Embrace the Fire
Through Hell and Back Series, Book 3
Audio Release: 10.31.17
Narrator: Kale Williams
Listening Length: 9 hours and 42 minutes
Cover Design: Reese Dante
Cover Photo: Varian Krylov/ Strangeland Photography
Brandon Gilbert has spent years in hiding, but he's finally 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.
“You don’t know? All weekend I’ve been deluding myself. We were caught up in this bubble we created, but now? Now that I have to come face-to-face with your brothers and Gage.” Tash shook his head. “I don’t know if I can do this.”
Heart beating madly, Brandon swallowed. “Can’t do what?” Don’t do this, please; don’t hide yourself away.
“Us. You, me. We’re at different places in our lives. You’re starting out, and with Ash and Luke, you have a whole new world open to you—places to explore and new people to meet.”
Tash unbuckled his seat belt and opened the car door but didn’t get out. “I’m the opposite. I’m ready to settle down. I’m not interested in nightlife and the latest scene. I can’t and won’t ask you to give it all up.” Tash climbed out of the car and slammed the door.
The hell he says. If Tash thought he’d simply state his opinions like God and proclaim what Brandon should do with the rest of his life, he was in for a fight. He wrenched open the door. “I’m not giving anything up. I was never into that.” Brandon slammed the car door behind him with a vicious thump. “Who do you think you are? You say you don’t want to be with me, yet you then get the right to lay out my life in neat little puzzle pieces so it all comes perfectly together as you see fit.”
Tash had stopped in his tracks but didn’t turn around. Hopeful that was a sign he was at least listening, Brandon continued.
“Sure we were in a bubble; it was wonderful this weekend, beautiful and amazing.” He advanced on Tash and stood before him. “Don’t think I don’t know, maybe better than anyone, how something so perfect and magical can be ripped away with no warning.” He put a hand on Tash’s shoulder, hoping Tash wouldn’t move away from him. “And now the hard stuff begins—reality and all the trouble that comes with it. But aren’t you willing to try? See where this journey takes us?”
“Don’t say it. I’ll tell you what I am. I’ve been homeless and hungry. I’ve lived on the streets with rats, not knowing where I would sleep at night. Do you think I’m looking for a man whose only interest is a twenty-dollar glass of wine and where the next party is?”
Tash said nothing, and Brandon had no more strength to argue. Besides, they were at the clinic to do a job. Last time he’d screwed up by running out, and he’d be damned if he’d do it again.
I can't think of a better story to complete this series than Embrace the Fire. An age-gap romance, it delivered the drama and angst I expected for this series while still keeping things fresh with Brandon and Tash's own demons to overcome.
Brandon has had his own version of hell to live through, just as his foster brothers Ash and Luke before him did, and through his strength and determination comes through on the other side-but still with shadows in his past tormenting him and hanging over his head. He's an intelligent, selfless young man who has seen more in his life than others twice his age. Tash maintains that he is too old for Brandon, though his heart and body don't really care about that at all. Having gone through his own turmoil previously, he's hesitant but at the same time wants to give Brandon help and support-while quickly falling for him.
Once again, Felice Stevens totally drew me in with all of the emotions and my desire to see the final piece of the brothers' puzzle resolved, as well as for Brandon and Tash to find peace and contentment with each other. They fit so well together, and their chemistry is plainly evident from the moment they meet. Their relationship may seem quick, but it also felt right, and not like insta-love.
The story wraps up just about everything surrounding all three brothers, with a small bit of an opening still left regarding Donovan, the bad guy street boss, though I think that part of the story was probably resolved enough to consider it done. There is a nice epilogue that not only gives us final conclusions for all three couples from the series, but also for Mike and Rachel which was a nice touch.
Embrace the Fire could technically be read on its own, but I honestly believe most readers would get much more satisfaction from it by reading the other two stories in the series first to get the full background for Ash, Drew, Jordan and Luke. This series was fantastic, and Embrace the Fire gets 4.5 stars from me. This book and the entire series is meant for readers 18+ for adult language and M/M sexual content.
The narration: Once again Kale Williams does a great job at bringing this series to life, both from a technical standpoint and regarding the characters’ emotions. I do still feel there could be more differentiation between character voices with the series as a whole, for me it would just make it easier to identify who’s speaking without being prompted by the accompanying details in the story (“so-and-so said” type cues). That aside, I was still able to fully enjoy this story in its audio form, and again the narration garners 4 stars from me.
About the Author
Felice Stevens has always been a romantic at heart. While life is tough, she believes there is a happy ending for everyone. She started reading traditional historical romances as a teenager, then life and law school got in the way. It wasn't until she picked up a copy of Bertrice Small and became swept away to Queen Elizabeth's court that her interest in romance novels was renewed.
But somewhere along the way, her reading shifted to stories of men falling in love. Once she picked up her first gay romance, she became so enamored of the character-driven stories and the overwhelming emotion there was no turning back.
Felice lives in New York City with her husband and two children. Her day begins with a lot of caffeine and ends with a glass or two of red wine. Although she practices law, she daydreams of a time when she can sit by a beach and write beautiful stories of men falling in love. Although there is bound to be some angst along the way, a Happily Ever After is always guaranteed.