What happens when friendship catches fire?
Former Marine and lower-leg amputee Carey Everett keeps a grueling schedule of counseling fellow war veterans and their families. The injury he received in Afghanistan forces him to rely on a reserve of strength he didn’t even know he had. A much deserved vacation will let him reconnect with his best friend, who saved his life and has been there for him through devastating injury and painful recovery.
Part-time EMT and aspiring singer Jase DeSantis has been in love with Carey for years, but he’s come to accept that his straight friend will never be able to offer more. Jase fills his days with band rehearsals, ambulance shifts, and willing groupies, all while trying to cope with debilitating PTSD.
A week of sun, fun, and music in San Diego changes Jase and Carey’s lives forever when their relationship takes an unexpected turn. Jase has been longing for that change, but it leaves Carey reeling with confusion. As Jase fights to hold things together, Carey deals with doubts, fears, and his own preconceived notions about labels and the true nature of love.
I’m a huge fan of Melanie Hansen but I have to be in the right mindset. I can’t open a book of hers without planning and preparation. I adore hurt-so-good books but she takes it to another level. And I love that and hate it at the same time. Because….ohhh *clutches chest* her words are powerful. I ran around backwards with this series and that’s not my style. I typically start at the beginning and work my way through…in order. But somehow along the way, I missed this one originally and read the second and third before I made it here. But in hindsight, I was glad to see the rest of the guys, even if I knew a HEA was in order for Jase and Carey. I must admit, it was kinda nice…knowing.
Anywho, Jase and Carey have history. The type of history that binds two souls together forever. We are blessed with several flashbacks to their early days and I was extremely grateful. I found the insight enlightening and it helped solidify their deep connection. Carey is on vacation and there’s no where better to spend it than with his best friend. They live hundreds of miles apart and it’s taken its toll on their friendship. They need some quality time together. So he drives cross-country and soaks up the sunshine and relishes in the joy of spending time with Jase. Nothing fancy, the beach and a club or two. It’s so easy slipping back into their routine, their intimacy. But this time, something new is present. Lust. Carey is shocked and rattled that he can’t deny his attraction to his best friend. Burning desire has never hit him so hard and it’s unsettling and unwelcoming…at first. It doesn’t take long for his internal debate to cease and Carey submits. He wants Jase in every way possible. Jase has been secretly harboring the same feelings and nearly weeps with relief. It’s a dream come true. Until their week is over, then his greatest fears smack him in the heart. Could he lose Carey? Not only as a lover but as his best friend? After years of unbreakable friendship could a week of fiery passion truly change everything? Perhaps….
I’m a sucker for military boys and although most of the flashbacks held pain, I enjoyed seeing the guys in their service days. Carey nearly lost his life and did lose his leg but Jase refused to let him go without a fight and did everything possible to save him. Despite Jase returning from the war without visible scars, he suffered greatly as well. Still struggling with his PTSD, Jase reminds us the profound sacrifices our veterans give. The price our soldiers pay is hefty and working with wounded warriors is insanely important to Carey. Giving back soothes him and he’s ashamed to realize his own best friend has been silently suffering in front of his own eyes. It seems Carey has been blind to many things but now he finally sees and understands and most of all, accepts what Jase truly means to him.
This isn’t an easy or painless fall. Jase has loved Carey for years but has accepted the limitations to their relationship. Carey has loved Jase…platonically. But Carey suddenly sees Jase in a whole new light. He has seen Jase with other sexual partners before but now witnessing another person touch Jase ignites a jealous streak a mile wide. When Carey finally lets down his guard and allows himself to crave Jase in every way, it’s like a damn bursts. A surge of new emotions overwhelm both men and I was drowning along with them. Melanie sure knows how to do hot, hotter and hottest! But it wasn’t only the sexual awakening but the emotional awakening. I was completely swept under and couldn’t get enough.
These military men are prime examples that a soldier will always be a soldier. Carey fights himself and his fate until he can’t fight anymore but your heart will ache for Jase in the process. Carey upset me for a minute…but I understood his struggle and forgave him.
If you’re not familiar with Hansen, you are missing out. Her stories cut deep but the pain is worth it because she demonstrates true love like very few can. Take a deep breath and steel yourself, this series will show you…resilient love. I hope you continue on with the rest of the series, each holds a special place in my heart.