Title ~ One Step Further
Author ~ Felice Stevens
Published ~ 28th June 2015
Genre ~ Contemporary M/M Romance
Alex Stern has it all; good looks, charm, a job he loves and everyone calls him a friend. He lives life to the fullest at a breakneck pace, in the city that never sleeps. But Alex is also a master pretender; not even his best friend sees the pain that Alex hides so well. Alex himself isn’t sure who he is or what he’s searching for, he only knows that he hasn’t found it yet.
As a veterinarian, Rafe Hazelton loves each animal that crosses his path; they don’t care if he stutters a bit or that prefers men. Their love is unconditional, but his life is still empty; they can only give him so much. New friendships convince him it’s time to break the wall of loneliness he’s hidden behind since childhood and discover what he's been missing.
Alex and Rafe forge a friendship that turns physical, and they both swear that the relationship will last only as long as the fun does. But when old heartaches come to light and secrets hidden for years are revealed, Alex and Rafe discover if they accept what’s in their hearts and take it one step further, the greatest reward is waiting for them in the end.
Everybody who's read Memories of the Heart will have been chomping at the bit for this follow up, as it features gorgeous, cheeky Alex: best friend of Micah...and endearing Rafe, the veterinarian who befriended Josh after he found Lucky—now his and Micah's much loved dog—abandoned in an alleyway, and as a love pairing they do make for an interesting couple.
Male nurse Alex is a charmer. On the surface he's the man everyone wants to be around. He's fun, flirty, friendly and engaging. In a way he's the best choice of friend for someone like Micah; a perfect balance for his more taciturn, straight to the point surgeon friend, who as we know can be a bit of a self absorbed grump...but despite that, they've been steadfast friends and colleagues for years.
Rafe, on the other hand is shy; lacking in self esteem because of his stutter, and much more reticent in character. He's an absolute sweetie, who when he's dealing with his animals can be himself, but around strangers and people he's not comfortable with, is not so confident. And Alex's interest totally discombobulates him. He doesn't believe that someone as outgoing and popular as Alex, could ever see anything in as ordinary a man (as he thinks) he is. Whereas Alex doesn't understand why Rafe can't see how truly attractive he is, and finds himself more and more drawn to the lovely, quiet, reserved man; which makes the push and pull between them an ongoing conflict.Two complete opposites...but then we all know how that saying goes!
Like all Felice's guys, you can't always judge a book by its cover and this is definitely the case with the two of them, as in different ways, they're both hiding behind the persona's they project to the world. Each of them battling personal demons that have affected the way they view themselves, their relationships with friends and family, and the lives they lead. More so with Alex who uses his 'hale fellow well met' personality to mask a sad past that he's not even told his best friend about.
Meeting Rafe, brings up emotions that he tries hard to suppress, but because of their growing relationship, ends up having to meet head on...and this has repercussions on both his and Rafe's budding romance, and unfortunately his long term friendship with Micah.
Omg! Felice's men can be stubborn bastards! They don't give each other easy rides but I really liked Alex and Rafe, and on the way to their extremely happy ever after, rooted hard for them to get through the heartache and conflict. If I'm being totally honest...and this is a personal niggle not a criticism... sometimes the type of angst that drives these highly emotional contemporary stories can be a tad frustrating for me, and I did find myself doing a bit of teeth grinding at some of the dramatics their insecurities generated. But as the saying goes..."It's a me thing"...and exasperated moments or not, I was kept invested in their heartfelt journey to true love...and Felice does write a great true love story.
It's hot and passionate but sweetly sexy too; the sort of tempestuous romance that will satisfy all out there who love to see their MC's go through the mill, a touch, before they finally surmount the traumas thrown their way and at the end it left me smiling at its lovely epilogue. I know this is going to be another winner...and I see Alex and Rafe capturing a lot of hearts!