Title: Painting with Fire
Author: Lissa Kasey
Length: 173 Pages (kindle)
At a Glance: This story is just top notch from beginning to end.
Reviewed By: Sammy
Blurb: Charlie “Wood Chuck” Fox knows his best friend and fellow wildfire firefighter Jessie Row had a major family break up in her past. Charlie has adopted her into his heart and into his huge family and when Jessie gets word her mother has passed away, Charlie fears returning home is going to tear her up.
Bastian Hart’s choice of career as a doll painter has put him at odds with his family. He’s made a sanctuary for himself on the San Juan Island of Friday Harbor, an hour away from his family. He welcomes his aunt Jessie and her friend Charlie into his house as they all prepare for the upcoming funeral. Charlie and Bastian discover a spark of smoldering fire igniting between them, but Charlie is unwilling to push and Bastian hesitant to trust.
They will have to wade through pain, hate, and fear to find their future together.
Review: Painting with Fire is author Lissa Kasey’s latest release, and it is just beautiful. There are times when an author’s passion for their subject matter really shines, and this novel is a prime example of what happens when a story is created with great care and in-depth research. Along with intricate details, there is a slow burning relationship that develops over the course of the book, which allowed for the reader to become fully invested in the two main characters and their future together. Honestly, this author just continues to grow in her writing ability, and has honed her craft to the point where her stories just come alive on the page and carry you right into the center of the action.
In Painting with Fire, we are introduced to two career wildfire firefighters who travel to wherever they are needed to control conflagrations that threaten wildlife and human life alike. Always on call, Charlie and his best friend, Jessie, have been friends and roommates for a long time. While both have a past, it is Jessie who is the real survivor, having been molested by a brother and verbally abused by both parents for years as a child. Her family is dysfunctional, with a capitol D, and her sister went on to repeat the pattern of abuse by marrying a sex offender her second time around, and allowing him around her own children. One of those is Jessie’s nephew Bastian, who was also abused by his stepfather. Now Jessie’s mother has died and it is Bastian, a successful artist, who is paying for the funeral. Although her sister does not speak to her since Jessie turned in her lying, abusive second husband, Jessie is going to the funeral and Charlie has offered to go along for support.
Bastian is in his early twenties and rather reclusive, spending his time painting dolls. Before you roll your eyes, these are not just any dolls but delicate creations that, when done well, appear almost lifelike. They also fetch a huge price on the collector’s market. Bastian is most definitely successful, but his fragile appearance barely hides the damaged soul within. As so many abuse victims do, Bastian carries both crippling shame and guilt that have almost stunted his ability to relate to and draw close to people. And so, he leads a lonely existence, surrounded by acres of beautiful woodlands in his remote estate, spending time creating beautiful masterpieces and doing YouTube educational videos on the art of doll painting. When Jessie and Charlie come to stay with him during the funeral, Charlie is instantly drawn to the quiet young man, but his life as a firefighter does not allow for long-term lasting relationships, for, let’s face it, who wants to wait months for their lover to return from fighting fires clear across the country? Plus, Bastian is so intensely shy that the idea of opening up to anyone, much less pursuing another man, is far from a reality for him. So Charlie does what he does best—offers friendship—and that is the key to opening up Bastian’s world and letting Charlie slowly come in. Hopefully to stay.
This rather bare bones synopsis cannot do this gorgeous novel real justice. The slow and steady coming out for Bastian that reveals his real strengths and compassionate and caring side is just lovely to read. While Charlie seems almost too good to be true, he is rooted in realism and we are privy to his fears, his dreams and his growing love for Bastian. Interwoven throughout is the ongoing saga of a family that has been torn apart by abuse and neglect, and the way in which this author deals with those delicate subjects is clearly an act of real love and respect for anyone who has been unalterably changed due to their horrible past. And the icing on this cake is the incredible detail used in explaining and discussing the art of doll painting. Never overwhelming or bogged down by too much detail, I learned so much about this intricate craft. Honestly, this story is just top notch from beginning to end. There was intense action juxtaposed by peaceful, intimate moments where you could sense the healing of wounded spirits taking place. Jessie and Charlie’s relationship was a triumph of friendship and loyalty. They fully supported one another, both in the field and in private, and given their pasts, that was a huge thing for both of them. But it is really Bastian who triumphs in this story, learning to develop trust in another person that both opened up a whole new sexual world and an internal confidence that really allowed him to live life again.
Painting with Fire is a lush, poignant story that will draw you in immediately and hold you enthralled to the last page. It is a gorgeous victory of the spirit and a testament to survival, one that should not be missed. I highly recommend it to you.
You can buy Painting with Fire here: