Read Beyond the Surface by Felice Stevens Online


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 designerOn 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....

Title : Beyond the Surface
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 26065703
Format Type : Kindle Edition
Number of Pages : 249 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Beyond the Surface Reviews

  • Gigi
    2019-05-23 09:51

    Firefighters and hurl/healing/comfort? Sign me up!Nick Fletcher and Julian Cornell were once lovers, long ago in high school. They were experimenting with each other and what is was like being gay and were in love. But Nick comes from a long line a macho firefighters and tried to pretend he wasn't gay. When he broke things off with Julian, it broke both of their hearts but neither looked back.Fast forward almost two decades and Julian is a new, very successful man. He is a popular clothing designer on the fast track to making the big time. He doesn't have time for relationships, but eases his loneliness by having sex with young, hot male models. He is happy and content. He has great friends, a thriving business and no-strings sex whenever he wants.Nick has since become a firefighter. He is haunted by the events of 9/11 where he lost many firefighting brothers and sisters. Being a probie at the time, he was ordered out of the towers just before they fell on his friends. He was badly wounded and burned and spent months and months in the hospital healing physically. He has been living a quiet, lonely, guilt-ridden life since then. He volunteers his time at a children's burn unit in an effort to ease his guilt and make a difference in these kid's lives. He is determined to give them a better life and recovery than he had. A chance meeting at a bar with Nick's sister and her girlfriend, who is Julian's assistant, sets these two in each others paths again. Things do not go well. There is still a lot of resentment from Julian over the fact that Nick broke his heart so many years ago. And by this time, Nick has given up on sex and relationships because he doesn't feel worthy and attractive.The first half of this book deals with how Julian and Nick meet again and how they handle their anger and then eventually a friendship over the children in the burn unit, where Julian has started to visit on a regular basis. There is no passionate connection from their early love affair. This was a bit of a let down for me. I usually prefer some amped up sexual tension/attraction during the anger and friendship stages, but these two just didn't have that spark of former lovers. And while Nick was this big, buff, beautiful hero in name and actions, he was so depressed that it was sad to read.But the second half? These two find finally realize that old spark is still there and start a hot and heavy sexual relationship once again. There were a few bumps to go over including the fact that Nick is still deeply, deeply in the closet with everyone and Julian refuses to go back in the closet for anyone.By the end, all is well and they get a fabulous HEA with each other and Julian's business that will make you want to jump for joy! Things may have started out rough, but these are two honest, generous men who see through all the crap and finally realizes that nothing is as important as being together and in love.I was going to give this one 5 stars, but the first half of the book was just too frustrating for a perfect score. But FIREFIGHTERS and Hurt/healing/comfort go quite a long way with me.Recommended. P.S. The Breakfast Club is a group of three gay men, Julian, bar owner Marcus and nerdy and sweet Zach. I'm pretty excited to see who gets the next book! This review has been crossed posted to Jessewave

  • Meep
    2019-05-20 06:50

    Struggled through this, it felt very high-school and clumsy. The dialogue was pretty bad; often a collection of speeches.9/11 was such a huge event, even with the time passed the horror feels fresh. It's not insensitively portrayed here, but it did feel a needless point of comparison. It could have been a fictional fire rather than drawing on emotions of a real event.Reunited lovers is hit/miss with me, after so many years people change and to be so in love after meeting someone you knew at sixteen...hmm.There's quite the criticism of fashion designers; Julian was made to seeing what a petty person he, then given the chance to prove his worth helping pretty little burn victims. Nick undergoes one therapy session and is cured of years of PTSD. While for all his claims of support Julian pushes and pushes at Nick to come out.Story would have had some impact if we'd seen Julian build his new show and interact with his new models, plenty of missed potential there for feels. Burns victims need fashion - well as long as they're young and have beautiful unmarred faces! Not sure what becomes of them if they happen to be old, fat, spotty or their face is burnt - which negates the feel good aspect to a gimmick.Side characters frustrated me. We're told Marcus is a slut every time his name is mentioned, sometimes more than once a page! And how sweet and shy Zach is. My attention span is not that....ooooh shiny!Then there's the compulsory homophobe and his awkwardly introduced issues, yes that originate with 9/11, and suddenly he picks now to jeopardise his livelihood with unsafe behaviour.But low and behold by the end everyone apologies and shakes hands under a sparkly rainbow, flowers bloom, birds sing. For my next trick - world peace!

  • Amanda
    2019-06-12 13:59

    5 'second chance M/M' starsSuch a heartwarming and meaningful read."We've been given a second chance. Some people never even get a first."Nick Fletcher is the closet gay firefighter.Julian Cornell is the stereotypical gay fashion designer.Julian was in love with Nick since they were sixteen, but due to Nick's inability to come out, they both separated from each other with bruised heartsDecades later, Nick's working as a trainer for new firefighter recruits and dealing with the survival guilt from the 9/11 incident. While Julian's career came crashing down after his unsuccessful runway show.When these two men meet again, Nick and Julian started to reevaluate what they really want in their life and finding happiness amidst the prejudice. "Is it normal to live a lie because you're too scared to tell the truth?"Most of the M/M romance tends to deal with closet gay, and Beyond the Surface is the same. Nick is the one having the hard time to acknowledge who he is and feeling sorry for surviving 9/11, while his comrades were sacrificed. He had always envied Julian's ability to held his head high and proud of his own sexuality.Julian had been enjoying his fabulous life in the fashion arena up until the day his reputation was in tattered. After being confronted by Nick of his vanity and meeting the burnt survivor, Julian found a new purpose for his fashion again and for a better cause. "Your entire focus is caught up in appearances and what others think of you. There are people out there who are hurting with real issue."What I love about Nick and Julian's relationship is that they both bring out the best in each other. Nick's journey to self-acceptance and his coming out to his family and colleagues is something to be admire. Also hats off to the author for acknowledging the burnt victim survivor. I wonder can Julian's idea works in real life.Not to forget, Julian's two fabulous bff, Marcus and Zach. Their routine breakfast-get-together reminds me of the ladies in Sex and the City. I simply adore both the manwhore Marcus and the introvert Zach. I'm sure Felice plans to write more about the guys later. Although the ending feels a bit too neat, I will enjoy it as it is. "I'd thrown myself into a world where no one looks beyond the surface. They live mediocre lives, content to judge people by the visual, rather than forging friendship based on true character."

  • Lelyana
    2019-06-04 07:42

    *** 5 SECOND CHANCE LOVE STARS !*** I'm not a believer of love at second chance, been there, and well, I had failed miserably.LOL.My bad luck I guess.But definitely loved the idea of love at second chance in my books, especially, this is written by one of my favorite author Felice Stevens.*NICK/FIREMAN HOTTIE**JULIAN/DESIGNER*Nick and Julian both were still 'kids' (both 16), in love, but Nick was scare about his sexuality, so he denied 'them', he denied that he was gay, and it hurt Julian and made him leaving.Long story short, 18 years later, the boys, not boys anymore, met and the spark (say, love?) was still there."Whatever it was, seeing Nick again had ignited something inside Julian that had been dead for years. He’d had many lovers, some he’d been fond of and, maybe if he’d allowed himself, he might have loved one of them. But no one had led him to that place where he might miss them when they were gone." I'm glad they're both not jumping into bed and declared their undying love right away after the first met. I liked the process to find what they're missing all this years."Dried leaves, picked up by the wind, swirled around their feet, coming to rest and lie strewn upon the sidewalk, like the little broken pieces of his heart, scattered along the ground." With all Nick's struggling about his sexuality and his traumatic past, mingled with Julian's problem in his world of fashion, the two lovers faced life hand in hand. "“We’ve been given a second chance. Some people never even get a first. Do you know how lucky we are?”" It was sweet, and low angst, but that's what I like in Felice's books, the sweetness not giving me diabetes. It was just a good portion. *wink* I loved Julian's best friends, Marcus and Zach (both has opposite personality), and I'm eager to read about them in the future.Glad that Felice in our earlier chat,told me that Zach story will be next. Just, loved Zach already, with his sweetness and shyness. It's better be this good or more even, Felice! I'm counting on you !Recommended read !ARC was given by Felice, because she knows I can't access KU right now. It was blessing in disguise, really. Thanks a bunch Felice!............... - Then - A new series ? Yeas yes yes!

  • Mirjana **DTR - Down to Read**
    2019-06-09 07:55

    ***3.5 Stars***I enjoyed this one, but sadly nothing really wowed me. As is expected, we get Felice Stevens' signature of sweet and steamy with a touching story and a saccharine induced happily every after, but with the exception of incorporating the events and emotions of 9/11, not much really stands out. Julian and Nick were endearing characters, but their transformations were a little too perfect for my tastes. Especially Nick. It just didn't ring true that he'd be able to change his perspective as quickly as he did on so many of the things he'd been struggling with.Overall, the story was heartwarming, even if predictable, and the characters were endearing, even if a little too perfect by the end. The author does a great job of setting up the rest of the series, and I'm definitely interested in seeing what's in store with Julian's breakfast buddies, Zach and Marcus.

  • Diana
    2019-06-14 06:36

    Actual rating 3 1/2 stars.

  • Debra
    2019-05-20 13:50

    Full review originally posted at Sinfully...Addicted to All Male Romance3.5 starsFirefighter Nick Fletcher is struggling with survivor’s guilt years after 9/11, a day that scarred him both physically and emotionally. He’s still an emotional mess even after years of therapy. On top of that he has a lot of guilt and self-loathing attached to the sexuality he refuses to acknowledge beyond furtive, anonymous hook ups and the way he treated the only man he ever loved. Living in an apartment attached to his parents’ home he moves through life on automatic pilot other than the times where he volunteers at the hospital’s burn unit, working with and comforting the kids and teens there.Julian Cornell lives his life proud of the man he is and is on the cusp of reaching his goal to be an internationally successful men’s fashion designer. When his latest showing goes horribly in a likely act of sabotage, he finds himself quickly struggling to maintain his business. The last thing he expects is the man who broke his heart twenty years ago to return. The one man he never got over and has compared all others to since.I’m a big fan of second chance at love stories where the MC’s were first together when they were young. It’s always interesting to see how they change from the teens them remember to the reality of the adults they are now. In this instance though, I had a very hard time warming up to Nick and that made the first part of the story a struggle for me. It’s hard to fault a character for actions they took at 16 years old, but as an adult almost twenty years later, Nick is still like a scared kid. He has no intention of coming out either at home or on the job and when he realized Julian was likely in the same bar he was, he was content to add to his guilt and let Julian slip away yet again without ever revealing himself. When they do meet up face to face again, Nick has no problem shaming Julian’s chosen career path and assuming he is a shallow, stuck up person in direct contradiction to the loving caring person he knew Julian to be all those years ago. As much as Nick can admit to himself that he always loved Julian and made a big mistake when they were kids, he can’t bring himself to do anything to change.Julian, on the other hand, I liked from the start. He is immediately sensitive to Nick’s issues and protective of him. He knows the man underneath the scars and has never stopped loving him. Regardless of how Nick’s actions when they were younger colored his future interactions with men, Julian easily admits that it will be hard to resist falling for him again, but begins to forge a new friendship with him. He worries about Nick’s state of mind and will do anything to help him, even as Nick continues to run hot and cold towards him, but he’s also going to try his best to keep from getting pulled in only to once again be left behind.Although Nick has a big supporter in his sister Katie, Julian is the one person that can get through to Nick and when he finally does, an emotional tidal wave is unleashed and Nick quickly begins to take back the life he put on hold so long ago. He throws himself into a sexual relationship with Julian and vows to work on coming out. It’s not easy with potential roadblocks that arise both personally and professionally in the form of bigotry and fear mostly stemming from Nick’s father and one particularly offensive co-worker.There is a lot of drama and issues that are raised and dealt with in the second part of the book, but the story does not get overly angsty. There were a few things about Nick’s emotional recovery that seemed to resolve themselves a bit quickly merely by having Julian present, but overall I liked seeing Nick finally embrace the man he was always meant to be. Julian also grows during the story and finds a new more rewarding purpose for his talents. Felice Stevens is a good storyteller and I understood and respected the lingering effects of Nick’s PTSD resulting from 9/11 and he did come through in big way in the end for Julian and a trainee firefighter who was having a difficult time, but my inability to otherwise connect with him until late in the story frustrated me enough to keep me from giving the book a higher rating.Julian has a great group of friends and Zach and Marcus, the two men who became his closest friends in college and make up the rest of the “breakfast club”, were standout characters. Unwaveringly honest, supportive and loyal, they help keep Julian together when everything seems to be falling apart and their scenes were fun and touching. The men have distinct personalities and I’m looking forward to both of their stories, especially that of the secretive, quiet Zach.

  • Trisha Harrington
    2019-06-08 08:49

    This book was everything I wanted it to be!It was on my tbr for a while, but I never got around to it. I was looking for a good hurt/comfort and then I saw this and it ticked all my boxes.I loved watching Julian and Nick reconnect after years apart. I was glad these two were able to work through their differences because I was rooting for them as a couple. They were hot together and also sweet at times.Marcus and Zach were great friends. And I can't wait to read their books. Zach's especially because he was such a likable character.

  • Jilrene ♥
    2019-06-12 10:42

    OTT and too good to be true resolution to issues. Just too easy. I think it's supposed to be a romance with angst, but it felt more like an after school special with a moral to the story. A fable! That's a better description. Could just be me.

  • Kade Boehme
    2019-05-29 12:53

    Felice can do no wrong for me. This was such a sweet, wonderful read.

  • Wendy
    2019-06-10 13:03

    This was a nice read, but for some reason it didn't wow me. Probably a case of " it's not the's me" 3,5 stars from me

  • Jessie G.
    2019-06-16 11:59

    4.5 out of 5 StarsI’m a huge fan of second chance stories. When life knocks you down, you either stay down or you pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and fight on. Easier said than done, easier still with a good support system behind you.Nick was just a rookie when 9/11 happened, but he couldn’t sit on the sidelines just because he didn’t have the experience. He barely survived, but so many others died. Years later, the survivor’s guilt is a weight he thinks he’ll never be rid of. He’s settled into something of a routine—training firefighters, living in his parents’ basement, and helping burn victims. It’s not great, but it’s getting him through…right up until the man he left behind reenters his life.Julian thought he’d reached the pinnacle of his career, only to have it ripped out from under him by the cheating competition. Now he’s got to rethink his plans for the future or risk losing everything he’d worked so hard to achieve. The last thing he needs is to run into Nick again, the man he’d loved once upon a time and the one who walked away.There was so much to love about these two. They may not have expected each other again, may still harbor the hurt from their round one, but the feelings are all still there if they are willing to take a chance. They fight Nick’s demons and along the way, Julian finds new purpose for his talents. A more rewarding purpose. With a gun-toting father, a group of well-meaning (interfering) friends, and love, Beyond the Surface was about as close to a perfect second chance love story as I’ve read in a while.

  • Keri
    2019-05-22 08:58

    Wow.... How do I click more than 5 stars? Absolutely freaking loved Nick and Julian!Do you believe in second chances? Well if you don't, you will after reading about Nick and Julian. Felice Stevens puts together a truly beautiful, heart-aching yet loving story together. Not only do you feel emotional about the men, she adds another emotional element of the 9/11 tragedy. You root for Nick to be able to heal from that tragedy and to move on to believing in himself that he is one of the heroes we all know they are. Besides, who doesn't love a sexy fireman, especially who is humble? The fates bring these two men back in the same orbit and now have a chance to rekindle their togetherness. Love is a powerful emotion and can heal the wounded. They find they are each other's strengths and conquer their demons together. The secondary characters are a hoot in and of themselves and just adds to this rich storyline. This was an amazing story and will definitely stay in my heart. It will be hard to wait but I look forward to reading their stories as they come.Kindly received an ARC from author for honest review.

  • Pjm12
    2019-06-11 14:47

    While I liked Julian and his friends together, some of the other interactions were just a bit too over the top for me. I wish I hadn't been told (over & over) what a man-whore Marcus is. And yet, I wanted to know more about Zach.I like that Julian and Nick save each other, I really do. I just struggle with how easy it all seemed. Nick's father changes his mind very quickly, as do other characters.Two and half stars rounded up.

  • Caipi
    2019-06-10 07:44

    A nice story, but nothing outstanding and in the last chapters everything went definitely too smooth. Nevertheless I'll read the next two books of the series, since I have them already on my kindle and I'm honestly a little bit curious about Zach's and especially Marcus's story. 3,5 stars

  • Book Junky Girls
    2019-06-06 14:46

    4.5 StarsNick and Julian went to high school together and learned who they were together, the difference between them though was that Julian was ok showing everyone around him who he was while Nick was terrified of what would happen and what everyone would think if the truth came out. At 16 it tore them apart and both moved on with their lives although neither forgot the other.Nearly 2 decades later their paths cross in the most unlikely places and it's time for them to finally find peace with what happened all those years ago. But if life gives you a second chance would you take it?Julian is who he is and won't let anyone talk down to him because of it. He is in you face and I loved how he stood up for himself. But there was a mask no one realized he was wearing and I enjoyed seeing as it came down throuhout the story.Nick. With his job he knew coming out would be difficult and with his family he was terrified of being shunned so he put himself deep into the closet and was sad and miserable there. Seeing Julian again showed him that he had a chance at happiness if only he took a chance. I loved seeing as he came into himself and the doubts he had about his family were unfounded and how it all gave him the courage to come out at work as well. During the entire novel he grew so much and while at the beginning I thought he was an idiot he learned how to accept himself and see that it was ok to be who he truely was.These two have their share of ups and downs, but hey that's what makes you really get into the story and with the way it is written you feel like you're really there with them as they go through their struggles and come out on top.There are some pieces of the story I truely loved like how 9/11 effected one of the characters even years later. It showed you how others in real life may be dealing with it. And then there were the burn victims..... Can I just say wow. They way it was all written makes me feel like the characters were real and I rooted for them to overcome their problems and become better because of it.Overall this is a great start to a new series and another great example of why I keep coming back and reading more and more novels by this author.

  • ⚣❣☙ Michaelle ❧❣⚣
    2019-06-10 14:37

    4.1 StarsOoof. This one packed a pretty emotional punch...and as much as I'd love all their stories told, I'm kind of glad that 9/11 isn't an overused plot device in MM Romance. I'm not sure I could handle too many of them, and I worry that the pain, loss & survival wouldn't be consistently told well...and I worry about exploitation of a what is considered a national tragedy.Thankfully, Felice does a great job with her character's story as it applies to that day. It's not meant to be a blanket explanation or representative of anything but this one man. And his pain isn't just about his actions, or survival...but combined with his negative self-esteem, his internalized homophobia. I really liked how Nick found himself.Surprisingly, even Julian's story appealed to me. At first I felt it was a little shallow given how we were presented with this other rich, deep story of a broken firefighter...and then it stopped being about fame, fortune and self-importance, when he stopped worrying about public perception & clearing his name. The story really came alive for me when Julian found new, more meaningful inspiration from wanting to use fashion in some way to boost the self-confidence of these young burn victims.Yes, the whole thing felt wrapped up too neatly (especially given the rival's "explanation" for stealing Julian's designs), and Nick seemed a little too forgiving of those that treated him (and the other, OUT gay firefighter) so badly. But, I can roll with that message; because forgiveness isn't for the person that wronged you...forgiveness is so that you can let it all go and move on.(I didn't much care for the narration, but it wasn't horrible. I honestly don't think it added or subtracted from my enjoyment of the book.)

  • Denise H.
    2019-05-31 13:59

    Amazing story by Felice Stevens. 9/11's devastation hurt more than just those who died. Lonely Nick is a firefighter and trapped under a beam, rescued and spent months recovering and in therapy for survivor's guilt. He still feels guilty to be alive. In their teens, Nick and Julian loved each other, but Nick ran. Equally lonely Julian is now a world famous menswear designer, who has had his latest fashions stolen, and his business ruined. He and Nick find each other, and sparks fly. Julian's still hurt that Nick left him, and Nick is still closeted. They kiss, talk, and begin healing their relationship. Nick visits the burn center, because he wants to help kids with burns know there is hope. After all, he survived his burns. Julian goes along to visit the teens, and gets a brilliant idea. His new venture is from the heart, not the fashion industry vanity. There is bullying at the firehouse to deal with, of course Nick must tell his family he's gay, if they want a relationship that includes the ones they love. So, a lot is happening, and through it all Nick finds in Julian what he's always wanted, Julian's love, acceptance, and understanding. The acceptance by family and firefighters is a bit harder to come by. Julian has never wanted anyone but Nick, so his dream may come true. These deep characters are terrific, in this tale with suspense, drama, and surprises. Well done super hot M/M sex, and an interesting plot make this worthwhile.Highly recommend. E N J O Y !!!========

  • Fani *loves angst*
    2019-06-02 09:52

    DNF at 85%After witnessing Nick's homophobic father, congratulating Julian for giving physical comfort to his son, only 30 mins after finding out that Nick was gay -and wanting to throw Julian outside the house for 'turning' his son gay- I was done with it. Besides, I was completely bored after the first 30% anyway.It started with some angst and drama, but it quickly moved into sugarland territory. Too sweet, too perfect, too flat. I couldn't care less about what happens next, but I'm sure Julian's career will thrive once more.

  • SheReadsALot
    2019-05-26 12:50

    Free on ARe 12/16-17 only

  • Tjarde
    2019-06-18 06:52


  • Ariana
    2019-05-23 13:35

    3,5 stars.I read this in one sitting which shows that it grabbed me enough to keep me going. Julian and Nick are nice characters, and the plot is fine, I really rooted for the fire fighter meets fashion designer. But...I can't help that there are a few things not ringing true for me.Nick has had year long issues, including survivor's guilt and being deeply closeted, not to mention his self-doubts and fears of coming out and living a 'normal' life. Yet, a few weeks with Julian and he declares himself 'healed' to his psychologist? And four months later the guy stands in front of his family, his work mates, and the media to declare his love and life story on a stage via a microphone? For me, it was too much, and too unrealistic. As was the all over sugar coated ending. Even Jensen came to apologize? And everyone loved and accepted them? Maybe this is me, but life isn't usually like that. I felt that Nick's issues were resolved too quickly and without any major hick-ups (well even Brian conceded to Nick's confession after a couple of glares of his wife)Another thing that bugged me were the long intersections of thought thrown into conversations. It took me out off the discourse and I had to go back a few times to reread what a person had actually said before I could continue. As for the actual words - some things the characters said felt more like lectures than things real people would say, particularly towards the end of the book.Please don't get me wrong - this is a nice enough book, but there is something about the way that Nick and Julian talk to each other which doesn't feel authentic, Maybe a touch stilted is the right description? Or it is because there is a lot of telling rather than showing?Still, this is a pleasant read, and I'm keen to find out about Zach in the next book.

  • Jaime
    2019-05-19 10:53

    ExcellentJulian & Nick's story is heart wrenching good! A second chance love story where these two decide after almost 20 years if what they gave up before is worth pursuing now..can they get past all the obstacles and get their HEA? I love Felice Stevens, her books are the type that connect with your soul, if your not laughing and crying in this book then something is wrong. This story calls to your emotions on the most basic level, the need to be lived that all humans crave & require for survival. This is not just a romance story, it is so much more and deals with multiple human emotions and needs. Grab this book and enjoy Julian & Nick's story as they find out if the second time around will be their forever. Meet the rest of the "Breakfast Club" Marcus & Zach who I am sure we will see again! 5 stars all the way! Excellent book and Excellent start of a new series!!Reviewed by J.Loves2Read from Alpha Book Club

  • Connie Cat
    2019-05-20 10:54

    DNF at 50%. Meh. Not for me. These MCs don't act like 36 year-old men, in my opinion. It feels like they are still stuck in high school. The drama feels a little manufactured. I didn't grow to care about either of them, or whether they end up together or not. I was basically forcing myself to continue. I know this book has great reviews but it didn't work for me.

  • Elizabeth
    2019-06-15 14:49

    I liked this book but it wasn't as great as a lot of the reviews I read. I liked the idea of reunited lovers but when they reunite in the book it felt awkward for me more than anything else. I don't know but I think the book would have benefited from more flashbacks of when they were together the first time. I know I would have been invested in the relationship if I could see more of the love they had before. I really liked it but i didn't love it. 3.75 stars.

  • Claire
    2019-05-27 06:56

    I like sweet stories. If well written they can even garner four stars from me (I am not the generous type giving away my five star ratings like candies at a kids party)BUT ...I need my stories to be somewhat realistic.Sweet and realistic is ok... right ?(Careful some spoilers ahead)So here I was, after the first two chapters each introduced one of the main characters, thinking that I was about to read a sweet if maybe cheesy second-chance romance. I already knew from the semi-caricatural introductions that it wouldn't be a top rater for me. You know when you get, on one side, the real nice guy but so deeply closeted that he is unable to admit who he really is, and on the other side, the supposedly bad guy who is really hurting so much inside ...and then that after not seeing each other for the past eighteen years, they bump into each other twice in two days ... OK so I set my expectations to "the author is going to take the easy way on the plot but the characters sound good enough".Now that was true till about the 50/60% mark. Because frankly, at that point "taking the easy way" was too nice to describe how I felt about the plot. The author kept resorting to black and white plot tropes. You know the good guys and the bad guys, no nuances : the whole firemen corp being homophobic (because obviously they are real men), the conservative blue collar neighborhood, the gay and oh-so-shallow fashion crowd ... that sort of generalization. But then the one gay fireman happens to be in training at the right time , the right place and with the right bully so that our closeted hero has to stand up, and pssshhhtt the whole homophobic firemen attitude disappears because the officer happens to conveniently have a gay brother and our hero is obviously such a nice guy ... *rolls eyes*See that really pi****d me off : the author kept conveniently pulling out unrealistic (but oh so tearful) explanations as to why the uglies were ugly and then they would all turn around and become nice guys. I am sure they will all be raising rainbow flags at the next gay pride ! ... and don't even start me on the father ...*rolls eyes*Honestly during the final chapters I was surprised not to see spontaneous rainbows popping out everywhere (nothing to do with LGBT colors) or unicorns appearing in the fire station or strutting down the catwalk. And where the hell were the fairies ?!Sweet and realistic is ok... right ?Oh and I am also not fond of plot inconsistencies, like Julian telling his friends that "What happened to Nick ... is his own personal history. One I'm not able or willing to talk about" when actually he already told Marcus. Or worse being inconsistent for pure drama-creation purposes (view spoiler)[ Julian agreeing to give Nick time to sort himself out and tell his parents and colleagues... and just the next day getting in his face because things don't go fast enough ... and then again one day later (hide spoiler)]Anyway, this was a fun buddy read with the girls of Turning Pages At Midnight.

  • Mandie Foxylutely
    2019-05-24 07:55

    *ARC provided by the author in exchange for an honest reviewThis is the first book in a new series The Breakfast Club which focuses on three friends Julian, Marcus and Zach who meet weekly for breakfast and catch up with each other. This book is Julian’s story.Nick and Julian were once teenage sweethearts but when Nick could not acknowledge he was gay he walked away from Julian. How could he be gay coming from a traditional family with a hard headed firefighter father? So leaving Julian broken hearted he went on with his life, so carefully planned out to follow in his father’s footsteps as a firefighter. But then 9/11 happened and the events of that day coupled with the guilt just left Nick in a state of perpetual stagnated life. The only highlight he finds is in his frequent visits to the burns unit, helping and supporting the young patients.Julian has always been comfortable in his own skin, he knows who he is and what he wants, and for a time that was Nick until he walked out of Julian’s life. He has never forgotten his first and only love but he has filled his life with his career as a fashion designer, travelling the World which brought him to having his own fashion line and show. But then due to devious dealings, his long awaited for chance in the limelight crashed and burned, along with his reputation. Whilst drowning in his despair he comes face to face with Nick again and the hurts of the past meet the hurts of the present.This was a wonderfully written story with an insightful lesson in second chances. I just love second chance romance and this pairing were a delight to see regain the closeness they once had. There is a lot of angst, guilt and sorrow to get through so it is not a light hearted read but definitely an engrossing read. The first part is Nick and Julian regaining their friendship which gradually built up to burst pent up emotions that culminated in the passion and love that had been held at bay for so long. The sexy times were oh so HOT!I loved the backstory of the young burns patients and how Nick and Julian work together to give both something to aim for to cast aside the guilt and disappointments in their lives. But at the same time they were building the foundations for their future together. It was also fabulous to see Julian get to clear his name and amend his reputation and Nick to feel free of his guilt and accept who he is.A poignant and heart-warming story of love lost, regained and the pain that it took to get there. This quote from the book definitely captures the theme of the story:-"We've been given a second chance. Some people never even get a first."Wonderful. Five amazing stars!

  • Avid Reader
    2019-05-27 14:36

    Beyond the Surface - Felice Stevens5 starsI was given this book for an honest review by Inked Rainbow Reads.I loved Julian's character. He was so vibrant, outgoing and even when his world was crumbling, he was always worrying about his friends - his family. Stevens did a great job at setting this story up. With the sneak peek the reader was given to understand their backstory, it helped to shape each of these men.Julian's friends were something else. I really hope that Zach gets his story. I actually wanted Barton and Zach to meet, as I thought their personalities fit pretty well. But, alas, they never did. I loved how they all stuck by each other - they were each other's family.Then you have Nick. I had a much harder time forgiving his character. Despite all of his good deeds, I believe that it was much of his own shyness, scared self consciousness that did both of them such a disservice. However, when you got to understand his family dynamic more, it became more understandable. Also, when you hear of his trauma, you also catch a glimpse of his pain in a much different setting. He has been hiding for so long and I really liked watching him develop himself.Finally, you have the piece that I felt allowed the story to really gel - the burn victims. They were the true heroes of this story. Their courage and trust in Julian and Nick was awesome. i also really liked how the 9/11 piece was a large part of the story, but did not dominate it. Yes, remembering those victims and Nick's history was a huge part of how he found himself not only alone but lonely. But, Julian's awesome character was able to take those past issues and help Nick in a most profound manner.These characters run the gauntlet of the emotional roller coaster. I laughed and cried, was upset and hurt all in one story. I really hope that these characters show up in more of the books, because I'm secretly hoping for more fireman hotness!

  • Jaime
    2019-06-05 14:46

    Beyond the SurfaceSeries: The Breakfast Club, Book 1Author: Felice StevensGenre: M/M Romance, Second ChanceJulian & Nick's story is heart wrenching good! A second chance love story where these two decide after almost 20 years if what they gave up before is worth pursuing now..can they get past all the obstacles and get their HEA? I love Felice Stevens, her books are the type that connect with your soul, if you're not laughing and crying in this book then something is wrong. This story calls to your emotions on the most basic level, the need to be lived that all humans crave & require for survival. This is not just a romance story, it is so much more and deals with multiple human emotions and needs. Grab this book and enjoy Julian & Nick's story as they find out if the second time around will be their forever. Meet the rest of the "Breakfast Club" Marcus & Zach who I am sure we will see again! 5 stars all the way! Excellent book and Excellent start of a new series!!Reviewed by J.Loves2Read from Alpha Book Club

  • Jessica
    2019-06-07 13:37

    Leather. Fucking. PANTS!!! Can we just start off with saying this book is crazy HOTTT!!! Pretty sure this is the hottest thing Miss Felice has written to date. Not to say there isn't an amazing story to go along with said hotness. Both these guys are dealing with a past, Nick more so than Julian. They help each other look into the future and dig out of the past that keeps wanting to pull them down and keep them down. The transformation of both of these men was beautiful to watch. There were moments I wanted to smack both of them and sometimes my kindle against the wall, but I refrained, kept going, and never wanted it to end. Cannot wait for the next two books in this series. I already want to snuggle Zach and bring on Manwhore Marcus!! And more Julian!! Because I seriously hardcore LOVE Julian!! Thank you thank you thank you for Nick and Julian!!! And THANK YOU for the leather pants!!!!