Monday, April 27, 2015

Wicked Reads Reviews – After the Fire by Felice Stevens

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.

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Book 2
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Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

This is the second book in the series and I highly recommend you read the first book to get the full effect of this book. We see characters from the first book who are also in this story and we get some resolution with Asher’s past. Jordan’s lover was killed and now his life is on the path of self-destruction. He isn’t eating, sleeping, working, only popping pills to make the pain go away. Keith’s will stated that he wanted a foundation started and headed by Jordan. Lucas is overseeing that Keith’s will and requests be met. Lucas tries to get Jordan to meet with him but Jordan is busy destroying himself. When Lucas sees Jordan he finds someone who has gone through just as much as he has and is suffering just like he is. Lucas is still upset over losing his foster brothers both in different ways, he doesn’t trust anyone but he sees something in Jordan. Jordan never thought he would ever love again after Keith. Once these two men let their guards down and just feel, desire moves in and boy is it hot! Just like the first book, I laughed, cried and wanted to reach in and slap someone a few times but it was an amazing book. Can’t wait to read the next book!

Characters: The characters were well written and believable.
Sex: Oh yeah
Religious: No
Would I recommend to others: Yes
More than one book in the series: Yes
Genre: M/M/Romance
Would I read more by this author: Yes

I had a difficult time reading After The Fire. I began it immediately after reading its predecessor, and it's taken me weeks to finish it. Well-written, with an intriguing, well-thought-out storyline, with a diverse set of characters, Felice Stevens pulled me in. But at some point, the grasp lessened and I drifted away.

My main issue is consistency with the characterization. The protagonists are gay professionals in their thirties, yet if the dialogue was quoted without adding who was speaking, it would have a feminine flavor to it.

Jordan had the makings of a brooding, broken character who was grieving, dealing with pain, and struggling with addiction. Which could have developed into a second-chance romance. Lucas was intriguing- an enigma. Together, they should have set my world on Fire. Yet it fell flat for me, after hooking me over and over again.

Both Jordan and Lucas made my head spin, how their actions and reactions contradicted their monologue and dialogue. Scene after scene, it was push-pull. Jordan would have these irrational, knee-jerk reactions that reminded me of a hormonal female. Angry at Lucas for not being attentive enough, hanging up on him, not answering messages or phone calls, and trying not to answer the door. This wasn't the actions of a 35 yo, widowed, MALE doctor who had been in a committed relationship. I would have expected this from Lucas, who had never had a relationship, nor a family, so he didn't know how to behave.

In that same scene, Jordan goes from anger, to pure lust, to clingy and over-emotional, to borderline interrogating Lucas about his painful past, with absolutely no flow in between. I suffered emotional whiplash at how quickly it would go from fight, to f*ck, to heart-to-heart in the same scene, on repeat. It left me reeling with talks of love and forever, when moments ago Jordan never wanted to see Lucas again and was still mourning Keith's passing.

This is what my comment on a feminine flavor was toward: how this felt like the actions and reactions of an insecure, young woman who had never been in a relationship before, and was lashing out for the attention she didn't know how to ask to receive. Jordan had been in a committed, loving and functioning, long-term relationship. He was 35 yo, highly educated, and born into a happy, nuclear family. This belied his core personality traits. Also, in book 1, Jordan was portrayed as an alpha male protector, but now he is shown in a weak light- and I don't mean from his grief and addiction.

There were parts of After the Fire I absolutely adored, where I was hooked and clicking to turn the page to see what happened next. I liked seeing tidbits of past characters, the addition of the pooch, and Grandma. So I'm just going to say I was obviously not the intended audience for this book.

After the Fire is 100% romance. Sweet. Tender. Guilty pleasure romance. It will appeal to readers who adore the warm and fuzzies without a lot of buildup, tension, or angst. While the story is propelled by emotion, it's mis-communication and a lack of communication that are the main conflicts. There is a dark thread weaved into the storyline that appeals to the angst-lover in me. But just as in the first book, it always feels under-developed to maintain the light and fluffy romance feel instead of delving deeper.

Jordan and Lucas are attracted to each other immediately, both lonely and believing the other is their remedy. Jordan is a highly emotional romantic, while Lucas is a quiet brooder who easily professes his feelings.

A roller coaster of emotions for the reader, as they ride the journey with two men who seem to switch back and forth on how they truly feel. When you think the characters are solid and happy, time passes quickly, and they are now on a shaky ground again. Then the reader has to go up and down the roller coaster with the characters.

I was drawn in repeatedly by this trope, so I can see how it would appeal and dazzle many a romance fan. In the end, After the Fire wasn't my type of read.

Genre tags: Romance | Warm & Fuzzy | Saccharine | LGBT | Male/Male Romance | Second-chance romance | Abuse survivor | Foster care | Widower | Professional men | Romantic, highly-emotional men |

Recommended: Romance Fans | Male/Male Romance fans |

Would I read more by this author: No, as this sub-genre is not to my tastes, which has no bearing on the author's abilities to write a good story. Just my opinion.

Also Available in the Through Hell and Back Series

Book 1
Buy Links

Amazon US  ~  Amazon UK  ~  Amazon Au  ~  Amazon Ca  ~  Loose Id

Felice Stevens has always been a romantic at heart. She believes that while life is tough, there is always a happy ending just around the corner. She started reading traditional historical romances when she was a teenager, then life and law school got in the way. It wasn’t until she picked up a copy of Bertrice Small and became swept away to Queen Elizabeth’s court that her interest in romance novels became renewed.

But somewhere along the way, her tastes shifted. While she still enjoys a juicy Historical romance, she began experimenting with newer, more cutting edge genres and discovered the world of Male/Male romance. And once she picked up her first, she became so enamored of the authors, the character-driven stories and the overwhelming emotion of the books, she knew she wanted to write her own.

Felice lives in New York City with her husband and two children and hopefully soon a cat of her own. Her day begins with a lot of caffeine and ends with a glass or two of red wine. She practices law but daydreams of a time when she 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. ~ Loose Id bio

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Google+  ~  Blog  ~  tsū

Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of After the Fire (Through Hell and Back #2) by Felice Stevens to read and review.

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