Title: Fire & Rain
Author: Carter Quinn
Series: Kansas, #2 (The sequel to The Way Back)
Genre: Contemporary/Interracial Romance
Length: Novel (205 pages)
Publisher: Carter Quinn books (January 27th 2015)
Heat Level: Moderate
Heart Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥4.5 Hearts
Blurb: Eric Walker has learned hard lessons from his past. He’s no longer the alcoholic husband hiding in the closet. He’s no longer the guy who tried to steal his brother’s boyfriend. He has two items on his agenda: fix his relationship with his brother, Jason, and find his own soul mate. But when it comes to relationships, Eric’s track record looks more like a train wreck. He craves intimacy almost as much as he fears reverting to his old ways.
Johnny Osborne has watched Eric mature over the last year and a half and has fallen in love with him in the process. He’s tried being patient, but it’s gotten him nowhere. No matter how many disastrous blind dates Johnny sets Eric up on, Eric seems determined to consider everyone but the man who’s been right in front of him all along.
Eric and Johnny aren’t the only ones struggling with their emotions. After his apartment burns down, their coworker, Travis, can’t choose between the guy he’s been crushing on for months and the guy he’s afraid to love. He seems determined to re-enact every blunder of Eric’s past.
Will Travis learn from Eric’s mistakes before the man who loves him walks away for good? Will Eric ever see that best friends make the best lovers?
Review: Eric Walker didn’t make the greatest impression on readers in the first book in this series, The Way Back, as the man who would steal his brother’s boyfriend all in an effort to “find himself.” I didn’t start this book having the highest expectations for the character, and straight away, you learn that his love interest at the end of that story, Mitch, has left him. I was like, well score one for Karma! But then Eric had to go and make himself relatable, loveable and attainable, he had to go and redeem himself.
Eric is now managing the gay bar Mo’s and has become a father figure of sorts to some of the younger employees there. Friend, co-worker and star of the show, Queen Johnny, keeps setting Eric up on the most hysterically disastrous blind dates. And Eric is clueless, he just keeps putting up a minimal fight, then caving and going on the dates. Until the night, he shows up and it’s Johnny on the other side of the booth. Suddenly Eric sees Johnny in a new light. He realizes that it’s been Johnny all along.
But if it’s Johnny then Eric has finally found happiness and the minute Eric lets himself be happy, lets his guard down, and assumes his emotions, his heart is safe, he gets hurt. So he damn near breaks the foundation of the relationship before it’s even solidified in an effort to get ahead of being hurt. If Eric admits how he feels about Johnny, then he has to admit to the failures of his past, and that might be more than our newfound hero is capable of.
Eric is like a flame, he burns hot and fast and his emotions are explosive. Johnny is like Rain, a steady flowing current that grounds Eric and shows him he deserves to be loved. The two sort of balance each other out. I am always amazed when an author can take a character that is hated or loathed entirely and make them do a complete 180, make them someone you are now rooting for. That is exactly what Quinn has done with Eric.
One of my favorite parts of this story was the conversation Eric had with his brother Jason when he finally swallowed his pride and approached Jason, asking for that forgiveness.
Oh but the fiery passion that Eric and Johnny share was a strong element to this story as well.
Eric has to let go of this notion he has of a the perfect soul mate, he has to get over Riley and Mitch and his ex-wife and the feeling that he has been wronged in some way before he can finally see Johnny through the eyes Johnny deserves to be loved through. And Johnny’s ever-present strength, even in the face of Eric’s denial and while always impeccable dressed and sporting 5-inch heels, well it was impressive.
Detailed, descriptive and precise with three-dimensional, flawed characters and strong secondary characters to add depth to the story. Fire and Rain is a must read if you are a fan of hard-fought happy ever afters. And if you, like me, absolutely loathed Eric after reading The Way Back, then you have to at least give him a chance at redemption by reading this follow-up novel.
* I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review through http://mmgoodbookreviews.wordpress.com *