Friday, September 25, 2015

Lost in the Fire by Draven St. James: #FiveStarReview #NewRelease #Excerpt @DravenStJames

Cover Artist: Dar Albert
 Lost in the Fire
(Firehouse Six, Book 5)
by Draven St. James

Length: 56,000 words
Genres: Gay (M/M). Contemporary, Erotica, Romance
Aaron Evans embodies every complication Wren Tucker knows he doesn’t need. The tempting go-go dancer refuses to leave him alone and his attempts to get into Wren’s bunker pants don’t stop at the club, even the walls of the Firehouse aren’t safe. Wren’s control is only so strong, and his desire for Aaron is turning into a clawing need that’s digging through the many reasons keeping Aaron at bay.

Aaron is two cold showers away from hypothermia if the hot fireman of his dreams won’t give in to the lust Aaron sees blazing in Wren’s eyes. The only issue is, Wren is a forever man, and Aaron doesn’t have that in him to give, not with so many secrets locked behind the glitter and gold of his beautiful world.

As Wren begins to cave to Aaron’s delicious demands, he gets a deeper view of the tarnished landscape Aaron exists in. A murky pit of drug addiction that’s slowly dragging Aaron under, and Wren is going to have to fight like hell to save Aaron from it, to even have a chance at a new beginning with the man who has brought him out of the shadows.
“I finally have you in my evil clutches,” Aaron mumbled. 

Wren held in a sigh and gazed into Aaron’s cinnamon-shaded eyes, surrounded by smudged eyeliner. Currently Aaron curled along the base of the toilet, his black, blue-tipped, four-inch-long hair tangled around his flushed face. Drunk. Aaron was beyond the level of tipsy and had entered the land of trashed. 

“Considering I carried you up the flight of stairs to get here and you can barely move, I don’t think I have anything to fear.” 

“Oh no, you’re not safe. Let me just…” Aaron tried to push his body off the floor and slipped, smacking his head with a crack on the tar-stained linoleum. Wren winced sympathetically. 

“Fuck.” Aaron reached for his head with a limp hand and whacked his face before his arm fell to the floor. 

“Yeah, I feel threatened.” Wren hunched next to Aaron, who still wore his club clothes, which consisted of silver boy shorts and knee-high leather boots. As a go-go dancer at the local gay bar, Aaron tended to be more undressed than dressed. The light of the dingy bathroom sparked each piece of glitter on Aaron’s body, making him shimmer like a fallen angel in the dull surroundings. “I need to check your head, and if you’re not going to sleep in here, I’m going to put you to bed.” 

A sensual smile curved Aaron’s lips. “Bed is nice. Come to bed with me, my big hot fireman.” 

An image of their bodies pressed together, skin slick with sweat, bedsheets tangling around their legs as they moved as one, caused Wren’s cock to swell. He bit back a curse. Now was not the time to entertain perverse thoughts. The poor guy was sick and hurting and not in his right mind, and the last thing he needed was sex. Hell, considering he’d just been puking his guts out, Wren really shouldn’t have been able to find anything sexy about him at all at the moment. But the mussed hair, the way one cheek was smooshed against the toilet rim, the complete ease with which Aaron let himself be vulnerable beneath him… Wren shook the thoughts away. Not the time, you asshole. And be honest. It’s never going to be the time. He reached over to feel behind Aaron’s head. The silky threads of Aaron’s hair flowed across his hand and through his fingers. Why had he let Simon talk him into driving Aaron home? 

“I don’t feel a bump. You must have a hard head.” 

“I have something that’s hard,” Aaron said in a husky, suggestive voice. 

Don’t look. Don’t look. Don’t look. Wren clenched his jaw and swept Aaron up off his feet, keeping his eyes glued to the man’s pixie face, with its full lips and adorable matching dimples. 

“You need to sleep,” Wren insisted, walking into the adjoining bedroom. To say the room was a mess was putting it mildly. Clothes were strewn everywhere. The drawers on the dresser along one wall were almost all open, with shirts and pants hanging half out. The bed was centrally located against the wall and unmade. A cheap metal lamp with no shade was covered by a sheer cloth and sat on a nightstand littered with pictures of Aaron with friends. Wren recognized a few of the guys from the fire station he worked at. 

“You know something that would help me sleep? Sex. Yes, that always works.” 

The warm brush of Aaron’s lips on the side of his neck nearly had him dropping Aaron as a shaft of desire tore into him. Wren couldn’t control the shudder that resulted. 

“No,” Wren rasped, then cleared his throat. “No,” he said more firmly, setting Aaron on the bed. 

Aaron propped himself on his elbows, giving Wren a lazy grin. “Aww…come on. I’m very flexible.” He waggled his eyebrows. 

A wave of heat crashed through Wren that centered at his groin. Swallowing past his suddenly parched throat, he tried to put on his sternest expression. “You’re too drunk to be propositioning anyone.” 

Aaron dropped back on the pillow with an exaggerated groan. “Oh, whatever. I didn’t drink anything. Scout’s honor.” 

“You were a Boy Scout?” Wren bit the inside of his cheek, pain to distract him from the task at hand of unzipping and removing Aaron’s boots. The lean lines of the man’s legs brought the visual of those limbs wrapping around Wren’s waist as he fucked Aaron against the wall. The taste of copper filled Wren’s mouth, and he jerked away, tossing the boots on the floor. With trembling hands he tugged the dark blue comforter over Aaron’s delicious, toned body. There was no way he’d undress Aaron completely. Aaron would have to sleep in the rest of his club gear, because at the moment Wren didn’t trust himself. 

“Sure was.” Aaron rubbed his face, smearing more of the eyeliner and doing a great job of emulating a raccoon. “Can’t say I was very good at it. Kept lighting things on fire I wasn’t supposed to and couldn’t construct a tent to save my life. I think if there had been a real survival situation, being used as a food source would be the best use of my skills.” 

Wren shook his head. That was Aaron. Rambling, even when shitfaced. “I’d have to see photo proof.” 

“Not even for you,” Aaron muttered. “Now take off your clothes.” With a wicked twinkle in his sexy-as-sin eyes, he kicked off his blanket. “Come on.” 

Wren took a deep breath, grasping for strength. He walked around the bed, jerking the blanket higher and tucking it around Aaron’s shoulders. “Persistent little thing,” Wren grumbled, struggling with his horny-as-fuck side. It’d been forever since he’d had sex, and Aaron, even in his current state, was too gorgeous for words. 

“One of these days, Wren Tucker…” Aaron turned to his side, pillowing his head with his bent arm. His eyes slid closed, and he murmured, “I’m going to get to you.” 

You already do. Wren crouched beside the bed. The first time Wren had seen him, Aaron had been dancing. The light from the club had touched on every toned dip and groove of Aaron’s body as it swiveled on the raised stage, his tight ass shaking with the beat of the music. All of that had been amazing, but it had been Aaron’s face that had captivated him—the free expression, like he was in another world. His full lips mouthing the lyrics, his head thrown back, and the locks of his black hair waving around his flushed face. 

In that moment of abandon, Aaron had met Wren’s gaze, a smile tugging at the corner of his sensual mouth. Aaron had continued the dance, but he hadn’t stopped focusing on Wren. Wren’s body had buzzed with intense need. Each pulsing beat of the music had throbbed in time with his hardened cock. When the song ended, he’d had every intention of approaching Aaron. For the first time in more than a year, his body had come alive, and he’d been determined to take advantage of it. 

Then, when Aaron set foot off the stage, he’d been surrounded by a mob of patrons who were holding out money with one hand and seeking to capture Aaron with the other. Aaron had touched, petted, and winked at the guys, and that had been enough to drive Wren from his spot at the bar to the door. The shirtless men in tight leather pants had a lot more to offer than he did in the fuck me against the bathroom wall department. That was for damn sure. He had no intention of painting on a pair of leather paints and stripping off his shirt to compete for one night with a man who obviously had his pick of a club full of panting volunteers. He’d been out of the game too long to jump into a pit of greedy men in the hopes of winning the rights to a casual hookup he’d probably just regret. 

Still, he couldn’t come up with a reason why Aaron had decided to cling to him at every chance after that night. 

He left Aaron’s bedroom and cringed at the mess that carried over to the rest of the apartment. He knew Aaron had two roommates, one a bartender at the club and the other a dancer. The place had couches with cushions so sunken they might as well be placed on the floor, the springs long since destroyed. The carpet was a combination of brown, dark yellow, and orange. Any stain would blend right in. The coffee table—he couldn’t exactly tell what it was beneath the pizza boxes, magazines, unopened mail, beer bottles, and random fast-food wrappers. The room reeked of pizza, stale beer, and oddly, vanilla air freshener, which he could see was plugged into one corner on the far wall. Trying but barely able to cut through the din. 

The end tables were plastic crates turned over, and the lights that sat on them were eyesores, with their multicolored polka-dot lamp shades and neon bases. With more than a little fear, he pushed through a swinging door into what he hoped was the kitchen and not the entrance to hell, because the living room might be purgatory’s waiting room. 

The kitchen wasn’t much better, but he advanced anyway, not bothering to check the cupboards for a glass. Instead he went straight for the dishwasher. Of course, it hadn’t been run. How much of the toxic wasteland of a mess was due to Aaron, and how much was his roommates? After washing a glass, he filled it with water and checked the refrigerator to see if Aaron would have any food to eat when he woke. Beer, something that might once have been Chinese food, cheese that was more green than not, and a half-filled expired jug of milk. His skin crawled with the desire to clean the space. He took comfort in the fact that the mess appeared to be cosmetic. He couldn’t see any fire hazards. 

After peering around the room, he searched for a pen so he could write Aaron a note before he left. Sticking out beneath a Cosmo magazine highlighting a quiz about how to please a man, he found one. 

He snagged it and returned to Aaron’s room. The man softly snored, no longer lying on his pillow but hugging it to his chest. 

Sitting on the edge of the bed, Wren set the pen on the nightstand and shook Aaron’s shoulder. “Aaron,” he said in a soft voice, not wanting to startle him. 

Aaron opened one eye and gazed at him. “Change your mind?” he rasped. 

Wren couldn’t stop the grin. “No. I want you to drink this water. You’re going to feel like shit in the morning, but this will help.” 

Aaron shoved up again. “I told you I’m not drunk.” His full lip came out in a pout, but he accepted the water and downed it. 

“Uh-huh.” Wren took the glass from him, noticing how small Aaron’s hand was compared to his. Even in height Wren towered over Aaron by at least a foot, and in weight by a good hundred pounds of muscle. 

“’M not,” Aaron mumbled and snuggled into his bed. “Is that why you won’t fuck me? You think I’m sloshed?” 

“One of the many reasons,” Wren replied and tucked Aaron in again. “Sleep.” 

“Not giving up,” Aaron whispered, even as his lashes brushed his cheeks in slumber. 

“I know.” Wren sighed. 

He scribbled out a note on the back of an old receipt he found on the floor, dictating for Aaron to drink more water and go buy some decent food. In order to ensure the man followed through, Wren got out his wallet and removed a twenty, setting it next to the note. 
5 of 5 stars
Although they only played a small part, I fell in love with Wren an Aaron in Driven by Fire. Aaron's bright spirit and Wren's quiet strength bled through the pages. I was thrilled beyond reason when I discovered that they would be the couple to get their happy ending next.

The thing about people, both real and imagined, is that first glances never tell the whole story. Hidden beneath their seemingly straightforward personalities is a lifetime of experiences, both good and bad. Aaron struggles with self confidence, he's lost his way and doesn't even know it. Wren is hiding, from his past, from his physical scars and the emotional trauma that caused them. They are coping in different ways, neither very successfully. Their mutual physical attraction draws them together, almost against their will, but the emotional connection they feel is complex and complicates things. As smoking hot as they are together in the bedroom, that's where things are easy. Their hearts and souls that crave each other. Wren needs Aaron's joy as much as Aaron needs Wren's steady affection. They complement each other, better together than they are apart if only they can find the courage to leave their pasts behind them.

St. James writing style carries an emotional impact that can't be denied. I was drawn to their story, unable to resist the pull to keep reading, keep learning, keep my own emotions at bay. To read Lost in the Fire is to lose yourself in the world she has created. I love how the series pulls the boys of Firehouse Six together over and over again. I loved knowing that even though I eventual had to reach "The End" it wasn't really goodbye, because they will be back as part of a larger story, the family that is Firehouse Six. 
Draven St. James is a born and raised Oregonian. She has traveled extensively in search of mischief and mayhem to fill her books. Her ventures have been quite successful in inspiring a wealth of stories. Of course at the end of the day, coffee within reach, laptop at the ready is where she finds her peace.

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