Beyond The Surface by Felice Stevens: Blog Tour, Review and Giveaway

Title: Beyond the Surface
Series: The Breakfast Club #1
Author: Felice Stevens
Genre: M/M Romance
Release Date: August 17, 2015

synopsis

On 9/11, firefighter Nick Fletcher’s world changed forever. He’s unable to rid himself of survivor’s guilt, made worse by the secret he hides from his family and co-workers. Nick’s life is centered around helping burn victims, until he is reunited with the man he’d once loved but pushed away. Now he has a second chance at a love he thought lost forever.

For fashion designer Julian Cornell, appearances mean everything. His love affairs are strictly casual, and the only thing he cares about is making his clothing line a success. A chance encounter with the man he loved long ago has Julian thinking for the first time in years there may be more to life than being seen at the best parties and what designer labels to wear.

When Julian’s world takes an unexpected turn, it’s Nick who helps him regain perspective on what matters most in life. Julian, in turn, helps Nick accept who he is and understand he isn’t responsible for tragedies he couldn’t prevent. Lost love found can be even sweeter the second time around and after all the years apart, both men learn to look beyond the surface to find the men they are inside.

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denise review

I read this book with my heart in my throat for much of it. Like most American’s who lived through and experienced 9/11, spending days watching the after effects on TV, seeing the flag raised on the rubble, it still breaks my heart whenever my mind is drawn back to those days. However, that being said, I didn’t live it, see the effects for days, months, years beyond what the national news portrayed. I didn’t know anyone who was there that day. Reading it through Felice’s eyes, being from NYC, having lived through the horrors that befell that beautiful city and its people, caused me to have such strong emotions for Nick.

Nick, a firefighter who lost many of his teammates that day, was not living 14 years later, he was existing. He had healed physically, but not emotionally, and certainly not psychologically. He was still stagnant in his love life, not having come out, and not ever having more than a casual hookup after his time in high school with Julian. As a reader, your heart broke for a man who so many years later, after such a devastating incident didn’t care enough about himself to even complete the simplest of tasks to help himself to a better life. Allowing his guilt to override any ideas that he had about having a happy life, he just went through the motions of life, not ever really living in it.

Julian coming back into his life turned it upside and allowed Nick the chance to heal and change, move forward. The emotions Julian brought back up in Nick were palpable. You could feel how much Nick felt it was worth it to want to make Julian happy, to want to come out to the world, to make himself happy, but just struggled with how best to do it.

I did struggle with Julian somewhat. I felt like his patience with Nick was thin, considering how much time they had spent apart, and how much Nick was moving forward with. However, as I thought on that, I also considered real life. In real life, many people would feel that way, and express that in the form of an ultimatum of sorts. Remembering, again, that Julian was not in NYC for 9/11, he didn’t experience, or go through everything that Nick had gone through, so his impatience with Nick in many ways made sense from his perspective. Also realistically, Nick’s family should have seen how little Nick was truly moving forward in his life, and take steps to intervene. But again, in real life, we often “let sleeping dogs lie” and that could easily happen in the closest of families. In the end, these two men came together and found their second chance at love, despite everything.

I felt like this was Felice’s best work yet. Felice is known to have lots of sweet moments in her books, which I love, and this one certainly did. However, it had lots of bite as well, really scratching at those raw emotions that can hit you hard when you think about an event such as 9/11, and all the effects and angst that go along with it, even after so many years. My heart broke for Nick, and again for all the families and friends of an event that will forever be stuck in so many people’s minds as “9/11”.

My final determination on this book is 4.5 strong pieces of eye candy, and a future re-read for me. Looking forward to sweet Zach’s story next, as this new series got off to a great start.

1-4.5 pieces of eye candy
morgan review

 I just love Felice. Beyond the Surface was just as good as I expected. Full of every type of emotion, this story did not disappoint.

Julian and Nick have a bumpy road ahead of them. Nick is living with some serious emotional and physical issues due to 9/11. Julian is a fashion designer trying hard to stay ahead of his competition and design the next best collection. Julian is very out and proud. Nick, being a firefighter, is living in the closet and is terrified of his friends and family finding out he is gay. These two have a lot to overcome if they want to have a relationship and their story is told beautifully. This book has so much raw emotion and will bring tears for a lot of people. These two grow so much throughout the story and they really are the perfect match. They are exactly what the other needs.

This is a very well written story and one of my favorites from Felice. This is a great start to a new series and I can not wait for the next. 5 pieces of eye candy from me.

excerpt
Julian was in the kitchen, sitting on one of the stools by the counter. He had a glass in front of him filled with what Nick presumed was vodka, having spied the Grey Goose bottle.
“Would you like a drink? I have beer, wine…anything you’d like.”
Nick shook his head, regret piercing his heart as he watched the hope drain from Julian’s eyes.
“I don’t think so. I’m going to head home. I want you to know how much I appreciate what you did for Jamal tonight.”
Julian stood abruptly, kicking the stool away from his feet.
“Don’t treat me like I’m some fucking stranger, Nicky. You owe me. It’s been eighteen years; you think I’m going to let you walk out on me again like you did before? After what just happened between us? After you fell apart? No fucking way. I’m not that same person and neither are you, obviously.”
Taken aback by Julian’s anger, Nick remained mute.
“What the hell is going on with you? One minute you’re tongue fucking me into the next century and the next you’re freaking out. I know I’m a damn good kisser, but this isn’t about us, is it? It has nothing to do with our past and everything to do with you and the shit that’s floating around in your head.”
Julian stepped closer to him and Nick, who normally couldn’t stand people near him, was rooted to the floor, unable to move.
“Talk to me, Nicky. Tell me what happened to you.”
He was so tired of holding himself together, feeling like at any moment he’d shatter into a million tiny pieces, leaving nothing behind but a pile of dust.
Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.
The words poured out of him, flowing unchecked this time. “It should’ve been me. We all went to the Towers to save them. It was my day off, but I went anyway. I heard and couldn’t stay home; I had a duty to help, you know? But I lived and they all died. Why, Julian? Why did I live and they didn’t?”
“Oh, Nick.” Julian held him close. “I don’t have the answers for you. No one does. But I’m going to be completely selfish and say I’m so thankful you did make it and we’re here together after all these years.”
Unflinching green eyes gazed back at him. Clever, beautiful eyes that Nick could never stop dreaming of. Eyes that at one time had held the promise of forever, until Nick ruined everything with his cowardice and shame. Unable to maintain Julian’s scrutiny, Nick broke away and ran to the elevator, his chest heaving, eyes stinging with tears.
“Let me out. I need to leave here. NOW.”
 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.


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