RC Boldt has written a sexy, poignant, thoughtful, and very moving romance featuring multifaceted characters and a compelling storyline. “Out of the Ashes” features Cristiano “Hendy” Hendrixson, who was mentioned in RC Boldt’s previous book, “Out of Love”. He’s an ex-POW who was held hostage and tortured in Afghanistan for over a year before he was rescued. His back is completely scarred but most the entire left-side of his face is the most noticeable. The most insidious, however, are his internal scars. Once he returns stateside, Hendy goes to Fernandina Beach, Florida to be with his friends, other former Special Forces buddies. The VA has ordered that he see a Chiropractor to attend to his physical injuries, Presley Cole. There’s an almost instant attraction and chemistry between Hendy and Presley. They have a mutual love of the TV show “Jeopardy” and since she has a fiancé they become close friends.
Hendy starts as a vulnerable, hopeless loner. Before his kidnapping Hendy was a handsome ladykiller; now his looks get reactions of horror and pity. The change of his looks hits him hard. Hendy’s story of captivity made international headlines and he dreads the inevitable questions. It seems every person on the street wants to him to retell the details; or they make rude comments. After he meets Presley her sense of humor and optimistic outlook draw out his fun and charming personality. Presley looks beyond his mutilations and sees Hendy the man not the disfigurement. Not only does Presley see a man she sees one she wants to climb like a Jungle Jim. Hendy appreciates her more than her own fiancé. She discovers her fiancé cheated on her for years and he asked her to marry him to get a promotion. Presley breaks her engagement and Hendy get’s his chance.
There is a lot of sweet and adorable wooing going on. Jeopardy dates and Hendy brings Presley salads almost everyday. Their relationship seems to exist in a perfect romantic little bubble. Between Hendy’s sense of humor, Presley’s quirkiness, and Hendy’s therapy dog Izzy, cuteness abounds. Presley and Hendy have incendiary sex which not only enhances their relationship but both of their self-confidences. In Hendy’s case his self-acceptance is only too a point. Presley and Hendy love each other. But Presley gets fed up and tells him that he can’t really love her until he loves himself. So Hendy takes off and leaves Fernandina Beach.
There are quite a few sub plots that also go on throughout the book. Hendy has a mysterious stalker. Presley’s ex-fiancé doesn’t go away quietly. There is a huge bombshell involving Hendy’s deceased father. And of course there are returning characters from “Out of Love”. Foster and Noelle are preparing to get married. The major concurrent storyline involves our favorite Southern Texas ex-SEAL with the honeyed southern drawl Kane. Hendy and Kane are roommates and Kane has a major crush on Lucia, the masseuse who shares Presley’s office. Lucia is seemingly immune to Kane’s charm and relentless pursuit, much to his dismay.
RC Boldt hits another homerun with “Out of the Ashes”. Hendy’s backstory is told via a series of news articles over a span of a year, or so. Although there’re many characters from “Out of Love” which I loved, “Out of the Ashes” is absolutely a stand-alone novel. Hendy and Presley are an adorable main couple. This, I feel, enhances the poignancy and gripping nature of the storyline. The storyline grabs you and the pace keeps you reading and you cannot stop. Every secondary character is gold. Both the hero and heroine undergo tremendous character growth. RC Boldt writes a fabulous tribute to every soldier who serves. For every POW who has endured. And for every hero who died for our freedom. This book is a must read.
I’m giving “Out of the Ashes” 5 Lightning Bolts and a Storm Warning.
This novel was provided to me and it was voluntarily read and reviewed without bias.