FROM DUST is a fantastic read…. it’s got it all, passion, tragedy, upset, a little mystery, added to romance, sexual attraction and a whole ton of heat and passion
When I was reading this unputdownable (yeah, I’ve gone there!!) book, one of my overriding thoughts was that we know day to day that tragic things hit ordinary people as happens in the story for Syd, but I’ve never ever considered the ripple effect it causes…. You think ‘that’s so sad’ but go on with your own life.
Freya’s writing made everything that happened feel so very real and raw. Jeez, how Syd ever managed to battle through all of the years she did I’ve no idea. My heart and head were all over the place while reading From Dust– so many emotions were brought to life through the story of Sydney’s life which was devastating, heartbreaking and tragic, but she is one helluva strong woman and, through the love, care and lack of judgement of those she meets at The Skipper, she rises like a pheonix from the flames and it’s wonderful to see that come through in the story.
Gunnar didn’t have the easiest of histories either, though his road wasn’t as bleak or as difficult as Sydney’s. He was a light in the darkness that she felt – though her initial impressions of him before actually meeting him weren’t quite the same! He cared and loved deeply, knew from the outset that Syd needed help and was determined to do his bit regardless of what else was going on in his own life!!
I adore the ‘family’ element Freya’s books have. We definitely don’t choose the ‘blood family’ we end up with (as Syd knows to her detriment) but the family we surround ourselves with is often more loving and supportive than those we are born to ever could be!!!!!
I love The Cedar Tree series that Freya writes and when I heard that she was writing a standalone I was excited to find out more about it. I have to admit that, of all her books to date, FROM DUST is my favourite and I hope that this fantastic book goes from being a standalone as there are a few characters that we meet in the book who I’m sure have a story of their own to tell!!!
Freya Barker has become one of my favourite authors in the short time that she has been writing and I can’t wait to see what she brings us next!!! ~ Tracy
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! ~ Rebecca
I’m sure we all have a ‘go to’ list of authors whose books we 1-c without even needing to read the blurb. The books that, while they may be emotional and heart-wrecking roller-coaster rides, they help lift us or bring us out of a book funk… Since I read her first ever book, Freya Barker has been way up there on my list of faves ‘go to’ authors!
I flove the Cedar Tree series that Freya also writes but have to admit that the Portland, ME series is fast becoming my out-and-out favourite!
Freya has a tremendous ability to bring her characters and their situations to life in a very realistic and believable way. She writes about likable people who you can feel a pull and connection to, who have multiple layers. They run a gamut of emotions and show and experience feelings and sensations that we can all, to varying degrees, relate to. Some have difficult pasts and histories that have cut deep, caused scars, pain and damage that they hide so well but that, on occasion, come back to haunt or taunt them.
We got an inkling from meeting Viv in ‘From Dust’ (book 1) that something dark and devastating had happened in her past and that behind the smile and lightness there lurked a pain and darkness that, under the wrong circumstances, could pull her under. I loved her and my heart broke for how she felt, what she had gone through and where she could end up without the support, love and care she so deserved.
Ike had experienced his share of pain, loss and guilt and was himself lost and adrift, in need of someone to lighten his life, anchor him and heal the pain he feels.
Our couple had, what was supposed to be, a blistering one night stand but, as is often the case with life, this turned out not to be the case and they were brought together again.
They were two broken people with shattered hearts who were perfect for each other and, if they could overcome their fears and doubts, they could become whole again.
Their story, especially Viv’s, was raw, devastating and heart shredding but so powerful, emotionally charged and captivating that you can’t help but be swept up in the tsunami of feelings and emotions that it evokes and hope like hell you survive the experience.
The inclusion of character we met in the previous book – the staff at The Skipper, Pam (Viv’s friend and therapist) along with Viv’s brothers, the various friends and bar patrons all add to the palpable sense of family, community and friendship that Freya builds in her books.
The attraction, heat, passion and sexual pull between our main characters is intense and the sex is off the charts hot. One of my favourite things about Freya’s storytelling is the very healthy injection of desire, sexual appetite and need that her characters display, regardless of the age ~ as in real life, just because they are no longer horny teenagers doesn’t mean they shouldn’t have active and fulfilling sex lives!! 😉
I absolutely adored ‘Cruel Water‘. It’s another fantastic installment in the series and I give it 5 much deserved stars! ~ Tracy
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. ~ Rebecca
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 thePortland, 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. ~ Tracy
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. ~ Rebecca
I remember the first book of Freya Barker’s that I read – I went in to it wondering if I’d like it, hoping that I would and worrying that, gods forbid I didn’t, how could I tell her, someone that I knew and really liked, that I just couldn’t take to it…. well, the worst never happened, the story was excellent and that concern turned out to be so far from an issue that I’d actually completely forgotten my worry until I was recently looking over some of my reviews of Ms Barker’s previous books..
Ok, I’ll stop digressing and actually move on to what I want to say….
Still Air was an absobloodylutely fantastic read – let’s face it, that’s pretty much a given when it comes to this series!! The one thing you can always be sure of with Freya’s writing is that it will pull on ALL of your emotions; it’s expressive, meaningful, sarcastic, so very true to life, real, hard-hitting and heartbreaking at times and, as is the case with this series especially, the story is at points raw, painful and occasionally fugly BUT is is also sweet, hopeful, uplifting, humorous and heart-warming, her characters shows the true beauty and importance of friends and family (of choice and not just of blood – hell, at times often in spite of blood!!) and that now and again we have to wade our way through the seemingly never-ending crap continually thrown our way to get to the HEA that, in our darker moments, seems just that little bit – or possibly too far – out of reach!!
I FLOVED Still Air (just in case you didn’t get that vibe already!!) What a way to end the series!
We saw a very different side to Pam than we had previously – where before she was the strong, resilient, confident woman this time, in her own story we found that Pam had so many layers, had dealt and was still dealing with so much heartache and she suffered from as many, if not more, feeling and insecurities that the people that she took care of and supported. Afraid to open herself to anyone because she didn’t feel deserving of love, care and a happy future, she kept everyone at arms length, especially Dino – until things happen and she can no longer avoid him!
Throughout the other books in the series, Dino has been the voice of reason, the strong one who could see and read more about people that they were comfortable with but lately he hasn’t had the easiest of times himself, between his wife and all of her issues, his responsibilities to his kids and his feelings of having let his kids down and everything that happens in this book, it doesn’t seem like he has time or should be looking for anything for himself…. until he gets close to Pam and they find out that they hit it off more than either of them expected.
If you haven’t checked out the Portland, ME series, or for that matter, any of Freya’s other books you are sorely missing out!!!!
I rate this fabulous read 5* – but if I could, I’d mark it way, way higher as five stars don’t truly tell how good this book is!!! ~ Tracy