A Hearts On Fire Review
4.5 HEARTS--Now I see why this story has been revised and rereleased. It was a wonderful and passionate journey for Alex and Jake. And I am so happy I got to experience them in Douglas Black's "Port in a Storm."
Imagine you're the type to stick your head in the sand when it comes to dealing with important decisions, like staying with a careless boyfriend, or working a dead-end job to avoid going in the family business, or not discussing anything too important that might upset the steady boat of nothingness your life has become.
This is Alex, in a nutshell. He tends to stay away from conflict, he hates his life but is too afraid to change it because he doesn't do well with making decisions. He is 22. His boyfriend is a jerk times infinity and they live separate lives. Alex graduated with an arts degree that he doesn't use and is working in an Edinburgh airport coffee shop, watching his life pass him by.
But it changes in an instant with the mysterious, care-free Jake. And Jake is a character I enjoy to read about. The author had a true sense of who he was and what he did. I ate this book up. Jake's a dream MC.
This story is contemporary but it sorta had a fantasy-like feel in the wondrous character that is Jake. He takes charge and commands just about every scene with just a level of cool that read effortless. He saw something in Alex and took what he wanted in the same day of meeting the younger guy.
"You're fucking me even though you think I have a boyfriend?"
"Your problem, not mine, Alex."
This quote is from Chapter 2. I've had a hard on for Jake once he uttered those words.
Is there cheating? If you have to get technical, yes, but Alex and his jerk of a boyfriend are really "together" in name only. There was no love loss between them. Alex's father and stepmother add to the angst in his life along with his shitty boyfriend.
Jake is like a fantasy man, offering Alex an escape. Which Alex refuses but he can't stop from being sucked in by Jake's effervescence. And that is the meat and bones of this story. Yes, there is a lot of sex but it fit the characters.
You know how sometimes you read a story and you can tell the author gets what they are talking about? They understand the characters' quirks, nooks and crannies? You might not agree with how the characters' react but you also can't disagree because they were true to themselves?
That is "Port in a Storm". I love a great character driven story with a realistic bent. Alex was the source of reality, holding onto his passivity with a firm grip because he's still finding himself. Some might call him a coward but he was true to himself. And though the story ends with a HEA, not everything was solved. Alex ends still on his search. He just had a friend and companion to help guide him.
"Enjoy yourself, Alex, because human beings are incredibly flawed beasts. We make mistakes, we fuck stuff up, we let ourselves get hurt by things, sometimes things that should hurt us, but most often things that shouldn't. But you should still make an effort to enjoy the ride, because you're going to be a fucking long time dead."
I could rave about Jake for days and still have more to say about him. He's the spark to Alex and I loved watching them make bonfires. Jake is sexy as hell, damaged but not overt with his pain. He certainly held his secrets close to his chest and lived a rich man's fantasy life, traveling all over the world at a drop of a hat but he had dimension. Definitely in my fave MC of all time category.
Can I say kudos in the sex department? It wasn't kinky. Maybe spicy vanilla but it NEVER got boring - the variation, realistic anal sex reactions, inventive places (ex. sleeping pod in airport and on a bridge) and the intensity was always on high.
"How long have you been awake?"
"Hours. Hours and hours and hours, just lying here thinking of all the things I want to do to you. You sleep like the dead, Alex. I've assembled quite a list."
And the secondary characters, especially Mel? Perfect - hilarious, always had Alex's back and was real. Loved him. I wouldn't mind if he suddenly wanted a man of his own and star in his own book.
2014 was the year of male authors for me. And Douglas Black was one of my discoveries. I've yet to be disappointed in anything I've read from him but this story is definitely my favorite, so far.
Wonderful contemporary erotic romance. There was angst that wavered into the heavy department for brief bits but this is definitely bearable to read without having to curl up in a ball. The humor was spot on. The length was perfect because it gave, the main characters time to let their actions build. I have a gazillion quotes but I don't want to spoil and think interested readers should discover them for themselves.