Title: You Never Know
Author: Mary Calmes
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: July 21st 2017
Genre(s): M/M Contemporary Romance
Page Count: 212 pages
Reviewed by: Belen
Heat Level: 3 flames out of 5
Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5
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.
I adore Mary Calmes and her writing, but this, for me, was a case where her signature first person, single POV did not serve the story well.
I love a good Second Chance Romance story, but I’ll admit I’m a hard sell with them too. Especially when forgiveness is necessary. I require a lot of groveling, and it’s easier to see how truly sorry someone is if their POV is included.
Hagen Wylie and Mitch Thayer met when Hagen was fourteen and Mitch fifteen. They became best friends and eventually lovers with a plan for the future – Mitch who was a year older would go to college and a year later, when Hagen graduated, he would follow, they would get an apartment and live happily ever after.
As you can tell from the blurb – that didn’t happen.
Instead Mitch went on to football greatness in the NFL and Hagen joined the Army and went through hell and back.
Once Hagen returned home to Benson, Oregon, after he took some time to heal from the worst of his physical injuries, he started a new chapter of his life as a contractor with a sterling reputation for thinking outside of the box and making beautiful things. Hagen has a whole host of good friends, a booming business, and a fuck buddy in Hollywood up and comer Ashford Lennox. While he suffers with “PTSD that presented as panic attacks, insomnia, reoccurring nightmares, and emotional distance” he still has a great life and he’s ready to possibly open his heart again.
Then Mitch Thayer returns.
“Okay, so I’m gonna grow a pair here and be honest and tell you that there were two reasons I moved back home. The first is that it’s a great place to raise kids, and mine have been through a meat grinder with the divorce and they need some stability. The second is you.”
Mitch is pretty focused on what he wants and needs and Hagen, while trying to protect his heart, is not immune to the steamroller that is Mitch Thayer.
I’d forgotten to factor in that my desire for him could never be quenched. I had never gotten my fill of him. There was more of Mitch Thayer that I wanted, and apparently, he felt the exact same.
I heard the yearning in his voice clear as a bell because I knew what I was listening for. I had memorized every inflection, every high and low, every subtle change in the timbre of his voice years ago. He had been my sun and I’d been in orbit around him from the first day when he said hello to the last when he said goodbye. So now, gazing into the endless gilded azure depths of his eyes, I could see it in his gaze, hear it in his voice, I could know, easily, simply, beyond a shadow of a doubt, what it was that he both needed and wanted.
I was what Mitch wanted, and there was no missing it.
This is a second chance romance about how, no matter the time, distance, or life choices made along the way, these two who fell for each other as teenagers, each their first love, have never gotten over the other. Have never really loved anyone else.
I wrapped my brain around the truth that was so very simple.
I loved him.
Had never stopped, not for a moment, and that was the irrevocable truth. And I was not going to fight loving him anymore because there was no reason, no purpose. I suspected that with him, I could be me again, and being me, living well in my own skin, was worth the risk.
For me, I really needed to see Mitch’s side. Even though he eventually apologizes, and does so a few times, I wanted an explanation of what the hell happened that first year of college. I wanted to know what drove him to discard Hagen so cavalierly and to throw away the “love of his life”.
I needed that. Not having it made me unable to really get behind Mitch and root for him and Hagen together. Because it felt like he’d just hit a point in his life when the football was over, was established in his new career and could use someone in his life and so now Hagen was worth pursuing again. I just – Mary did a great job of making me mad at Mitch – and it took me a really long time to get over my mad.
But Mary has a way with painting a story and this time is no different. In the end I just wanted to see Hagen be happy and we get his blissful HEA in the end.
What I can hardly wait for (as usual) is seeing who is chosen to narrate the audiobook. It’s going to take a very special voice actor to really delve into all of Hagen’s and Mitch’s issues and do justice to this romance. I can’t wait!