4.5 impeccable Stars
I’d like to think that everyone has a phoenix moment. That we all have the chance to rise from the ashes as something new and gorgeous and vibrantly alive. But it’s a complicated thing, choosing to become a phoenix instead of just staying in the ashes, making due with whatever is left. Because when you’re surrounded by ashes, it’s so much less scary to just keep putting one foot in front of the other instead of choosing to be vulnerable to a whole new bonfire.
Althea Taylor is neck deep in ashes. After losing the love of her life in a tragic car accident, she’s spent the last five years wading through the aftermath, anything to just keep going. Firmly hung up with steel cables made of grief and regret and guilt that keep her suspended in time.
Griffen Tate has been carrying his ashes around with him for years. Through all of his adventures as an investigative journalist and a best-selling author, he’s kept his ashes close to his heart so he could always remind himself of what his father pummeled into him as a boy – that he’s worthless.
When serendipity brings Althea and Griffen together they both have to choose whether to continue to inhabit their ashes or take the leap and rise as phoenixes together.
Chloe T. Barlow takes a leap of her own in her debut novel by deciding early on to dive head first into the issues of grief and loss with heartbreaking honesty. She strips her characters down to their naked souls and then graces us with their transformation into fully fleshed, empowered human beings ready and willing to soar on their newly formed wings.
I found myself unable to wipe the smile from my face several times while reading this book – so thoroughly ensconced in the story that people around me were waiting for me to let them in on the joke. And just as quickly I would catch tears trailing down my face, so unabashedly immersed in Althea and Griffen’s story that I felt as though I was walking right beside them, sharing in their triumphs and frustrations.
The connection these two characters have is heart wrenching, sexy as hell and provides the updraft they need to take to the air. But in the moments when that current ebbs, the supporting cast that surrounds them both in this story is more than enough to give them the boost they need to keep going.
And lest you think this is just some sappy love story, rest your fears when I tell you that there is a good deal of intrigue, mystery and humor woven throughout as well.
This book took me by surprise as a perfectly well-rounded story that sucked me in immediately with the author’s honest and heartfelt writing and held me all the way through thanks to the fast pace, crazy hot sex scenes, masterfully crafted intrigue and thoroughly enjoyable characters.
A gratifying and extraordinary surprise, just like all phoenixes should.
*This review was originally published for Wicked Women Book Blog.*