amber allureRating: 5 stars
Buy Links: 
 Amazon | All Romance
Length: Novella

Love Me Back To Life by M.L. Rhodes redefines the idea of first love and takes us on a journey of redeeming and healing love.  Before I begin the synopsis and review I want to mention that there is a non-consensual rape and abuse theme that is discussed in the book. While the rape is glossed over with just a brief mention, the sexual abuse is clearly stated and is not for the faint of heart.  However, the subject matter is handled delicately and compassionately by this author and I hope that despite these thematic issues you will read this book for the beauty of the writing and the love story itself is so worth it.

From a young age, Phoenix Quinlan and Noah Blackburn were inseparable friends.  The two boys grew up confiding in one another and living nearly in the other’s back pocket.  However, as time passed it was Noah who began to realize that the feelings he had for Phoenix were far beyond just mere friends and, in his fear of being rejected by Phoenix, he began to withdraw.  At this same time, Noah’s father, a starving artist, who encouraged Noah to write the stories he loved so much, passed away, leaving Noah with his embittered mother and, shortly after, a new stepfather.

While Noah was grappling with his loss, Phoenix was growing increasingly more distant.  Living with a weak and fearful mother and a raging homophobic alcoholic father, Phoenix was also struggling with his feelings for Noah.  Unbeknownst to both boys, each would have decisions thrust upon them that would tear them apart and leave them as such for the next twelve years.  When they meet again, the key question is can either of them recover from the emotional scars they have both suffered in those passing years and rise from the ashes of their pain to love again?

This novel was in many ways breathtakingly beautiful and heart wrenching in its honesty.  Both men are broken and hurting.  Noah has lived under the false assumption that Phoenix was dead—gone forever.  The pain over the loss of his friend drives him to the brink of suicide and leaves him a shattered soul, blithely moving through life working at a job that others felt was right for him. His needs, his desires, were buried under sadness and despair.

Phoenix was in many ways a shattered soul, never staying any one place for long, restlessly moving through one night stand after another and never ever allowing anyone close enough to see the emotional scars he is carrying.  A brutal past has left him so deeply locked in fear and self-loathing that he can barely endure physical touch and unlike his namesake, he is surrounded by the ashes of a broken life.  Into this dark night, the two men are reconciled and for the first time in over a decade, light shines into their hearts and souls and leaves them breathless and shaken.

This novel blew me away—literally.  I was by starts and turns, in tears for these men and angry at the life they had been dealt.  M.L. Rhodes creates a place in this novel that is all about second chances and healing and she drags us through the dark into a place of hope.   Rather than turning this story into an unbelievable “instant healing” for these men, she allows them to speak of their therapies, their need for time and space to heal, and the sure knowledge that during their journey they do not want to be parted from each other ever again.  It is simply a lovely story of redemption.

I highly recommend Love Me Back To Life by M.L. Rhodes to you.


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