BREATH ON EMBERS – Anne Calhoun
Red Hot Holiday Anthology
Carina Press, eBook
Erotic Contemporary Romance
New York City, New York – Present Day
Thea Moretti is viewing Christmas with dread; not just a little dread, but the kind of sadness that takes over her whole body. It was just two years ago her husband was killed in an automobile accident, and since then the sadness and loss has pervaded her body. She moved to New York City and got a new job at a bank in the IT department, but her family only let her go if she promised to continue her counseling sessions. It was her counseling session on St. Patrick's Day that encouraged her to talk to a bunch of fire fighters at a bar on the way home. One muscular man with black hair and blue eyes grabs her attention, and when she approaches him, they end up at his apartment having sex. Since then, Thea and Lieutenant Ronan O'Rourke have had no-strings-attached sex; at least that's the way Thea sees it.
When Ronan finds out about Thea's husband's death on the night she comes over to give him pleasure, and not herself, he finally understands sex fills an empty place inside of her, and she thinks they have no connection other that. Along with her iPod and her ear buds, Thea feels it's the blare of the loudest of alternative music that drowns out the depressing thoughts in her mind. Ronan thinks maybe spending time with Thea away from the bed could lead to some kind of relationship between them and hesitantly starts to try getting to know her better. At times, he can see her eyes clear and noticing him, then all of a sudden her face is blank, and he knows she is somewhere else.
Anne Calhoun has written about the depression that occurs to Thea after the death of her husband. She knows everyone else thinks it should be getting better, but now perhaps Thea unconsciously revels in the black hole she's gotten herself into, almost having no contact with anyone as she works alone in a special room at the bank and doesn't date or have any friends in her new city. But sex, well, that also stops the deep pain for awhile. Ronan doesn't realize until he asks her to put up a tree with him for Christmas just how dispensable he is to her, but he doesn't believe it; he's pretty sure their beautiful sex is more than just a way to ease her pain.
The only other characters of note would be Tim, another fire fighter, and the ghost of Thea's husband. Ronan uses Tim to show Thea what they have is more than physical.
BREATH ON EMBERS is an intense yet thoughtful novel of a woman trying to reconnect to life after the death of her husband. Ronan accepts their love can be different from what Thea had with her husband, and together they can start their own story and break through the darkness. BREATH ON EMBERS is available in the Red Hot Holiday Anthology and also available for purchase separately.