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REVIEW: Everything Changes by Megan Hart

Dear Ms. Hart,

The plot of this Spice Brief deals with the same events described in your full-length novel, Tempted, which Jennie and I reviewed here. But whereas Tempted was narrated in first person from the POV of Anne Kinney, a married woman in her late twenties, “Everything Changes” is told in third person and its viewpoint character and protagonist is Alex Kennedy, the man who tempts Anne toward a new direction.

Everything Changes by Megan HartIf this sounds like a simple story, it isn't. There are complex relationships at the center of both Tempted and “Everything Changes.” Yes, Alex is greatly attracted to the married Anne and yes, Jamie, Anne's husband, is Alex's best friend. But Alex is also greatly attracted to Jamie, a boyhood friend whom he has never been able to keep from loving. And it is Jamie who invites Alex into his and Anne's marriage bed.

As in Tempted, it is clear that Alex is bisexual. Anne appears to be straight, and Jamie is something of a mystery. Is he bisexual too, or does he only swing that way for Alex? If Alex knows the answer, his thoughts don't make it clear.

“Everything Changes” begins when Alex has lost his company, Transcom, due to an affair with the wife of the head of the conglomerate which purchased Transcom out from under Alex. Feeling at loose ends despite the million dollars he attained from the buyout, Alex leaves Singapore and soon afterward, arrives on his old friend Jamie's doorstep.

Anne answers the door. She is expecting Alex, but what she doesn't expect is her attraction to him. Alex is drawn to Anne from the first, and though he admits to himself that he'd have wanted her just for being Jamie's wife, the pull between them develops into more than that.

And then there is Alex and Jamie's mutual desire, which they mask, deny and fuel by touching each other with causal punches rather than focused ardor. Still, Alex is taken aback when Jamie says he wants the two of them to share Anne.

“She wants it.”

Alex shot Jamie a glance over his shoulder. “She just met me.”

“I mean she wants to be with two guys at the same time. And you're the only one I-trust.”

There was more to it than that, and they both knew it even as they both neatly skated over it.

Even though he believes no good can come of it, Alex agrees to pleasure Anne. There is one ground rule – no fucking – and a whole lot of pitfalls.

Readers who have read Tempted know how the threesome proceeds and how this story ends, and therein lies my main problem with “Everything Changes.” Much of it felt like a rehashing of Tempted. Alex's POV fills in some information we didn't have in the earlier book, but I had guessed at a lot of his feelings so the story lacks surprises.

Still, the scenes between Alex and Jamie without Anne present do shine. I wish that Jamie's sexual preferences had been explored a bit more and I feel similarly about the common ground Anne and Alex share (both have alcoholic fathers). The latter is only touched on briefly, and for this reason, I felt that outside of sex, there wasn't enough to support the feelings that developed between Anne and Alex.

“Everything Changes” clocks in at 38 pages on my Sony Reader, a length which is simply too short for such a complicated tale. Consequently, the story feels rushed and underdeveloped, yet I think more lingering would have only made me impatient with the scenes that had already been portrayed in Tempted.

As is often the case, your prose is above average and your characters intriguing. I think it's likely that readers who have not read Tempted and therefore don't know the outcome of either that novel or this Spice Brief, would find “Everything Changes” more compelling than I did. For me, though, “Everything Changes” feels more like a marketing strategy to spread the word about Tempted and the upcoming Naked, than like a satisfying story in its own right. C- for “Everything Changes.”

Sincerely,

Janine Ballard

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Janine Ballard loves well-paced, character driven novels in historical romance, fantasy, YA, and the occasional outlier genre. Recent examples include novels by Katherine Addison, Meljean Brook, Kristin Cashore, Cecilia Grant, Rachel Hartman, Ann Leckie, Jeannie Lin, Rose Lerner, Courtney Milan, Miranda Neville, and Nalini Singh. Janine also writes fiction. Her critique partners are Sherry Thomas, Meredith Duran and Bettie Sharpe. Her erotic short story, “Kiss of Life,” appears in the Berkley anthology AGONY/ECSTASY under the pen name Lily Daniels. You can email Janine at janineballard at gmail dot com or find her on Twitter @janine_ballard.

9 Comments

  1. Sunita
    Jul 22, 2010 @ 21:37:19

    This is a really helpful review. I totally understand your rationale for the grade and your reaction to the length. But oddly, now I really want to read it. Probably just my OCD on getting every viewpoint, but since I’m forewarned about the length/brevity it might not bother me as much. And I would really like to see the triangle from Alex’s perspective.

  2. Janine
    Jul 22, 2010 @ 22:52:50

    Have you read Tempted, Sunita?

    It sounds as if you have, but if you haven’t I would recommend starting there because I think it’s the stronger of the two stories, and also because whichever one you read first will spoil some of the surprises of the other for you.

    BTW, Alex plays a major role in the upcoming Naked.

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    Jul 23, 2010 @ 00:14:49

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  4. whey
    Jul 23, 2010 @ 13:40:47

    Good review aside (makes me want to actually read this and the original, which I hadn’t been interested in before), that cover is hot.

  5. Janine
    Jul 23, 2010 @ 13:46:01

    @whey: Yes, it’s a nicely done cover. And if you haven’t read Megan Hart before, she has some excellent books, too.

  6. Ridley
    Jul 23, 2010 @ 14:09:59

    Megan Hart’s stories are like a cut in the roof of my mouth. I like to not enjoy reading them.

    I own Tempted, but haven’t read it yet. Every time I’m about to, I think of how she did Adam in Broken and I decide I’m not in the mood for her serious business love triangles.

    But at the same time, I *loved* Broken. Loved. It. I just worry that I liked it because of the disabled protagonist, so Tempted won’t be as enjoyable because it’d lack that connection for me.

  7. Sunita
    Jul 23, 2010 @ 15:01:57

    @Janine: Janine, I started Tempted by didn’t ever finish it (it was good, just wasn’t in the mood and put it aside). I will definitely read it before this one. And I do want to read Naked. Megan Hart is pretty much an autobuy for me. Although I share all of Ridely’s ambivalences, I’m always coming back for more.

  8. Janine
    Jul 23, 2010 @ 15:04:07

    @Ridley: I know what you mean, her books aren’t gentle with the reader’s heart, but that’s also part of why at their best, they are really powerful.

    Broken was better than Tempted IMO. And nothing quite as sad as what happened to Adam happens in Tempted. Naked, which officially releases in the beginning of August, is connected to Tempted and “Everything Changes.” I just got it in the mail and am looking forward to cracking it open.

  9. Janine
    Jul 23, 2010 @ 15:08:30

    @Sunita: When her books work for me, they really work. I loved Dirty, Broken, and Pleasure and Purpose. OTOH I couldn’t finish Stranger and No Greater Pleasure. Deeper and Tempted were somewhere in the middle, worth reading to me but not as satisfying as her best.

    I haven’t read Switch, and I’m not sure I will since I’m not so into reading about BDSM (although it worked for me in Pleasure and Purpose). But I’m looking forward to Naked and Selfish is the Heart.

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