Rating: 4.5 stars
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Henri Serre has been dumped by his boyfriend after a year of living together. Not only was Preston cheating on him, but it turns out he may have given Henri herpes as well. Though he is negative on his first test, Henri won’t know for sure if he has contracted herpes for another few weeks. In the meantime, he is crashing on a friend’s couch and certain he isn’t interested in another relationship for a long time. He seems to always pick guys who are jerks and Henri figures he is better on his own for a while.
Logan MacDonald has had a recent break up too, but for him it was with his longtime girlfriend. Logan grew up in Texas and suspected he was gay, but pushed those feelings down to try to make it work with Soleil. While Logan has finally accepted his sexuality and broken things off with Soleil, he still hasn’t worked up the nerve to try to meet a guy yet. When Logan takes a chance by asking out fellow firefighter Tomas, he learns the man has a boyfriend. But Tomas does invite Logan along for a camping weekend to meet some other gay guys.
When Henri first meets Logan, he is initially put off by the big, blond Texan. Logan is sort of puppy dog sweet and the jaded Henri isn’t so interested in dealing with him. But when the guys end up not only driving up together, but also sharing a tent, slowly the two begin to connect. It is clear Logan is interested, but Henri is wary of getting sexually involved while the threat of herpes is still hangs over his head. Neither Logan nor Henri is looking for a relationship after both getting over bad breakups. But the more time the men spend together, the more they realize that the guy they are looking for is right there in front of them.
Oh, I really liked this one. I loved the sort of “road trip” vibe that comes from these guys stuck together in the car and then in their little tent on the camping trip. Although they are not traveling, they have a similar forced closeness that makes everything more intense and really connects them over a short period of time.
Henri and Logan are an interesting pair. Henri is the more experienced of the two. He is hip and more urban and gives off an air of confidence and coolness. Underneath though he is pretty vulnerable, still very hurt after his break up with Preston. I like that we see him early on with Preston and get his POV so that when we see him being gruff with Logan later we know he is actually a good guy. I am still not sure I totally understood where Henri’s initial dislike of Logan was coming from, nor what really caused it to go away. So I think that could have used some more development. But I liked Henri enough that it didn’t bother me much.
Logan is the more innocent of the two, having up until now only dated or been sexually involved with his ex-girlfriend. While Logan isn’t virginal, he is definitely inexperienced with men, so we get to see his excitement as he gets to try out all the stuff of his fantasies. Logan is just a total sweetheart, good and kind and decent. But I like how he has a little bit of a wicked edge and can hold his own with Henri when he needs to. They make a nice, opposites attract kind of couple and I found them sweet and sexy together.
The issue with Henri being exposed to herpes added a nice twist the story. First off, it makes for some interesting sexy times as the guys have to work through how to get together without putting Logan at potential risk. But it also gives us some good insight into both these characters. We can see Henri’s vulnerability as he faces the fact that not only did Preston cheat on him and treat him badly, but also that he may have left him with a life long STI. We also can see Logan’s strength, as he immediately figures out what the risks are and moves forward with Henri. He is safe, but he also doesn’t let the problem keep him from being with Henri. So it is a nice plot element that really lets us see more about both of these characters.
After the Rain is the second book in Harris’ Fire and Rain series, following the excellent From the Ashes. The stories are only very loosely linked, however. Logan works as a firefighter with Tomas from the first book, and Tomas and Jesse are on the camping trip too. But other that that, the books are very distinct and you could easily read this one without having read the first. I am excited to see that Harris has more planned for this series (and I’d LOVE a story with Gray and Rain!).
So overall I found this one a really great story. It is sexy and romantic and also sweet. We get to see the more jaded guy won over by the big softie. The setting was fun and the health risk twist added some nice dynamics. So I definitely enjoyed the one and would recommend it.
Cover Review: OMG, can we talk about this cover? *fans self* I can hardly get over how gorgeous it is. And it looks so beautiful as a companion to the first book. Cover artist Kanaxa has really outdone herself here. I wish the model was a little lighter since Logan is blond, but it is still gorgeous.