Title: You Never Know
Author: Mary Calmes
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Length: 200 Pages
At a Glance: The lovely things about You Never Know far outweigh my tiny concerns. I can’t think of any couple I’ve read recently that deserve a second chance at love more than Hagen and Mitch did. I really did love them tons.
Reviewed By: Jules
Blurb: Hagen Wylie has it all figured out. He’s going to live in his hometown, be everybody’s friend, explore new relationships, and rebuild his life after the horrors of war. No muss, no fuss is the plan. He’s well on his way—until he finds out his first love has come home too. Hagen says it’s no big deal, but a chance encounter with Mitch Thayer’s two cute sons puts him directly in the path of the only guy he’s never gotten out of his head.
Mitch returned for three reasons: to raise his sons where he grew up, to move his furniture business and encourage it to thrive, and to win Hagen back. Years away made it perfectly clear the young man he loved in high school is the only one for him. The problem? He left town and they have not talked since.
If Hagen’s going to trust him again, Mitch needs to show him how he’s grown up and isn’t going to let go. They could have a new chance at love… but Hagen is insistent he’s not reviving a relationship with Mitch. Then again, you never know.
Review: I adore Mary Calmes’s books. She was one of the first authors I read in the genre, and has consistently been an auto-buy for me. It’s been a while since I’ve read one of her contemporary romances, though, so I was excited when I saw the blurb and cover for You Never Know. I do love me a second-chance romance, and this one was allll about second chances, both at love and just in life. There were a few things that niggled at me a little, but, overall, I so enjoyed Hagen and Mitch.
When we first meet Hagen, he seems super carefree and friendly, clearly knowing everyone in the small town of Benson, where he lives on the Oregon coast. Life isn’t all carefree, however. Hagen also has some demons that he lives with. We learn that he joined the military soon after high school, and that he was injured in combat, was captured and tortured as a POW, and then rescued and returned home. Not long into his recovery, he finds out that his mother is terminally ill, and wants him to build her a treehouse as a sort of last wish. We’re not talking about a kid’s playhouse here, though…We’re talking full-on, luxury home in the trees, complete with glass-enclosed sunroom in the loft. The project cements that he wants a career as a contractor, building things. For the most part, I completely adored Hagen’s character.
I also loved everything about Benson, and all of Hagen’s close relationships there. His parents, both now deceased, were amazing people, and he has some wonderful old friends as a support network. Having been to the Oregon coast many times myself, I loved Mary’s rich descriptions of everything there, and could picture the town and its picturesque beauty perfectly in my mind.
Small towns being what they are, when a juicy bit of gossip is going around, everyone wants to talk about it, and everyone has an opinion. Unfortunately for Hagen, the current juicy gossip involves him, and the fact that his ex-high school sweetheart, and possible love of his life, Mitch Thayer, has moved back to town. Hagen feigns nonchalance all over the place, pretending he doesn’t care at all that Mitch is back, or that he is freshly divorced, and apparently as hot as ever. Though they were at one time the golden couple of their high school, they haven’t spoken or seen each other in seventeen years. Years Hagen has spent stewing about Mitch breaking all his promises, and breaking Hagen’s heart in the process, and learning how to live with the huge hole Mitch left in his heart and life.
Mitch…*sigh*… In many ways he was an awesome leading man. Sexy, confident, driven, and caring. But, much of the time he came off as arrogant—alllllmost to the point of being unlikeable—and unreasonably demanding. There was never any doubt that he loved Hagen, or about his sincerity in wanting to make a life with him, but it definitely felt like he popped back into Hagen’s life and steamrollered him. As much as I was totally rooting for them in my heart, he hurt Hagen very badly, and I felt like he shouldn’t have gotten off so easy. At times, he seemed only mildly apologetic about how he treated Hagen, which seemed so crazy to me.
And, Hagen came off as wishy-washy a lot of the time, sending mixed signals to Ash, the guy he’s been dating, and being a little hot and cold with Mitch as well. I understood that, however. Hagen had such a battle waging within him; I can’t imagine the emotions he was going through. I really loved this:
The urge to simply forgive him and get on with my life of loving him warred with the part of my brain that clearly, concisely, recalled the pain of him casting me aside. I wanted to give in as much as I wanted to run.
It absolutely made sense that he wanted to be cautious. I just wish Mitch had come across as a bit more patient and understanding, and that Hagen had stuck to his convictions a bit more solidly sometimes.
So, the things I loved… Hagen. Benson. I loved, loved the small-town appeal. Hagen’s treehouse. Mitch’s kids, who I haven’t mentioned up until now, but were completely AMAZING!! I loved them, and how much they quickly adored Hagen, so much. I won’t spoil, but the scene where Hagen meets the boys is a ‘Yikes’ moment. It’s so well-written, and just so good. And, I looooved Hagen and Mitch’s history. Mary Calmes did a great job of showing what they meant to each other in high school, how deep their love ran.
The couple of things that made me go hmmmmm…Hagen’s wishy-washiness. Mitch’s attitude. Ash (Ha! Yes. Just, in general). And, also, I would have loved more time with Hagen and Mitch actually together. I definitely felt like that was missing.
Don’t let the things I was more critical of keep you from this story, though. The lovely things about the book far outweigh my tiny concerns. I can’t think of any couple I’ve read recently that deserve a second chance at love more than Hagen and Mitch did. I really did love them tons.
You can buy You Never Know here: