Saturday, August 17, 2013

Review of From the Ashes by Daisy Harris

He wanted a boyfriend. What he got was a hero.
Fire and Rain, Book 1
When an accident burns down Jesse’s apartment, he’s left broke and homeless, with a giant dog and a college schedule he can’t afford to maintain. And no family who’s willing to take him in.
Lucky for him, a sexy fireman offers him a place to stay. The drawback? The fireman’s big Latino family lives next door, and they don’t know their son is gay.
Tomas’s parents made their way in America with hard work and by accepting help when it was offered, so he won’t let Jesse drop out of school just so he can afford a place to live. Besides, Jesse’s the perfect roommate—funny, sweet and breathtakingly cute. He climbs into Tomas’s bed and tugs at his heart. Until
Jesse starts pushing for more.
Their passion enflames their bodies but threatens to crush Tomas’s family. Tomas is willing to fight for Jesse, but after losing everything, Jesse isn’t sure he can bear to risk his one remaining possession—his heart.


Daisy Harris has once again put readers through the emotional wringer with her latest release, From the Ashes, that brings together two completely opposite men struggling to deal with who they are amongst familial and societal pressure.  Surrounding this intriguing main couple comes a colorful cast of secondary characters with baggage of their own whose stories I look forward to being told.  Take all these facets and you end up with a super steamy story that moves at a sensual pace and resolves in an immensely satisfying way while leaving the door open to return to these appealing yet flawed characters in the future.

Jesse is a young man forced to make it on his own after his father throws him out after discovering him with his boyfriend.  He's new to living the gay lifestyle and longs to experience everything it offers but still maintains a sense of naïveté and lots of blushing.  He's barely making ends meet when a fire destroys his newfound freedom and he's left with only the clothes on his back and an unwanted dog who's as lost as he is.  Luckily the protective instincts of firefighter Tomas kick in and what starts out as a short-term fix ends up becoming something longer-lasting and more profound.  Jesse is immediately drawn to the strong, caring, and sexy Tomas and can't believe he wants to help him for nothing in return.  He enjoys being taken care of and looks forward to the day he can call Tomas his boyfriend and do all the naughty things he's always dreamed about.  I enjoyed Jesse's exuberance and agree with the description of him being puppy-like in being desperate to please others.  He's comfortable in his own skin but respects the boundaries Tomas needs at first in order to accept his own sexuality. Coming from the stoic family that he does leads to his being hesitant in public displays of affection.  He's also cautious in giving his heart to Tomas as he feels like he owes him for so much and doesn't want to confuse affection for appreciation.  There are times though that his youthfulness becomes grating as he tends to pout and run when the going gets tough.  He expects Tomas to always change to fit his needs but doesn't reciprocate as he handles their relationship as a child does early on as opposed to an adult.  It's not until late in the story that I finally feel that they're on an even level which results in an immensely satisfying HEA.

Tomas has long known that he was gay though that part of his life is hidden as his family is very old-fashioned and couldn't cope with it, particularly his brother Diego who lays down certain rules in Tomas's sexual dealings with other men that have led to shame and guilt of himself and his partners.  This has led to numerous alleyway encounters that have deepened the guilt and shame and almost destroys the relationship he and Jesse have just started.  He's immediately drawn to Jesse's kind heart and desperately wants to protect him from hurt.  He enjoys being his hero and taking the lead in their sexual encounters.  Away from the prying eyes of family and coworkers he freely shows affection towards Jesse, particularly jealousy.  It's not until he's threatened with the loss of Jesse's love that he stands up and admits wholeheartedly who he is and who he wants. From start to finish Tomas was a character I truly liked and cared for. I could understand his dilemma in not wanting to disappoint his family and how truly confused his brother made him and applaud how loudly he ultimately stood up for his relationship.  I was left with a very heartwarming feeling seeing Tomas's family subtly accept Jesse and finally give him a place to call home.

Along with the internal struggles of the main couple we also met a few secondary characters with issues of their own.  Jessie's friend Michael has especially been put through the wringer and it has left him bitter and held him back from finding a real relationship.  Tomas's friend Rick considers himself a ladies man and never holds back in using sexual slurs.  I think he protests too much though and believe that the fiery meeting between him and Michael will lead to something more in the future and I leave it in the capable hands of Ms. Harris to lead these bitter men towards a HEA.  From start to finish I found myself fully immersed in the emotional issues of Tomas and Jesse and rooted for their HEA.  Their sexual interludes were super HOT and varied but didn't distract from their character's development or the overall emotional impact of the story.  Ms. Harris has become one of the authors I can count on for a richly rewarding m/m read and look forward to the next installment of this series.

My rating for this is a B+

*I received this book from the author for review in exchange for my honest opinion.

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