Title: Nothing But Smoke by Daisy Harris
Fire and Rain Series Book Three
Publisher: Samhain Publishing, Ltd
Genre: Contemporary, M/M, Romance
Book Rating: B+
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Author
Sometimes good boys do bad things.
Fire and Rain, Book 3
Michael Larson considers himself one of the good guys. He recycles, eats mostly vegan, and volunteers. But one night, while on a jog through a Seattle park, he encounters a sexy man on a motorcycle he wants to be bad with.
Firefighter Nicky O’Brian barely has time to even think about a sex life. Between his job and caring for his critically ill mother, his only pleasures involve a few racy videos and occasional nighttime forays to find men willing to help him forget his troubles.
It was supposed to be a one-time, anonymous hookup—until fate intervenes and their mutual attraction blossoms into a furtive affair. Michael doesn’t date closeted guys, but for the haunted, lonely Nicky he makes an exception.
When Nicky’s mother takes a turn for the worse, Michael is forced to make a choice between idealism and compassion. And as Nicky’s needs spiral out of control, Michael realizes that a new set of ideals could be exactly what he needs to keep love in his life—for good.
Product Warnings: Contains sex in the trees, sex in parked cars, and sex in other uncomfortable places. Tissues are required, because the ending will make you cry—and maybe make you want to call your Mom.
Nothing But Smoke is my favorite installment of Daisy Harris’s marvelous Fire and Rain series. The main characters are wonderful and the sex scenes are sinfully steamy. But it is the emotional depth of the story that makes it such a standout read and I loved every minute of this terrific novel.
Michael Larson knows the heartache of dating a man in the closet, and although his encounters with Nicky O’Brian are sizzling hot, he is reluctant to become involved with the sexy firefighter. But after their anonymous hookups become a regular occurrence and Nicky needs a friend after his mother’s health worsens, their friendship enters into romantic territory.
Once again, Ms. Harris’s fantastic pairing of two completely opposite protagonists adds tension to the story and proves to be a learning experience for Michael as he begins to understand some of Nicky’s reasons for keeping his sexuality hidden. Michael has always his mother’s unconditional support so his sexuality has never been an issue. His painful experience with a closeted man leaves him very distrustful of entering into a relationship with Nicky but he cannot ignore his growing feelings for him.
Nicky has always been attracted to men and although he has experienced a few fumbling encounters with men, he has never admitted he is gay. Unsure of the reaction he would get from his ultra-religious mother, he has avoided any type of romantic entanglements so dating Michael is completely new territory.
Just as Nicky begins to realize he is ready to explore his sexuality, his is faced with his mother’s health crisis. He turns to Michael for support, and while Michael wants to help Nicky, he is also very conflicted about Nicky’s need to keep their real relationship hidden from his ill mother. The situation between them is incredibly tense, but once they finally clear the air, they arrive at a compromise that addresses both men’s needs.
The sex scenes between Nicky and Michael are deliciously sexy but Nicky’s inexperience gives them an unexpected air of innocence. Nicky’s attempt to figure out the next step in their lovemaking is endearing and leads to some of the funniest moments in the novel.
The story arc with Nicky’s mother is very poignant and a little heartbreaking. It highlights how deeply both men care for their mothers and my heart ached for everything Nicky was going through. Michael is often exasperated with his kooky, non-traditional mother but by the end of the novel, he gains a new appreciation for her.
Nothing But Smoke is a sweet, sexy and incredibly moving addition to the Fire and Rain series. The characters are three-dimensional and multi-faceted with easy to relate to flaws and imperfections. The conflict between Michael and Nicky is realistic and they resolve their issues with very little angst. Another beautiful and heartwarming romance from Daisy Harris that I highly recommend to fans of m/m romances.