Brandon Gilbert has spent years in hiding, but finally he’s accomplished his dream of working as a public school teacher. When offered the chance to help bullied children, there was no way he could say no. Not to mention that meeting Dr. Tash Weber, the psychiatrist who helps them, a sad yet sexy older man, ignited a spark inside Brandon he’d never had before.
Though five years have passed since the death of his lover, Dr. Sebastian “Tash” Weber has no interest in relationships or love. But young, enigmatic Brandon awakens his heart and his desire. Despite Tash’s best efforts to push him away, Brandon unlocks the passion for life Tash thought he’d lost forever.
Falling in love wasn’t part of the plan for either Brandon or Tash, but neither family disapproval nor self-doubts can stop them from embracing the fire that burns between them. And when Brandon returns home to fight for a future he never imagined possible, he and Tash discover that the one thing worth fighting for has been with them all along.
Goodreads Link: http://bit.ly/1HvOvTv
Goodreads Series Link: http://bit.ly/1GMKQER
Embrace the Fire is the third (and final?) book in the Through Hell and Back series by Felice Stevens. This book features the last foster brother for the reader to meet, Brandon and the previously met, and dashing Tash.
One of the things that I enjoyed most about this book was that it wasn’t filled with tons of angst. I have said on more than one occasion that Book 1, A Walk Through Fire, broke me into pieces when I read it. It is probably on my all time list as number 1, the book that I cried the hardest over. Yes, Felice put me back together in Book 2, but I will always remember how broken I was after Book 1. In many ways, that is what you want in a book. You want it to stick with you, and this entire series has done that for me.
However, there are times you want to read a book, especially the final book in a series with a smile on your face through most of it, having some “insta-love” and seeing that the worst that happens is Brandon believing he had committed a horrible crime. Those books stick with you for a different reason. They make you smile, they make you laugh, they make you happy because you know the main characters, have finally found their love, and their entire family finds a completeness they had been missing.
That’s what this book was for me, it was sweet, and honest, and loving. Tash, while older, and hesitant about the difference in their ages, was no match for the determination of Brandon who decided that he wanted that man without question. I also really enjoyed the fact that although Brandon was beyond grateful to have found his foster brothers, and reconciled, he knew that his place was by Tash’s side, and was not willing to throw himself into a situation he wasn’t comfortable with, merely because his brothers had been searching for him for years.
This book was such a great finish to the series. It answered the questions, and let you know that everyone was doing well. I loved that we still were given a glimpse into the loves and relationships of Ash and Luke. You weren’t just allowed to catch up with them, but got to still see the connection the brothers had with their lovers.
And the best part was the epilogue. That was worth its weight in gold. We wait for our HEA, and many times it is “fade to black”. This was more than fade to black, it was a glimpse into the future for these three (actually four) couples, so we were able to see their HEA in living color. That brought more than a tear to my eye, it brought a huge smile to my face, and left me that way for the rest of the day.
My final determination is four pieces of eye candy, and my sincere hope that we can see glimpses of these boys in the future.
Five-ish Good Questions with Felice Stevens:
(A feature on Two Chicks Obsessed with Books and Eye Candy)
- So…tell us about the main character(s)…not Brandon and Tash, the animals, what do you have for us in this book? J In all honesty, I absolutely love how much you put into your animals in your books, it warms my heart even more when I read your books. I think of that as your hallmark, so tell us why that is important to you.
I’m a huge animal lover; when I was a child I used to feel the strays in our backyard, so it always seemed natural to have animals in my stories. Rescued was personal, as it is based on a real life pit bull named Pearl who was rescued from a laboratory, where they were performing brain experiments on her. She is doing very well and lives with my friend.
- Brandon is a public school teacher in NYC, which has to be very stressful. What drives him to want to give so much in such a demanding environment?
When you read the book, the underlying theme for Brandon is that he is not your average NYC hipster 25 year old. Because he grew up in such a fractured environment, he doesn’t want others to live like that and wants to make a difference to children, like the teachers in his life made a difference to him.
- Embrace the Fire is a May-December romance. Why did you choose to do that with these men? (I’ll admit I haven’t read but one or two of these, so I am excited to see what you do with this.)
I’ll tell you it chose me. People may not believe it and I didn’t’ until I began writing myself, but the characters really drive the story. I started this book three times and each time, if I veered away from Brandon’s love interest being Tash, they fought me. I have to think of it as being that they really love each other (as I evidenced from the instant attraction) and nobody, especially me, the author, was going to keep them apart. Lol.
- What is your vision of what Brandon and Tash look like? Do you have celebrity inspirations/crushes for these two characters?
I have a Pinterest Board where I play around with celebrity inspirations. Tash is a Bradley Cooper with his glasses and Brandon is Alex Pettyfair. Check out my board for some cute pictures of the guys.
- I get arrested in Tampa, FL (cause it might happen in July at Rainbow Con, just saying J ). I call you for advice. Give me five words of advice.
Hmm, free legal advice huh? Well I could say “Tell them it’s ‘That time of the month’ Always got us out of gym because our male gym teacher was too embarrassed to question us.” Or “Blame it on the alcohol”
Other Books by Felice Stevens:
Brandon glanced around the empty room. “Guess we’re a little early.” Chairs were set around in a haphazard manner, and the desk in the front was bare of any material.
When Gage checked his watch, he shrugged. “Yeah, only by about ten minutes. Why don’t I go tell them we’re here?”
Before Brandon had a chance to answer him, Gage left. After wandering around the room, Brandon stood at the window, looking out over the dark city sky. It was times like these he wondered if he could risk it all, go back home, and deal with the consequences. He understood a little better now, with the wisdom coming from a life hard-lived, why his foster mother became so overprotective of him. Years of being beaten down and weakened by living with a bully and abuser like Munson would make anyone want to believe in a religion that promised salvation. While he didn’t understand the religious aspect, he supposed it gave her something to hold on to when her life crashed and burned around her.
The door opened. “Oh, hello. I didn’t realize anyone was here yet.”
Brandon turned from his contemplation and faced the man at the door. His eyes widened, recognizing the man he’d seen crossing the street. Once again his body registered an unusual heated response.
“Yes. I’m here for the mentoring program. I came with Gage Taylor.” The man was even better-looking close up. His eyes were hazel with streaks of gold, and his face had a masculine, rugged quality. Not classically handsome, but arresting and, in Brandon’s eyes, so much more memorable.
“Oh great.” The man entered the room, leaving the door ajar behind him. “We were hoping Gage was able to pick up a few volunteers to come tonight.” He extended his hand. “I’m Tash. I run the program.”
At the press of Tash’s hand, a shiver rippled through Brandon. Deciding he was reading more into the touch than he thought, Brandon withdrew his hand a little quicker than he normally would and sat in one of the chairs, drawing a quizzical look from Tash.
“Tash. That’s an unusual name.” To his shock, Brandon realized he’d gotten hard. Mortified and hoping his cheeks weren’t red, he shifted in his seat, trying to get comfortable. This had never happened before. Ever. He took several deep breaths and concentrated on the man speaking.
Tash rubbed his chin ruefully. “Would you believe my mother is an avid reader of Regency romances and Sebastian was her favorite name? My sister couldn’t pronounce it when she was a baby, and it was shortened to Tash.” He chuckled. “I suppose I should be grateful she didn’t also add the title she loved the most, or you’d be calling me Duke.”
They were still laughing when Gage walked in, followed by a group of people, some of whom Brandon recognized from the pictures hanging on the wall.
“Oh good, Randy, you met Tash.” Gage dropped into the chair next to Brandon. “Randy is the teacher I told you guys about. Even though he joined our staff as a permanent teacher only this year, he’s already made a tremendous difference in the lives of the kids he teaches.”
Brandon’s face colored, and he squirmed under the scrutiny as the attention of everyone in the room shifted to him. “It’s no big deal,” he muttered. “The kids are awesome and eager to learn.”
“My man here is too modest.” Gage stretched out his long legs. “Within weeks of the start of the school year, all the kids could talk about was Mr. Gilbert and how much they love him. All the kids want to be in his classroom. He’s taken it upon himself to stay late, well after school is over, to work with any of the kids who are struggling, not only the ones in his class.”
“Come on, Gage, cut it out. That’s not why we’re here,” Brandon protested, unzipping his jacket. He hung it on the back of his chair. “Don’t hold up the meeting. No one wants to hear you talk about me.”
“But you’re wrong, Randy,” Tash cut in. “You’re exactly the type of person we need for this program. Someone young, who the kids can identify with, someone who doesn’t look down on them. Someone with empathy for their pain.”
Their gazes held, and Brandon’s breath grew short in his throat. Like a movie where the sound is muted, the rest of the room disappeared; it was as if only he and Tash were present in that small conference room, with Tash whispering the words straight to Brandon’s heart.
Instead of the familiar trepidation at facing new people, Tash’s presence centered Brandon, untangling all the knots the big ball of his hopes and dreams had twisted themselves up into. For the first time in what seemed like forever, Brandon felt safe.
“You make me sound special. I’m not.” It was the truth. All he gave those kids was his time and concern. They craved attention and the knowledge that another person gave a damn about them. Brandon was anything but special. If they knew who he really was, they’d avoid him.
“Everyone is special.” The man he recognized as the founder of the clinic, Dr. Drew Klein, spoke. “That’s what we need these kids to understand. Because they’re different, either in their looks or their sexual orientation, that doesn’t make them weird or bad. Loving someone differently from the norm doesn’t make you wrong.” The doctor smiled at him with a clear, friendly expression.
Brandon wondered if the doctor was gay. In the chair next to his, Tash’s presence brushed up against him, warming him as if he’d been caressed. Brandon’s skin prickled with awareness.
“There’s a chance Randy can help you since he’s already taken it on himself to tutor the kids.” The door opened, and a young man walked in carrying a box of coffee and a bag that smelled like sugar. Gage’s eyes lit up. “I didn’t know you were having coffee and snacks.”
Tash chuckled and bent over to whisper in Brandon’s ear. “If I hadn’t seen how dedicated Gage was to these kids, I’d swear he did this for the free coffee and doughnuts.”
Brandon snorted, knowing well his fellow teacher’s propensity for caffeine and sweets. “I know. The man should just get an IV of the stuff.”
He and Tash shared a smile, and Brandon’s heart gave a funny thump in his chest. Heat rose in his face, and Brandon knew he blushed. Embarrassed, he fidgeted with his watchband, then raked a hand through his hair. He couldn’t sit still and tore his gaze away from Tash’s mesmerizing eyes.
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Author Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | GoodReadsWebsite: http://www.felicestevens.com/Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/felicestevensauthor?ref=hlTwitter: http://www.twitter.com/FeliceStevens1GoodReads: http://bit.ly/1FlTTbp
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