This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
The anthology starts off with a M/M romance which turned out to be so hot and intriguing.
Jonah and Evan have been a couple for almost a year, having met on a matching making site. When Jonah needs tape, he rummages around in Evan’s drawer finding a jewelry box with wedding bands in it along with tickets to New York City on his birthday, New Year’s Day. Confused and not sure he is ready for that kind of commitment, Jonah makes a Wish List of things he hasn’t gotten to do that he is interested in, mainly BDSM scenarios. But when Jonah slips it into his pocket is falls out and Evan finds it.
Evan has been hiding a side of himself, the dominant side. He can’t have BDSM without the love and relationship. Thinking he wouldn’t find that he put it all to the side to have a relationship with Jonah. When he finds Jonah’s wish list, he thinks he has hit the jackpot and tries to show Jonah, he is man enough for what he wants. But then Jonah does something silly that puts it all in jeopardy.
I loved the ebb and flow of this story. Jonah isn’t above cheating, but when it comes to Evan he just can’t do it. He loves Evan, but isn’t sure where they are going and if he is ready to commit his life to him. It’s a story of being true to yourself and growing. But most of all keeping an open mind to all the possibilities in your own relationship and communication.
I wasn’t expecting myself to enjoy this quite as much as I did!
It’s been a while since I have read a Leah Braemel and now I don’t know why I have waited! I love the names of her characters…obviously, since they are the names of two of my kids, Megan and Ryan.
Megan is a Mountie, living up north to pursue her dreams. While in college she met Ryan and her heart was his. He showed her while she was strong she also was submissive to his dominant side. But Ryan would not stand in the way of her dreams and step aside to allow her to go north.
Ryan is a sculpter who had to take on the job of parent to his siblings at a young age. He has loved Megan since the moment he met her. Knowing what it is like to put your dreams aside, he knew he could not do that to Megan.
Megan comes home for Christmas with a surprise: she’s got a job locally and plans to stay. But she is saving it until Christmas as a present to Ryan. Ryan also has a surprise. He is packing up everything to move with Megan up north. He can sculpt anywhere and anywhere is where Megan is. His plan…to tell her on Christmas as her gift.
The two skate around each other for the entire story wanting everything to be a surprise. You never doubt their love for one another and the sacrifices they are willing to make for their love.
The love scene are hot but emotional too. They draw you in like waves hitting the shore, dragging you into their story. I won’t be staying away from Leah Braemel books!
While I have read only two Anne Calhoun books before this one, I have always enjoyed her stories. In particular, I adored Liberating Lacey. When given a chance to review Breath on Embers, I leap in with both feet!
Thea Moretti is just surviving in New York City. The death of her husband hit her hard and she just can’t feel anything except when she is with Ronan, a man she uses for sex. She comes alive in his arms for a brief time, before becoming cold and numb again. There is no future with her.
Ronan O’Rourke is a firefighter who has dealt with loss and grieving in his own life. He understands where Thea is, but isn’t going to sit around being her booty call when he wants more. So he starts a campaign to bring her back to life without pushing her to do so. He’s there when she needs him to relieve the dark that she feels has invaded her soul.
The deep grieving we see in Thea is heartbreaking. When her husband dies in a car crash around Christmas time, she allows grief to take over her life. Picking up her life in Ohio and moving to New York, she sees a therapist her family required she see. But the darkness is always lurking behind her eyes.
The day Thea and Ronan hook up, her therapist suggests it is time to move into the dating arena. But Thea being who she is, snags Ronan for sex and nothing more. The attraction she feels for him keeps her coming back. Ronan shares stories of his uncle with her and losing him in 9/11. He understands where her head is at, but he also knows she needs to start living life.
The love scenes are beyond hot. In fact I am not sure my Kindle will recover from the melt down it took. The book opens up right away with passion when Thea only wants to be used. Public sex, ménage, and gentle connection sex all brings this book to a new level of hotness.
Beyond the sex though is a healing story of growth after a devastating loss for both the hero and heroine. The pain of remembrance, traditions that are too painful to continue, even pain of anniversaries that come and go. The book takes place over three weeks even though Ronan and Thea have been together almost a year. Each date is full of key emotional growth in both characters.
The picture painted by Anne Calhoun through words left me breathless. I felt I was right there with Thea as she walked through New York or even Ronan trying to find the path into Thea’s heart. The world created left me in wonder of the Christmas season through the eyes of these two lovers.
I highly recommend this to anyone looking for a book with hope after a loss so deep within someone’s heart. It helps that there is some incredible sexual tension that roll off the pages. But a connection between a man and woman ultimately is what the story is about.