scene. He's the singer and extremely sexy in leather trousers, and has lots of groupies, and that, for some reason upsets Carey. I mean both: the leather and the groupies.

I can relate.

Carey has to deal with a prothesis but Jase has his own injuries, he has anxiety attacks and the less expected of circumstances can trigger them. So they are both wounded characters, in need of friendship and companionship with each other. But they find out they can have more.

I liked this premise a lot and they are honestly good together. There is chemistry, in bed and out of it. But somehow the feeling of completion was dimmed. I can't point out exactly what, but something was missing for me in this formula. It fell flat. Yes, it was smooth, with no abrupt changes. Despite this, I wasn't wholly satisfied. Maybe because the characters knew each other for a long time, and it didn't feel new or exciting. But then I can mention lots of authors who indeed managed to give intensity and fascination to long-as-life-companionship to the pair. Maybe that's exactly the reason why.

Because, surprisingly, I don't feel like Carey loves Jase. I mean, he looks untouched by it all, as if he didn't really care about the relationship when the vacation ends. But suddenly, he panics and "makes things right". I have to mention that that last scene and the epilogue satisfied me, though.

The book is exactly 188 pages (paperback version) but there are 48-49 pages of flashbacks. Almost 50 pages, which by themselves are a lot. But when the book doesn't even reach 200 it becomes a joke. I've always considered flashbacks an easy resource for writers: if a scene is lacking, let's memories say what I want to tell. It's lazy and aggravating because it requires the effort from the reader to put pieces together, when it's the author the one who should make that effort and write a balanced novel. There is one sentence used for scientific articles: "It was long because I didn't have time to make it short". That's the feeling I had here.

Because it was as if Melanie Hansen just didn't want to invest her time in writing a book properly. Because a paragraph or two of flashbacks it's okay but when they are so frequent and takes 25% of the book it's not fun at all! Above all when they interrupted in a very unpleasant way the thread of the story. If those parts were so important, was it that hard to write the book since the moment they meet and become friends in the Army?

So I was extremely bored and frustrated, when I read the well-known "Four years ago..." I groaned in exasperation. It stopped being a novel and became more like homework for me: first I tasted some deliciously sweet pages, but then I had to shallow the hard bread and so on and so on. With time the compensation became less and less worthy of the effort.

It made me hyperaware of other mistakes the author (IMHO) makes. For instance, why there has to be an almost-lover close to the end telling you you are wasting your time with her/him and encourages you to go for the love of your life? I always considered that unfair, like the ugly friend in movies telling the pretty girl to go for the boy. It's like... don't those people have feelings or a life? Don't they deserve a HEA, too? It's a common character used in romances but somehow this person annoyed me.

In spite of it all, I can say that this book is good enough to give it a try, and that I'm still interested in reading the second installment in the series, which seems pretty good. So from my POV, this story was not a total waste, but the author certainly didn't get the most of it.