REVIEW: Did It All Before by Cynthia Hamill

Award-winning photojournalist Scott Rowe is struggling with the physical injuries and emotional scars caused by the terrorist attack that killed his interpreter, Omran Saleh. A long succession of doctors and surgeons have put his body back together, but to Scott, his mind seems beyond repair. Panic attacks ambush his days, and nightmares haunt his fitful sleep. He can’t bring himself to touch his broken camera, let alone consider returning to work. His only sanctuary is the darkroom, where he can escape the secret he carries surrounding Omran’s death.

Dr Jason Andrews is determined to bring Scott back from the brink. His alternative healing methods are like nothing Scott has ever seen, and at first, Scott feels foolish lying on Jason’s table with hot rocks in his hands or acupuncture needles in his skin. But one thing keeps Scott coming back: the detailed visions that appear like movies in his mind, of himself in other times, cultures, and continents, and Jason himself, whose relentless hope steers them through the storms of Scott’s recovery.

As his health improves, Scott begins to wonder what his visions mean. Are they vivid daydreams, figments of his exhausted mind? And why does he only have these visions when he is with Jason?

Scott hopes the answers will give him a reason to make peace with Omran’s death and begin to truly live again, instead of merely surviving. But what if they also give him a reason to love?

Character in recovery from injuries, visions, past lives, m/m partnership


Did It All Before was a bit of a mixed bag for me. This is my first book from Cynthia Hamill and I would definitely explore more of their work in the future.

This book is about a man named Scott. He was a photographer and is dealing with the aftermath of a terrible event. He was injured seriously by a terrorist bombing while working and his friend and interpreter was killed. Scott not only has serious physical injuries to recover from, but he struggles with PTSD, guilt, and other life-changing thoughts and feelings.

Scott is referred to Dr. Jason Andrews. He embarks upon a more holistic approach to providing relief to Scott, attempting to create a space for Scott to process his grief and learn to accept himself… find a reason to continue his life rather than staying in a holding pattern.

I found I had a love/hate relationship with the pacing of this story. I can appreciate the methodical style of the author as she relays the first forays into therapy. Hamill’s writing is precise and descriptive and I definitely got a good sense of the therapy that Scott was undergoing. At times though, I did feel as though I wanted the plot to progress a little faster.

As Scott goes deeper into his treatments, he begins to see visions that appear to be from the past. Soon there are multiple plot lines drifting through the book… much like I feel it would be to experience a past life regression. The storylines all have a similar theme: the bond between two people.

I enjoyed the way that the relationship between the two main characters progressed and the tools the author used to explore it. A large portion of the novel is from Scott’s POV but in addition to this, there are emails, texts, and phone conversations that give the relationship a very real-time feel. The relationship certainly doesn’t feel rushed or too fast, it feels quite organic and natural.

Things You May Want To Know: Please be aware, I’m by no means an expert on what may or may not have the potential to disturb people. I simply list things that I think a reader might want to be aware of. In this book: (SPOILERS) severe injuries, terrorist attack, pain and recovery, hospitalization, description of burns and severe trauma to body, death of a close friend (past); discussion of death of a loved one (past); description of terrorist/war violence, gore (past), and scarring from injuries; medical procedures; alcohol abuse (brief mention); depiction of PTSD/ anxiety attack.”


Goodreads || Author || Publisher

I received an ARC of Did It All Before  by Cynthia Hamill from Ninestar Press via Netgalley in exchange for an unbiased review.

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