Audiobook Review: After the Fire (Through Hell and Back, #2) by Felice Stevens

A single bullet destroyed the dreams of Dr. Jordan Peterson. With his lover dead, Jordan descends into an endless spiral of self-destruction that nearly costs him his friends, his career and his life. When Jordan finds himself working closely with the aloof Lucas Conover, the investment banker's mysterious past and unexpected kindness shocks him back into a life and emotions he'd thought lost forever.

The betrayal by the foster brother he'd worshiped taught Lucas Conover never to trust or believe in anyone. Living a solitary life doesn't free him of the nightmare of his youth; it reinforces his belief that he would never fall in love. When the death of one of his clients forces him to work closely with Dr. Jordan Peterson, he meets a person whose suffering exceeds his own. Though Jordan rejects his effort to help, something within Luke pushes him discover more about the first man to ever get under his skin. As Luke lets down his guard and Jordan lets go of his pain, desire takes control. Each man must come to terms with past struggles if they are 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.

Narrated by: Kale Williams
Listening Length: 10 hours and 2 minutes

Reviewer - Annery

This is book 2 in the “Through Hell and Back” series narrated by the excellent Kale Williams. I’d say that one star is for his performance. The choice of narrative speed and voices is exactly on point and lends poignancy and grit to the story while also grounding it. The book works fairly well as a stand-alone but I’d say having book one in your pocket enhances the experience as far as character development and emotions.

This is a story about mourning, second chances, and forgiveness. Forgiving others and perhaps the hardest thing, forgiving ourselves. So … a little on the heavy but not overwhelmingly so.

The story picks up nine months or so after tragic event at the end of book one and Dr. Jordan Peterson is still a walking shell. Existing but not living. Enter Lucas Conover, one of the financial advisors left in place to help steer the foundation Jordan is meant to be to be heading. Lucas threatens to wrest control of said foundation due to Jordan’s lack of interest. It turns out that calling the good Doctor out on his failings is exactly what he needs to kick him back into gear. Lucas and Jordan meet and though it’s not lust or much less love at first sight there certainly is a spark and that’s all she wrote.

I liked that Jordan and Lucas, even though they had a growing attraction, got to know each other over the course of some months working together on matters for the foundation and that the relationship evolved from that base. I liked that Lucas and Jordan had to revise or adjust attitudes and beliefs and that they were open to change. I liked that both had to overcome more than the usual “will they/won’t they” scenario but rather some pretty authentic problems particularly Jordan. I felt like the author presented a solution to his problems that was evidently well researched and narratively well executed. I liked the participation of friends and family introduced in Book 1, particularly Drew and of course Ash, though the Lucas and Ash “conversation” was left for far too late in the book for my liking but that’s a minor niggle.

My major niggles are more personal. There were perhaps one too many “issues” in this book and at times these seemed to tip the scales: mourning, grief, addiction, childhood abuse, the failures of the foster system, homelessness, drug dealers, illegal guns etc. One or two these would have been sufficient for one book.

The other thing is really personal and perhaps irrelevant. I’m giving nothing away by saying that Jordan is grieving the abrupt violent loss of his long term partner and fiance and yet about a year out he’s IN LOVE with another guy? I dunno … seems sudden or that the Doc’s affections may be fickle. We know he’s not. So maybe for moi a little more time might have eased the way? Unless we’re going with Keith, the dead fiance, left this man Lucas to keep Jordan sane, loved, and safe? Would Patrick Swayze do that for Demi Moore at the end of Ghost? Maybe. Let’s be generous and with that.

If you’re in the mood for an issues book with some serious sexy times on the side this will fit the bill nicely, but I’d go with the audio because it will surely enhance your enjoyment of the story.

A review copy was provided.

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