Title ~ After the Fire (Through Hell and Back #2)
Author ~ Felice Stevens
Publisher ~ Loose Id LLC
Published ~ 23rd February 2015
Genre ~ M/M Contemporary Romance
A single bullet destroyed the dreams of Dr. Jordan Peterson. With his lover dead, Jordan descends into an endless spiral of self-destruction that nearly costs him his friends, his career, and his life. When Jordan finds himself working closely with the aloof Lucas Conover, the investment banker’s mysterious past and unexpected kindness shocks him back into a life and emotions he’d thought lost forever.
The betrayal by the foster brother he’d worshiped taught Lucas Conover never to trust or believe in anyone. Living a solitary life couldn’t free him of the nightmare of his former life; it reinforced his belief that he would never fall in love. When the death of one of his clients forces him to work closely with Dr. Jordan Peterson, he meets a person whose suffering exceeds his own. Though Jordan rejects his effort to help, something within Luke pushes him discover more about the first man to ever get under his skin.
As Luke lets down his guard and Jordan lets go of his pain, desire takes control. Each man must come to terms with past struggles if they are to create a future together. And learning to trust in themselves and love again after tragedy and a lifetime of pain may be the only thing that saves them in the end.
I haven't read book one in this series, but I do know that its ending is very much tied into what makes up the heart of this story, so I admit, not having all the information, I was a bit wary going in because of the thought that I might be missing out on something important. Actually Felice gave enough back story for me to catch up pretty quick, but I have to say I think reading this without getting to know all the characters and their back stories did take something away from the experience a tad. I do want to go back now and read Ash and Drew's story to see how they got together and discover how it all lead to the heartbreaking situation that sets the scene for Jordan and Lucas's book so if you guys do want to savour the full experience I'd say, even though it might not be absolutely necessary, it's probably well worth starting with A Walk With Fire #1.
There's a hell of a lot of drama in this emotional tale because each of these men, including the main supporting characters, are hurting deeply from something significant in their pasts. For doctor and orthopedic surgeon Jordan it's being unable to come to terms with the loss of Keith, the man he was so very much in love with and was just about to marry; plus he's at odds with his oldest friend Drew and Ash's involvement in the tragedy, which is impacting on their friendship. Whereas for Lucas, all his anguish and torment lies in his wretched past.
Raised in foster care with his 'brothers'... Ash who he looked up to and the younger Brandon they both felt protective of...he carries a lot of issues; especially around Ash, who he feels abandoned them when, without any explanation, he just up and left one day, leaving him and Brandon with Munson, their obnoxious foster father who after a particularly bad confrontation, took off with Brandon, separating him from his younger brother and leaving Luke alone to survive on the streets in ways that no young boy should ever have to ...until with the help of a shelter and the wonderful lady who ran it, he pulled himself out of that life to become the successful financial advisor he is as the start of the story.
When Jordan and Lucas meet through a shared community project that had been started by Keith, the pull is fairly instant but they don't get off to a great start. Jordan's grief has pushed him to make personal choices that are not only dangerous to his health and sanity, but later, as his tenuous romance with Lucas takes off, to the relationship he's falling into with the only man who has managed to get past the shields he's put up around himself; the ones making him withdraw from his friends and life in general. Alongside all that there's the hostility between Lucas and Ash who, mainly from Luke's side, are not dealing well with their reunion so there's anguish to contend with there too.
So you can see that this is a story rife with heightened feelings, emotional turmoil and tension. These men do not make things easy for themselves, the drama runs high and the path to happiness has more than a few bumps. Unfortunately, some (but not all) of that drama was the sort that's a bit of a red rag for me. I have a problem with the type of misunderstandings and/or bones of contention that get further bogged down by pigheadedness. I know they're a crucial part of the plot and I'm not saying that I don't get why these disagreements happen. I understand that these are complex men with harrowing pasts and hang ups that can colour their reasoning ... BUT...and this is very much a me thing...when they automatically 'assume' then react without even trying to talk things out with each other I tend to lose patience, and this time it was mainly with Lucas who didn’t always think before he reacted, that he wasn’t the only one struggling with personal demons.
Luckily there are some lovely supporting characters, like Lucas's wonderful old friend and mentor Wanda who is running the new project and Esther, Drew's lovely, wise old grandmother, to talk sense into these stubborn men and make them look past their differences but I have to be honest and say that I did get irritated with some of their hot and cold style mood changes.
There's no denying though...this is a compelling, passionate story that once into it, was hard to put down and despite my miscommunication niggles I really wanted to see them reach their HEA because OMG! they really deserved it! So now I want to know more about Brandon and what's been happening to him while Ash and Lucas have been getting their closure. There's a great character called Tash we get introduced to who’s definitely worthy of a story of his own so I'm putting two and two together and hoping my calculations are correct that he's going to be the man to bring love and happiness to the remaining foster brother we've yet to meet. If you love your angst then you won't want to miss out on this series. Ms Stevens writes a great story and definitely knows how to get those emotional juices flowing!
Meet the Author
I have always been a romantic at heart. I believe that while life is tough, there is always a happy ending just around the corner. I started reading traditional historical romances when I was a teenager, then life and law school got in the way. It wasn’t until I picked up a copy of Bertrice Small and became swept away to Queen Elizabeth’s court that my interest in romance novels became renewed.
But somewhere along the way, my tastes shifted. While I still enjoys a juicy Historical romance, I began experimenting with newer, more cutting edge genres and discovered the world of Male/Male romance. Once I picked up her first, I became so enamored of the authors, the character-driven stories and the overwhelming emotion of the books, I knew I wanted to write my own.
I live in New York City with my husband and two children and hopefully soon a cat of my own. My day begins with a lot of caffeine and ends with a glass or two of red wine. I practice law but daydream of a time when I can sit by a beach somewhere and write beautiful stories of men falling in love. Although there is bound to be angst along the way, a Happily Ever After is always guaranteed.
There is a wonderful group of dedicated readers who call themselves Felice's Fierce Fans who'd love for you to join them and talk about Rescued, and find out about other books I have in progress.