As a fan of the earlier books by Alexis Alvarez I was prepared for a steamy love story. I was not prepared for the touching tale of Shai, Gabriel, and his son Michael in A Handful of Fire. Make no mistake; the story carries all of the heat and passion you’d expect from Alvarez. It also reveals the pain and passion of lives touched by tragedies.
Wealthy Gabriel Baystock is in search of a therapist for his son Michael. The ten-year old boy is recovering from childhood cancer. He is a brilliant child and is experiencing emotional problems. Shai Bonaventura is an award winning therapist in the Chicago area and is highly recommended to Gabriel. He hires her although he is skeptical since past therapists have been unsuccessful in helping Michael overcome his emotional issues.
Extremely articulate, the brilliant young boy is resistant to therapy and views therapists with disdain; an attitude similar to his father’s. But Shai is determined to reach the child. She soon discovers Gabriel is part of the problem. Aloof and involved in his business dealings, he spends little time with his son, strictly monitors his diet, and demands he follow the rules set out for him. In spite of Gabe’s uncertainty and Michael’s defiance, Shai pours all of her energy into connecting with both of them.
There is an immediate electric spark between Shai and Gabe which she struggles to ignore. Knowing it would be inappropriate and unethical to become romantically involved with her patient’s father she attempts to keep her distance from him. However, as she becomes more drawn into their lives her resolve crumbles. It isn’t helpful that Gabe is attracted to her as well. Although he is currently dating another woman his desire for Shai is undeniable.
There are additional characters in the book that I came to love and hate. Arielle, Gabe’s current girlfriend, has no desire to take on the role of mothering Michael. Of course, Michael is quite aware of her feelings and his dislike of her is evident. The Baystock’s housekeeper, Natalie, is a sweet matronly, woman who develops an affection for Shai when she sees the changes in Michael. Shai’s director is a strict employer who discourages Shai from becoming too personally involved with the Baystocks.
Anna, a fellow cancer survivor, and her mother Kelsie provide a sweet side story. In spite of Michael’s reluctance to interact with others, something about Anna seems to touch his heart. By revealing Michael’s more sensitive side, his character develops an added dimension. In addition, Kelsie is a friend for Shai and is someone to whom she feels comfortable revealing her attraction to Gabe.
This is more than just another hot romance. While Alvarez retains her trademark sexy love scenes, she has added a dimension of pain and compassion to this story. The characters are vibrant and believable’ their interactions spot on. The pacing is perfect and there is enough conflict to make the reader catch her breath.
I believe this is the author’s finest book to date. I highly recommend it to all lovers of erotic romance and inspiring love stories. I was provided an advance copy of this book for a fair and honest review.
Alexis Alvarez writes erotic fiction and contemporary romance with heat. Her books feature strong, intelligent sassy heroines and the men who earn their love.
You can find more about her work on her website http://www.graffitifiction.com, where she and her two real-life sisters – who are also romance writers – blog about their books.
In addition to being a romance author, Alexis is also a photographer and digital designer. She enjoys spending time with her family, traveling, and making really inappropriate jokes.