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 truly enjoyed this book. There’s so much action in the flashback scenes. The fighting and attacks are described respectfully, but truthfully and bluntly. You can feel the tension the characters are feeling. I didn’t understand why Carey had such trouble accepting his love for Jase. He kept saying he loved Jase in the “love you bro” kind of way, and accepted he was physically attracted to Jase. He also said he couldn’t handle a life without Jase as his friend and trusted confidant in his life. Yet he kept getting hunt up on labels and definitions. He didn’t want to call what they had a “relationship” or love and build a life with Jase until all of a sudden someone basically smacked him in the head with the realization he was being an idiot. It was a bit of a cop out and a way to string their story along. I loved seeing Carey and Jase happy together at the end. The tiny bit with jealousy was a little too contrived and forced. But they worked their problems out and were happy in the end. I really enjoyed the writing style and how Melanie Hansen used flashbacks to Jase and Carey’s time in Afghanistan to help tell the story. I’m looking forward to reading more by this author in the future.
Melanie joins me today to talk about something an amputee like Carey will have to deal with. I hope you’ll learn just like I did about something most amputees have to deal with. Read and enjoy!
One of my main characters in Everything Changes, Carey, lost his leg due to an injury he received in Afghanistan. I didn’t go into it in my story, but one of the challenges he almost certainly would face as an amputee is the phenomenon known as phantom pain. That is when the person feels sensation as if their missing limb is still there. It can take the form of itching, burning or even debilitating pain, like the missing foot is cramping or is being forced into an uncomfortable position.
The exact cause of phantom pain isn’t understood, but doctors believe that after an amputation, the brain, having lost input with the missing limb, reacts by sending the most basic of messages…pain. Up to 80% of amputees experience some form of phantom pain or sensation.
What I find totally interesting are some of the unconventional treatments that are utilized to help people suffering from this. One of the treatments is called a mirror box. This is when the amputee puts their intact limb and amputated limb into a box that contains mirrors, which makes it look like the amputated limb still exists. The person then performs symmetrical exercises. They watch the intact limb move and imagine they are actually observing the missing limb move. This fools the brain and may actually help re-map the brain’s sensory circuitry, relieving pain.
Another cool thing that hasn’t been tested on too many people yet but that shows promise is the use of virtual reality goggles. A computer program mirrors the movement of the intact limb, making it look like there’s been no amputation at all. The person uses the virtual reality to simulate using their amputated limb to perform tasks, such as kicking a ball, which once again fools the brain into relieving the pain.
I like to imagine Carey, while doing his peer counseling, telling the wounded veterans about these treatments and giving them hope.
“You keep looking at me like that, this ain’t gonna last long,” Jase growled. Carey smirked, then twirled his finger in a turn-around motion.
“I feel like a piece of meat,” Jase grumbled good-naturedly, but turned in a slow circle. Carey’s mouth watered as he took in Jase’s broad shoulders and muscular back, tapering in a perfect V into slim hips and high, round buttocks. Carey was a little bemused at how looking at another man’s body was revving him up, but it was. It was just… Jase. Carey already knew how beautiful he was on the inside; now he knew how stunning he was on the outside too.
Using his support leg and his arms, he pulled himself to the edge of the bed and sat up, crooking his finger at Jase.
Jase’s eyes flared hot, and he took the few steps necessary to reach the edge of the bed. Carey reached up slowly and moved his hands onto Jase’s hips, stroking over the hipbones lightly before tugging him forward to stand between his legs.
“I just want to touch you,” he said hoarsely. “Is that okay?”
Jase smoothed Carey’s hair back from his forehead, his fingertips achingly gentle. “Touch me,” he said simply.
Melanie Hansen has spent time in both Texas and Florida prisons…for work. She’s been in a room with a 17-year-old mass murderer who was also one of the most soft-spoken and polite teenagers she’s ever met. After a 13-year career as a court reporter, she can tell many stories both hilarious and heartbreaking.
She grew up with an Air Force dad, and ended up marrying a Navy man. After living and working all over the country, she hopes to bring these rich and varied life experiences to her stories about people finding love amidst real-life struggles.
Melanie left the stressful world of the courtroom behind and now enjoys a rewarding career transcribing for a deaf student. She currently lives in Arizona with her husband and two sons.
Where To Buy:
Dreamspinner Press eBook: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=6039
Dreamspinner Press Paperback: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=6040
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