Title: Signs of Life
Author: Melanie Hansen
Narrator: Robert Nieman
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Run Time: 8 hours and 22 minutes
At a Glance: While not as affecting for me as the first book in this series, this is a well written story of two damaged characters who really have to work for their happy ending.
Reviewed By: Sadonna
Blurb: A Resilient Love Story
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.
Review: While technically this the second in a series, it can be read as a stand-alone. There are some spoilers for Everything Changes, but it won’t impact the enjoyment of this book.
Jeremy is a guy who has been through a lot. He’s lost everything and everyone that meant anything to him—with the exception of his friend Jase, and that’s kind of miracle too. After he has moved to a remote cabin in Oregon, he pushes his body to the limit with running, and looks forward to opening up his law practice. He prefers his solitude and has no interest in making friends or interacting with anybody, really. Until one night, on a whim, he goes to a gay club in Portland and hooks up with guy. But, he kind of freaks out and pretty much runs from the guy, leaving him high and dry.
Imagine his surprise when he meets that same guy again, in less than favorable circumstances, after he’s been the victim of a crime. Kai is a high school teacher who is trying to make a difference for at risk youth. Having grown up in a gang infested world and spending time in juvie himself, he’s determined to try to keep as many of these kids as he can out of trouble and out of jail. When the proposal for victim compensation includes the requirement for Kai and Jeremy to be in contact repeatedly, Jeremy is determined to apologize for his behavior in Portland.
When Kai finds out about Jeremy’s past, he begins to understand the kind of detachment and barriers that Jeremy has set up for himself, because he just can’t risk that kind of pain again. Kai, on the other hand, has difficulty then relying on Jeremy because he believes the guy has already had enough, and out of caring, he wants to protect him. This leads to some rocky times, and each make mistakes in dealing with stresses and strains in their lives and with each other. Jeremy isn’t sure he wants to risk his heart again, and Kai isn’t sure he can do right by Jeremy and share his own fears and regrets.
This story wasn’t quite as affecting for me as the first story in this series, and I’m not really sure why since it’s very well written. Jeremy and Kai aren’t so different, based on their backgrounds, but they are both damaged by their pasts. For those who care, there are a lot of sex scenes in this book, but they are honestly important to the development of the characters and their relationship (which isn’t always the case). Kai and Jeremy come to understand each other as much through their physical connection as their emotional and intellectual interactions. These guys have to work really hard for their happy ending.
The secondary characters are critical to the story as well, particularly Kai’s students and his best friend, Loren. Once again, Robert Nieman does an excellent job narrating. His voice choices for Kai and Jeremy are perfect. His ability to also create the voices for the young people in the story enhanced my enjoyment of this audio. I do hope that the third book in this series is going to be in audio sometime. I’d really like to hear Loren’s story.
You can buy Signs of Life here: