Release Day Review ~ You Never Know by Mary Calmes
Title: You Never Know
Author: Mary Calmes
Release Date: July 21, 2017
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'm sorry to say this book had me feeling troubled. I'm not even sure how to put into words what I feel about it because, on one hand, it was entertaining and on the other, it bugged the bejeezus out of me. It definitely had that Mary Calmes feel to it, which generally I love. However, I personally didn't feel like it worked for this particular story and it made it so difficult to connect with.
While I loved Jory (A Matter of Time), Stef (Timing) and Jin (Change of Heart), who all possessed the same personality. To see Hage basically replicating that as well just did not feel right. It didn't feel, in my opinion, organic. This man went to the Army right after High School, he comes home broken after being blown up and losing his whole team, kidnapped and tortured (it's said that he had a hard time adjusting for a while after coming home) but he didn't possess any hardness in his personality that I expected. He's happy and smiles, speaking to every person in town it seems as they all praise him for being the best thing ever to live. We didn't see the struggle to be himself again so it's almost as if he didn't go through anything coming back from the military or that it didn't really change him, which I expect it did.
Now this is what really made me mad at the characters. Hage and Mitch were high school sweethearts. Mitch graduated the year before Hage and went off to college on a football scholarship. After Mitch graduated he was supposed to follow Mitch so they could be together. Things didn't work out that way, though. Instead, Mitch stops calling or visiting and then he's got girls all around him (he's hiding his sexuality now in college). So the couple breaks up. Hage then joins the army to get money to go to college to become a contractor. He comes home and after years that the two have been apart when Mitch comes back home, everyone in the entire town thinks they were meant to be together and they'll end up living Happily Ever After. It made me roll my eyes repeatedly. They were teenagers, they're completely different people now. Why is everyone convinced they're still in love and meant to be together?
To make it worse Mitch assumes he and Hage are still in love, like Hages been sitting there pining over him the whole time. As if he can just walk back in town and it's a given Hage will throw himself at him. Ugh, it bothered me. I really didn't care for Mitch and didn't feel like he really deserved a second chance.
Another thing that really bugged me is the fact that it took forever for the story to even get to Hage and Mitch as love interests. Half the book it seemed was about Hage and someone else and how he never believes or trusts the men in his life. Honestly, I lost interest at about 40% which never happens to me with Mary Calmes. Not really sure I can recommend this one.
***Copy provided to Bayou Book Junkie by Dreamspinner Press for my reading pleasure in hopes of an unbiased opinion, a review was not a requirement.***
One of the main characters of this story is Hagen. Hagen had loving and supportive parents who have passed. Hagen was in the Army and was injured during service and returned to his hometown. He went back working construction with a man that considered him a second son. He had good friends and loved his life in his small town. Now Hagen seems to be a guy that everyone loves. Throughout most of this book, Hagen seems to have a pseudo relationship with Ash, who is a gorgeous, famous actor. Ash wants a future with Hagen, but Hagen goes back and forth about what he wants. There is a lot of internal thoughts about Ash and their relationship. Just when Hagen seems done with Ash, he's pulled back in. While trying to make up his mind, Hagen finds out that his teenage love has returned to town.
Mitch had left and become an NFL star after graduation. He's back now as a divorced man, bought a building for his business, and is raising his sons in the town he grew up in. Though Mitch claims to have moved to town for Hagen, he never makes an effort to seek Hagen out. But, there's an accident with one of Mitch's sons and Hagen saves his life. Once the two men meet again at the hospital, Mitch is very outspoken about wanting Hagen back. Ash sees the attraction between the two men and pushes harder for a commitment from Hagen. But, Mitch has a secret weapon, his two sons that love Hagen and worm their way into his life.
I liked Hagen, but this story is told in his POV only, and I was ready for him to make and stick to a decision about Ash. Honestly, three-fourths, or more, of the book was about Hagen and Ash. There was very little on page time between Mitch and Hagen, and that really left me finding it hard to believe that they just started from where they left off at 18 years old. This is a second chance at love trope and had the potential of giving Mitch and Hagen a fabulous story, but instead it was muddied with Ash. I thought Mitch's sons were terrific characters and added a lot to the story. I just needed more of Mitch and Hagen together, working through relationship issues, dating instead of just being HEA.
Rating: 3.5 stars