Book Title: Through Fire (Portland, ME, novel #3)
Author: Freya Barker
Genre: Contemporary Romance & Woman’s Lit
Release Date: July 19, 2016
Hosted by: Book Enthusiast Promotions
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.
They say that you can’t run away from your problems. Thing is, sometimes running is the only way to escape the problem.
Ruby Soto is running in order to live. Forced into a life of slavery, finding her way to freedom was only a small step in actually surviving. Luckily, she happened to land right where she needed to be to learn to trust and start building a real life. Tim, living his life with no commitments to love, enjoyed his simple life of work, family, and friends. He did not want or need any chaos in his life. But one day he looked up from the bar, and chaos was unexpectedly welcomed into his life.
Freya Barker writes a story of second chances at life, and true first chances at love. This isn’t the typical love story: Ruby isn’t the young, helpless girl; Tim isn’t the attractive but immature hero. They both have their pasts and their flaws, but the difficulties were handled better than the whiny angst that seems to be trending in books lately. While I do not usually enjoy a book that switches the POV, it was very appropriate in this book. There isn’t the normal excessive overlapping and repeating of what was just read, which I greatly appreciate. The ending is definitely HEA and can kind of be seen coming a few chapters prior to getting there, but it ties up nicely.
This is the first book I have read by Ms. Barker, and it was such a beautiful and compelling introduction to her work. TF is completely enthralling and held me in its grip from start to finish. It’s a story of hope, of redemption, of survival…it’s a story of love, of overcoming your circumstances, and building a life you deserve.
Although Through Fire is the 3rd book in Freya Barker‘s Portland ME series, it can be read as a standalone. I have not read the first 2, From Dust and Cruel Water, but didn’t feel like I was really missing out anything. I definitely want to go back and read them now, though- I want to get to know the rest of this cast of characters.
“The black paint is me, and the last thing I wanted to do was turn your white world grey.”
Ruby is such a strong character. She’s gone through so many unspeakable things in her life, things that a weaker person could never have survived. She’s understandably leery, and very cautious, about letting anyone get too close. But she has an amazing group of people surrounding her, and one incredible man willing to put it all out there for her, if only she’d take a chance. Tim is protective and caring, he’s fiercly loyal, and with Ruby so patient and kind.
There was so much depth to this story, so much emotion and heart, I was truly captivated by it. I love a book that makes me think, one that makes me appreciate the life I live.
“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.
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!