Blog Tour, Double Review and Giveaway: After the Fire (Through Hell and Back #2) by Felice Stevens

Title: After the Fire
Series: Through Hell and Back #2
Author: Felice Stevens
Genre: Adult, Gay Romance
Release Date: February 24, 2015
A single bullet destroyed the dreams of Dr. Jordan Peterson. With the man he loved dead, Jordan descends into an endless spiral of pain that nearly costs him his friends, his career and his life. When Jordan meets the aloof Lucas Conover, the investment banker’s mysterious past and unexpected kindness shocks Jordan back to a life he thought was lost forever.
Betrayal and abandonment by the foster brother he’d worshiped as a child taught Lucas Conover never to trust or believe in anyone. Living a solitary life did little to free him of the nightmare of his past; it reinforces his belief he wasn’t meant to fall in love. Working closely with Dr. Jordan Peterson forces him to meet another person whose suffering equals his own and Lucas can’t shake the unexpected the first man to ever get under his skin.
Mutual respect and rising desire bring Jordan and Luke closer than they ever imagined, and each man must come to terms with their past as they struggle 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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Denise’s Review:

When I first read A Walk Through Fire, as most of you know, I ugly cried when Keith died. I also may have (I will neither confirm nor deny) sent Felice Stevens more than one threatening message that she “better fix this”. 🙂  I’m very happy to say that with After the Fire, she did a wonderful job of fixing poor, broken Jordan. He has a LONG way to go during this book.

At the beginning of ATF, Jordan is drunk, taking Xanax, and has pushed away everyone in his life who has meant something. Taking his grief and his anger out on those around him, and barely waking up some mornings. It was truly heart breaking to see what a man as confident and strong as Jordan had done to himself to bring himself to such a dark and lonely place.

Meanwhile, Lucas, Ash’s long lost foster brother, learned the meaning of being alone at 17 when he was completely abandoned, without a word from his foster family. As he moved through life, making very few connections, he felt that relying only on himself was the safest road for him.

As these two meet, and find a sexual attraction, Jordan becomes even more angry, confused, and feels he is betraying Keith’s love. At the same time, Lucas feels nothing but hatred for his foster brother Ash, and refuses to even meet with him.

These men learn to walk the road of love and forgiveness together, as they work through very real issues of grief, anger, addiction and most of all, how to find love in a world that sometimes just doesn’t make sense.

Felice does an amazing job with this book, showing all the cracks in these men, and how with the love of one other, those cracks can be filled, and they can be stronger than before.

I cried in this book, absolutely. Not the ugly cry of Keith’s death, but a steady sadness for all these two men endured to heal themselves, and then to heal each other. Felice has a way of bringing emotions out, and shining a light on all aspects of love. Not only the ones that are happy and light-filled, but the darkness that sometimes gathers with those that you love.

Felice is still a new author on the m/m, having only published her first book, Rescued (http://amzn.to/1Dy5rXF) last August, but she has quickly become a “must read” for me. (And YES! Another stray animal makes an appearance in here.)

I know that Felice has already written Brandon’s story, book 3, and is waiting to hear about publishing it. I know that there will be many of us beating down her door looking to get that in our hot little hands. I am anxious to see how she brings Brandon back to the fold.

Five tear-stained pieces of eye candy from this girl!!!

Morgan’s Review:

Jordan is a broken man. After the death of his former partner Keith, grief has taken over his
entire life. He shuts out his friends and turns to alcohol and anxiety drugs to help him cope. He
is forced back into the world of the living when Lucas contacts him to head a community project
Keith had started before his death.
Having grown up in an unstable foster home Lucas has demons of his own. After a brutal
encounter with his foster father leaves him in a hospital alone and battered, he is forced to live
on the streets and do things he still feels shameful about years later.
The attraction between these two is powerful and something neither of them expected. Jordan
is surprised when he feels attraction again after everything his heart has been through. Luke is
still having trouble coping with the loss of both of his foster brothers and feels everyone will
ultimately let him down. These two have a long struggle ahead of them.
This is a beautiful story with brilliant characters and Felice did an exceptional job. This
installment is a wonderful follow up to A Walk Through Fire and Felice has quickly become one
of my favorite authors. I am really looking forward to the next book in this series.
Five pieces of candy read for me.
After the Fire Excerpt © Felice Stevens 2015
“Damn, you look like shit.” Ash’s sharp gaze raked him up
and down. “Ow.” He rubbed his arm when Drew elbowed him. “Don’t get mad at me,
baby. You know he does. Look at him.” 
“Can we come in, Jordy?” Drew’s kind smile strangely made him feel worse, not
better. 
He said nothing and pulled the front door wider for his friends, leaving them
to trail behind him back through the house and into the spacious kitchen. Sunlight
poured onto the terra-cotta floors and glinted off the glass-fronted maple
cabinets. The kitchen was his pride and joy, and when he and Keith bought the
brownstone, it had been the only room he cared about decorating. Jordan had
always loved staring out of the large bay window as he relaxed with his cup of
coffee in the morning. 
“Did you have a party?” Drew tipped his head to the table, still cluttered with
vodka bottles. 
“Party of one, more likely.” 
Jordan heard Ash’s muttered remark, and despite a throbbing head and a roiling
stomach, he lashed out. 
“Shut up, Davis.” He and Ash had never had the easiest of relationships, and
even though Jordan knew how happy Drew was, the man still irritated the hell
out of him. 
“Why, Jordan? The truth hurts?” Ash’s voice, oddly enough, neither condemned
nor derided him. Instead, it held an overall note of sadness, mixed with
empathy that pulled Jordan up short. “You sit here, night after night, refusing
our dinner invitations, as well as any social contact with Rachel, Mike, or
even Esther. Don’t think we don’t know what you’re doing and why.” 
Jordan winced. Shit. A kindhearted, sympathetic Ash Davis was almost worse than
the usual sarcastic attitude he dished out to everyone. “I’m not in the mood
for company; that’s all.” 
“And I call bullshit on that. You’re still mourning Keith, and I get that, but
that doesn’t mean you don’t go on living. When your only company since he died
has been vodka or whiskey, you’re heading for disaster.” 
“Jordy.” Drew slung an arm around his shoulder. “I’m worried about you. You’ve
lost weight, skipped days at the hospital, and I was told that during surgery
last week—” 
“Are you checking up on me?” He pulled away from Drew, shaking with anger.
“What the fuck, man? You’re not my goddamn keeper.” Humiliation, shame, and a
sense of despair tore through him as he turned away from his two friends to go
back and sit at the kitchen table. He ran his hands over the battered wood of
the long farmhouse table. He remembered how happy he and Keith had been to find
it in the small Pennsylvania town they’d stumbled upon oneSaturday. Making love
on top of it after lugging it up the stairs of the brownstone was a memory
etched forever in his mind. He gripped the edge of the table to steady himself. 
A few deep breaths settled him, yet he couldn’t face his friends. 
For over thirty years he and Drew had been friends; the man knew him better
than anyone else. People might think Drew Klein was sweet and easygoing, but
Jordan knew the core of steel within his friend. Drew refused to back down if
he thought he could help. True to form, Drew dropped into the chair right next
to him, challenging and direct. 
“Jordan. Look at me.” 
It took an effort to tear his gaze away from the tabletop, but he inhaled a
deep breath and smiled into Drew’s face. “What is it?” 
Drew seemed taken aback that Jordan was smiling and not lashing out with his
usual anger. “I’m not checking up on you. It’s common knowledge that you showed
up to your first surgery since Keith died and had to wait an extra hour to
start because you had the shakes.” Drew’s mouth thinned to a hard line. “Are
you crazy showing up drunk for surgery? You could lose your fucking license,
for God’s sake.” 
“I wasn’t drunk. I was overtired and hadn’t eaten since lunchtime the day
before.” 
Behind him he heard Ash snort with laughter. “Are you fucking kidding me,
Jordan? You can come up with a better one than that.” 
“Fuck off, Ash,” he shot back. “I couldn’t care less about your opinion.” 
“Do you care about mine, Jordy? Don’t lie to me.” Drew’s stare remained
unflinching, his eyes soft and knowing. “I know you’re still having a hard time
moving on from Keith’s death, but it’s going to be a year soon.” 
“It’s only been nine months. God almighty, did you expect me to forget him
already?” Horrified, Jordan swept his hand across the table, sending the empty
bottles and food containers crashing to the floor. “Could you forget Ash so
quickly? Keith and I were together for almost four years. Stop pressuring me to
move on with my life. It’s over for me. There will never be anyone else.” 
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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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