Title: Beyond the Surface (The Breakfast Club #1)
Author: Felice Stevens
Publisher: Self Published
Release Date: August 17, 2015
Page Count: 229
Reviewed by: Gigi
Heat Level: 4 flames out of 5
Rating: 4 stars out of 5
On 9/11, firefighter Nick Fletcher’s world changed forever. He’s unable to rid himself of survivor’s guilt, made worse by the secret he hides from his family and co-workers. Nick’s life is centered around helping burn victims, until he is reunited with the man he’d once loved but pushed away. Now he has a second chance at a love he thought lost forever.
For fashion designer Julian Cornell, appearances mean everything. His love affairs are strictly casual, and the only thing he cares about is making his clothing line a success. A chance encounter with the man he loved long ago has Julian thinking for the first time in years there may be more to life than being seen at the best parties and what designer labels to wear.
When Julian’s world takes an unexpected turn, it’s Nick who helps him regain perspective on what matters most in life. Julian, in turn, helps Nick accept who he is and understand he isn’t responsible for tragedies he couldn’t prevent. Lost love found can be even sweeter the second time around and after all the years apart, both men learn to look beyond the surface to find the men they are inside.
Firefighters and hurl/healing/comfort? Sign me up!
Nick Fletcher and Julian Cornell were once lovers, long ago in high school. They were experimenting with each other and what is was like being gay and were in love. But Nick comes from a long line a macho firefighters and tried to pretend he wasn’t gay. When he broke things off with Julian, it broke both of their hearts but neither looked back.
Fast forward almost two decades and Julian is a new, very successful man. He is a popular clothing designer on the fast track to making the big time. He doesn’t have time for relationships, but eases his loneliness by having sex with young, hot male models. He is happy and content. He has great friends, a thriving business and no-strings sex whenever he wants.
Nick has since become a firefighter. He is haunted by the events of 9/11 where he lost many firefighting brothers and sisters. Being a probie at the time, he was ordered out of the towers just before they fell on his friends. He was badly wondered and burned and spent months and months in the hospital healing physically. He has been living a quiet, lonely, guilt-ridden life since then. He volunteers his time at a children’s burn unit in an effort to ease his guilt and make a difference in these kid’s lives. He is determined to give them a better life and recovery than he had.
A chance meeting at a bar with Nick’s sister and her girlfriend, who is Julian’s assistant, sets these two in each others paths again. Things do not go well. There is still a lot of resentment from Julian over the fact that Nick broke his heart so many years ago. And by this time, Nick has given up on sex and relationships because he doesn’t feel worthy and attractive.
The first half of this book deals with how Julian and Nick meet again and how they handle their anger and then eventually a friendship over the children in the burn, where Julian has started to visit on a regular basis. There is no passionate connection from their early love affair. This was a bit of a let down for me. I usually prefer some amped up sexual tension/attraction during the anger and friendship stages, but these two just didn’t have that spark of former lovers. And while Nick was this big, buff, beautiful hero in name and actions, he was so depressed that it was sad to read.
But the second half? These two find finally realize that old spark is still there and start a hot and heavy sexual relationship once again. There were a few bumps to go over including the fact that Nick is still deeply, deeply in the closet with everyone and Julian refuses to go back in the closet for anyone.
By the end, all is well and they get a fabulous HEA with each other and Julian’s business that will make you want to jump for joy! Things may have started out rough, but these are two honest, generous men who see through all the crap and finally realizes that nothing is as important as being together and in love.
I was going to give this one 5 stars, but the first half of the book was just too frustrating for a perfect score. But FIREFIGHTERS and Hurt/healing/comfort go quite a long way with me.
The Breakfast Club Series
P.S. The Breakfast Club is a group of three gay men, Julian, bar owner Marcus and nerdy and sweet Zach. I’m pretty excited to see who gets the next book!