Book Title: Through Fire
(Portland, ME, novel #3)
Author: Freya Barker
Genre: Contemporary Romance & Woman’s Lit
Release Date: July 19, 2016
Violence corroded her…
Obedience defiled her…
Fear kept her chained…
Freedom is hard to embrace when she’s never learned to trust. Yet in the span of a second, she grabs a single opportunity and runs toward it. Straight into the sanctuary of a pub at the end of a wharf.
She doesn’t understand the concept of friendship. She’s never felt the connection of a relationship. She’s as innocent as the driven snow and yet tainted with corruption. Still, she finds herself surrounded by people who accept her, without even knowing the first thing about her.
But one of them is determined to dig deeper.
He treasures his friends, yet he’s steered clear of committed relationships. He likes his life comfortably predictable and entirely controlled. Until it isn’t. For months he’s avoided interacting with The Skipper’s newest addition. Perhaps realizing that once he looked deeply into those liquid brown eyes, he wouldn’t be able to turn away.
When his present and her past puts them both on the brink of change, they are forged through fire as one.
“Can I see?” His voice is right behind me now and I can almost feel the heat coming off his body.
Still without turning, I drop the peeler and hold my arm out to the side, slowly pulling up the sleeve of my sweater. He steps into my field of vision and wraps one of his large hands around my wrist, pulling my arm out further so he can see. It’s nothing. At least nothing compared to some marks I’ve carried. Still, the hiss of his breath over the raised blister on my forearm seems to burn itself into my skin, and I lightly tug at my arm. He releases it instantly.
“Did you put something on it?”
He settles his back against the counter, his arms crossed over his chest and it would be rude not to look at him. Although his voice sounds gruff, almost curt, his blue eyes only convey concern.
“I did,” I confirm. “It doesn’t hurt. Much,” I add, not quite sure why I felt the need to.
“Have you taken anything for the pain?”
I shake my head forcefully. “No.” No way in hell will I take any drugs. Not even if my arm was on fire.
I can feel him examine me closely and I keep my eyes focused on what my hands are doing. “Make sure to keep it clean. When those blisters open, it can easily get infected,” he finally says.
This time I simply nod. He seems satisfied with that and takes a look at the recipe while I pick up the peeler again.
For the next half hour we work in relative silence as we finish cutting the ingredients and toss them in the large pan, which is now ready to go in the oven. Tim’s easily taken charge and it’s obvious he is no slouch in the kitchen. I have to admit I feel more relaxed today than I did yesterday. Or even this morning when I should’ve been excited about meeting Viv at her apartment—my apartment now—but was worrying about the day ahead instead.
“I can teach you.” Tim’s statement, out of the blue, startles me. “Cooking, I mean. I’m no chef, but I can handle the basics.”
I’m not able to mask the flash of excitement at the prospect. Pam had tried but, with the constant interruptions at the shelter, I’d had a hard time staying on task. I quickly straightened my face, though, the moment I started thinking about the logistics. It would mean being alone with this large man for stretches of time. And where? At the apartment? Here at The Skipper? No. I can’t. I know enough to know that if a man offers you favors, it’s for good reason. Usually favors in return. Otherwise what would he get out of it?
He seems a little taken aback by my question. “Because you want to learn. You said so. Never too late to start. And if I’ve learned anything in my years it’s that regret is the one true failure. Besides,” he says with a shrug of his massive shoulders, “I like cooking. I don’t do it often enough.”
“Okay.” I slap my hand over my mouth but it’s too late to hold back the inadvertent response.
His eyes twinkle with amusement. “Good.” He nods with a smile, before turning back to the stove.
What have I gotten myself into? Idiota.
Listen to Freya read an excerpt from Through Fire
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Freya Barker inspires with her stories about ‘real’ people, perhaps less than perfect, each struggling to find their own slice of happy. She is the author of the Cedar Tree Series and the Portland, ME, novels.
A recipient of the RomCon “Reader’s Choice” Award for best first book, “Slim To None”, Freya has since published eight books. She continues to spin story after story with an endless supply of bruised and dented characters, vying for attention!
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MORE IN THE SERIES:
Well I’m here again Mrs Late as Usual, middle name procrastination.
So late that many reviews have been written for the books in the Portland ME series, some beautifully eloquent and many emotional and descriptive. There is very little I can add, nothing I will say better but here’s the thing, when it’s an author who has given me the hours of pleasure that Freya Barker has, then I kind of have to get the fuck over myself and make an effort (eventually!) whether eloquent or not because reviews help the authors to get better seen on Amazon, and as a reader help sometimes if on the fence whether to one click or not, they are a personal opinion and whether rambling and nonsensical, eloquent with beauty or somewhere in between with a colourful vocabulary (just the odd fuck or two!) worth writing.
Freya Barker has fast become a favourite of mine and her first book Slim to None in the Cedar Tree series is one of my go to books to reread when I have a book hangover or I’m in a funk and nothing new is grabbing my attention, both the other two on that go to list are by Kristen Ashley (Lady Luck and Motorcycle Man). Both authors, for me, write the best Alpha male book boyfriends, strong and sexy with a side of protective and yet a vulnerability that draws you, the warmth and affection between couple, friends and family shines through and the cast of secondary characters is always outstanding. What I also love is that different series have different feels yet the core ingredients are the same, so I know chances are I will like anything new either one writes and the quality is consistent and high.
If you have read any of the Cedar Tree series then you already know that Ms Barker is happy to go where many authors fear to tread, real, disabilities, warts, issues and all the ugly of life, she does it incredibly well and you get the Happy Ever After but it doesn’t feel Disney unattainable, it’s real and in your grasp. Seamless, effortless, flawless writing. I wrote in a review for one of Ms Barker’s books and end up repeating it now every time because it’s just so true;
She dares to go where few authors will risk, writing older characters with health issues, disabilities, the reality and the fantasy seamlessly intertwined and breathtakingly beautiful.
With the Portland Me series Freya Barker has stepped up the ‘Real’, the issues dealt with are horrific, the type many people skirt around, don’t talk about, read about, or watch any media about, the shit in the world that people know happens but avoid because it makes them uncomfortable. The subtle sensitivity of Freya Barker’s writing means the emotional response hits with a visceral impact however never feels too much, too real. She tackles these subjects many will not and wraps them up in a romance that satisfies the sweet and the hot we love while bringing an awareness of horrors that happen. She has given us an absolutely beautiful raw series that celebrates the strength of the human spirit and our ability to overcome.
Sydney is lost, after a tragic event which would change and define anyone’s life she is homeless, jobless and adrift with no support system to help.
Gunnar is doing his best to be a single parent, run a business and deal with life’s day to day battles.
Their story is not an easy read, their path is difficult, full of drama and issues, the tragedy in Syd’s past has broken her and forgiveness is not easy but when I finished this story it was with respect for the human spirit, a belief in the power of second chances and I’m not even going to apologise for lowering the tone but a total lady boner for Gunnar. That man is magnificent!
Cruel Water is not an easy read, has some sensitive triggers and drew an extremely emotional response from me which is not easy, I can name on one hand the books I have shed a tear over in the last five years. There was one point in this story where I had to put it down, refused to press for the next page, lump in my throat and tears threatening, I knew what was waiting for me, knew the horror about to be confirmed and was so invested that I just couldn’t, for characters to be this alive, the story to have grabbed me so completely I am gutted, is special. Whether in book, song or film form the written word when wielded well is powerful, in content, in message, it can be thought provoking, raw, sometimes brutal, but also emotional, beautiful and in the same way that certain songs resonant with us, haunting, played time after time because something, be it the melody, lyrics, the voice, something hits us deep inside and demands a response Cruel Water is such a book. In much the same way that Hello by Adele, Clown by Emeli Sande, Thinking Out Loud by Ed Sheeran, Desperado by the Eagles, Somewhere Over The Rainbow by Israel Kamakawiwo’ole feed my soul and when in a funk I return to them on a frequent basis because they have the power to change my mood and perspective, Cruel Water does the same. Ike and Viv’s story is powerful, harsh, uplifting and emotional, it’s raw, unapologetic but subtly and sensitively handled. If only every Viv in this world could find her Ike and if only those who should protect, nurture and love us unconditionally always did.
Ruby is one of the strongest females it’s been my pleasure to read, her story will break your heart, to even contemplate the horror of what happens to her and the age at which her life becomes unravelled is shocking and traumatic. Flawed, real, ugly at times yet compelling and riveting Ruby’s story had me rooting for her HEA, for her to see the strength and beauty of her soul not the broken and battered person circumstances made her. Tim redeemed himself completely with his handling and support for her, after Cruel Water I had him down as a bit of a selfish douche, how wrong was I and I’m happy for that!
I have been very deliberately vague with specifics because all three of these books have such impact I don’t want to give spoilers, you can see the blurb, you can see the reviews and you will make a decision on whether to one click and buy, all I’ve tried to do – no doubt ineloquently and rambling as usual – is express my feelings and emotional response to them. As I’ve said already we all ignore the uncomfortable shit sometimes, things that happen in this fucked up world that we feel if we can’t influence or are not personally affected by, move along, nothing to see here, as you were but that solves nothing and is insulting to those going through these horrors, so Bravo to Ms Barker for taking on these stories, for handling them the way she does and for raising awareness, to say “yes shit happens but how we handle it is important”, for those who inflict it, for those supporting and loving the victims and for those it happens to with the courage to overcome, stand strong and be a victim no longer. Every story is this series is inspirational, shows just how strong the human spirit can be, how, if you are truly lucky and find your “PERSON”, then the sky is the limit for new starts and a life full of love, hope, possibilities and happiness. Isn’t that what we all search and hope for? That’s a life worth living.
Madre de Dios !!! (to quote our leading lady, Ruby) Freya Barker has done it again!!
From one of, in my humble opinion, the best series EVER…. Through Fire is a gut wrenching, heart-breaking story but as we’ve come to expect from Freya, it’s also filled with hope, strength, heat and a really strong sense of family…
Ms Barker writes REAL…. Her stories are full of very real issues: at times it’s hard going and upsetting, the tales aren’t pretty and the situations our main characters (the leading ladies in particular in the Portland, ME series) find themselves in are dark, scary, totally incomprehensible, horrendously shocking and unbelievably brutal, but they are also what we read/hear about in the news (sadly on a near regular basis it seems) – they are things that we know are happening in the world around us but that we cannot begin to understand as, in the main, most of us will fortunately never be thrust into these dark and horrendous situations.
Through her writing and storytelling Freya gives us an insight into the misery and devastation that her characters experience – but she also shows us just how strong people can be that they can survive these nightmares and not only come out the other side but do so with determination, strength of character and an overwhelming desire to LIVE.
For me, Ruby’s story is the darkest and hardest to read of the series to date but she is a fantastic character who, with the support of friends and ‘chosen family’ at the The Skipper, manages to overcome her demons and look towards a future that she never considered she’d ever have..
Tim is the leading man in Through Fire – we’ve met him previously in the series and I must admit that after some of his actions and attitude in Cruel Water (book #2) he wasn’t my favourite fella but I’m happy to admit that my feelings towards his character definitely changed whilst reading his and Ruby’s book.
Packed with suspense, intrigue, attraction, heat and passion and featuring the well loved characters that we have already met in the series to date, Through Fire is an exceptional read and another fantastic instalment in the Portland, ME series.
If you’ve already dipped your toe into the writing of Freya Barker this book will be a hit with you. For those who haven’t yet tried any of her books I recommend that you give them a chance – you will not be disappointed.