Title: Beyond The Surface
Author: Felice Stevens
Pages/Word Count: 229 Pages
At a Glance: Author Felice Stevens used a delicate hand when developing her story, and left us with a romance that was very much worth every moment spent reading it.
Reviewed By: Sammy
Blurb: On 9/11, firefighter Nick Fletcher’s world changed forever. He’s unable to rid himself of survivor’s guilt, made worse by the secret he hides from his family and co-workers. Nick’s life is centered around helping burn victims, until he is reunited with the man he’d once loved but pushed away. Now he has a second chance at a love he thought lost forever.
For fashion designer Julian Cornell, appearances mean everything. His love affairs are strictly casual, and the only thing he cares about is making his clothing line a success. A chance encounter with the man he loved long ago has Julian thinking for the first time in years there may be more to life than being seen at the best parties and what designer labels to wear.
When Julian’s world takes an unexpected turn, it’s Nick who helps him regain perspective on what matters most in life. Julian, in turn, helps Nick accept who he is and understand he isn’t responsible for tragedies he couldn’t prevent. Lost love found can be even sweeter the second time around and after all the years apart, both men learn to look beyond the surface to find the men they are inside.
Review: Two damaged men reach beyond their many years of separation to find that there may yet be a chance for them both to find love…with each other. One is a survivor of 9/11—a then rookie firefighter who obeyed an order until the last minute and found himself the only member of his squad to survive, albeit badly burned across his chest and scarred for life mentally. The other man has lived by his wits and his flair for fashion since his mother died, leaving him alone. Fighting for every scrap of fame he has earned, there is also something hollow in it all—something missing. Both look back to the past when they were in love with each other, one certain, the other frightened. A fashion designer who is fearlessly out and proud, a firefighter who is deeply closeted and horribly wounded, reunited. They will become incredibly strong and free when they finally tear down the walls that surround their hearts.
Felice Stevens’ Beyond the Surface is a tender love story that pairs two men who both have been masters at keeping the world at bay for so very long. The appeal of Julian and Nick is not their chosen professions or even their friends and family; rather, it is the way in which they slowly, fearfully emerge from behind the high, thick walls they have built around their emotions. Never allowing more than a one night stand for pleasure, both of these men are so incredibly needy, so lost and so desperate to be loved. While there were times when this novel got a bit too predictable and the language just a bit too flowery for me, one cannot deny the chemistry between these two main characters or their journey from the darkest of moments to the light of a life together.
Occasionally, I felt the continual reminders of Nick’s fears and Julian’s self-doubt were overplayed—it was at these times when I wished for more background on a few plot points that seemed shallow. For instance, I was truly mystified by Julian’s arch enemy, fellow designer Devon Chambers. Given what he did to Julian and his career, I wanted to hear a whole lot more about his backstory and their fleeting past relationship. Without that information, the level to which Chambers obviously hated Julian did not ring authentic. Also the swift capitulation by Nick’s father toward the last quarter of the novel seemed a bit forced to me, too soon and too easy. I felt that and the swift tie up at the ending of most every roadblock the two men had encountered did not do a good service to an otherwise carefully constructed story.
While Beyond The Surface may have had a few glitches, overall, one cannot deny the warm and tender love story that lay at the base of this novel. Author Felice Stevens used a delicate hand when developing her story, and left us with a romance that was very much worth every moment spent reading it.
You can buy Beyond The Surface here: