By Felice Stevens
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
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 doesn’t free him of the nightmare of his youth; it reinforces 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 was quite anxious to read After the Fire, the follow-up to A Walk through Fire, the first book of the Through Hell and Back series. The first book introduced us to Dr. Drew Klein and Asher Davis, and segued smoothly into this one where it left off after the devastating murder of Dr. Jordan Peterson’s fiancé Keith. Jordan has been struggling to manage his overwhelming grief from losing the love of his life, as well as fighting his anger towards his best friend Drew, who he blames for leading Keith directly into the line of fire that killed him. After the Fire opens with Jordan confronting his late partner’s financial adviser about threatening to remove him as president of the foundation that Keith established to keep young kids off the streets. The attraction between the two is instant, and it blossoms and evolves quickly and naturally, drawing Jordan out of the deep, dark abyss of numbness he’s been buried under for the past year. He’s shocked to find he’s starting to be able to feel emotion and lust again, something he assumed died with Keith. Luke, Keith’s friend and financial adviser – who also happens to be Ash’s long lost foster brother who he’s been searching for non-stop – is drawn to the sexy doctor and feels emotions he never considered possible. His past haunts and torments him ceaselessly, and the trauma he suffered is only accentuated when he realizes Jordan’s best friend Drew is actually in a relationship with Ash, the foster brother he believed left him and the younger Brandon in the evil clutches of an abusive foster dad. The reality of facing these demons continues to simmer for Luke, as he confronts his growing love for Jordan, especially when he learns Jordan is addicted to prescription drugs – bought off the street, no less – a vice Luke finds inexcusable. Luke has no point of reference for building a relationship, so even though he truly loves Jordan, will their potential future together be doomed? Will Jordan find the strength to overcome his dependency?
Forgiveness. Understanding. Acceptance. Confrontation. Denial. Honesty. Commitment. Love. It all completes the circle and evolves into another leg of the journey of life, where the only constant is change and growth.
Author Felice Stevens is an outstanding writer and a masterful storyteller, who knows how to weave the fabric of her characters so deeply into readers’ minds that they seem like they’re touching their souls. It’s simply impossible to ever grow tired of Stevens’ work. This is another five-plus star must read.
Review originally posted on Amazon and Goodreads on April 11, 2017.