By Felice Stevens
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
When a brutal attack from a jealous competitor leaves Noah Strauss, darling of the modeling world, physically scarred and emotionally damaged, he quits the runway to become a psychologist. Using his contacts from his time in the spotlight, he creates One Call Away, a radio show dedicated to gay men looking for love, advice or someone to talk to. But with secrets of his own and a mother who refuses to understand the career path he’s chosen, the one person Noah can’t seem to help is himself.
On a drunken dare from the senior partner’s grandson, Oren Leavitt calls Noah’s radio show, pretending to be gay. Only Oren isn’t certain if he’s pretending. He’s left his strict Orthodox Jewish upbringing behind, but the guilt remains. Guilt that his actions have prevented his sister from finding a husband and guilt that he’s failed his parents. Talking to “Dr. Noah” helps, and as he finds himself calling the man again and again, he knows he must be honest. But Oren is unsure if he’s lying to Noah or himself.
For Noah, trust is paramount; he’s been deceived in his personal and professional life and while he desperately wants to help Oren, he also finds himself falling for the sweet and tortured man. Oren is trapped: he risks losing his job and more importantly the love and security of his family but knows he can’t hide if he wants to be with Noah. When unresolved heartaches from the past rise up to control the present, Noah and Oren discover that love often comes from the most unexpected places, and sometimes a call for help not only saves a life, it can be a new and beautiful beginning.
One Call Away is another 5+ star read from author Felice Stevens. This story features Noah, a 32-year-old psychologist readers were first introduced to in the “Through Hell and Back” series, and 28-year-old yet-to-be-outed Orthodox Jewish lawyer Oren.
Noah hosts his weekly radio call-in show, the only one of its kind in NYC, volunteers numerous hours on the call line at Drew’s clinic, and counsels patients in his private practice. He leads a social life of solitude, with the exception of his cat Slink and the occasional meal out with his older brother Jeremy or phone call to his mom. Noah may devote himself selflessly to others in need, but when it comes to himself, he fights against the demons left over from his successful modeling career 15 years ago that left him disfigured when a jealous competitor brutally attacked him and his inability to confront his mother about persistently egging him to return to the career he hated.
Oren, on the other hand, is plagued by guilt and denial. His overtly religious family wants him to settle down and marry a nice woman, but that pursuit has never felt right to him, and he left the religious community years ago, and now works long ungodly hours to garner a six-figure income. A combination of guilt and loyalty drives him to provide for his parents and unmarried sister with a monthly check, but he struggles to visit as often as he should. The first time he hears Noah’s voice – when dared by his obnoxious, drunken bosses from his law firm to place an anonymous call to Noah’s radio show – sets the wheels in motion for a life-changing journey for both Oren and Noah, one of upheaval, self-discovery, and fulfillment. Raw and touching, it’s an emotionally poignant journey for two drifting souls whose hearts connect on such an intimate and deeply rooted plane.
The storyline and characterization were seamless and plausible. The writing was superb, as usual. Noah’s and Oren’s relationship evolved so naturally and realistically, and together they helped on another heal – they struggled together, they supported one another, they challenged one another, and they loved one another. The physical chemistry and sex scenes were some of the most deeply touching I have ever read – searing hot and sexy, and the complexity, tenderness, and intensity of expressing their genuine love for one another was… wow.
I absolutely loved “One Call Away”: the tenderness, the expression of true love, the rightness of it all. Noah and Owen are a truly beautiful couple with a beautiful love story. Another must read from Stevens.
Part of the book that you’ll smile to yourself about?
Harlan… the thought had crossed my mind early on….
I hope Stevens gives us a story about Jeremy and Blake.
I voluntarily read and reviewed an Advanced Reader’s Copy of One Call Away.
Review originally posted on Amazon and Goodreads on May 20, 2017.