Note: Out of the Ashes is a direct sequel in the Metahuman Files series and this review will contain spoilers for the previous book.
Three months after being tortured at the hands of an enemy, Sean Delaney is making progress. But he is still unable to touch his lover, Alexei Dvorkhin, without freezing up. Alexei is being patient, but there’s a part of Sean that feels like it’s all his fault. When Sean is cleared to go back on active duty, he’s hesitant but resolved. Alexei is cleared as well, and immediately they are sent on an undercover mission.
The mission is like many they’ve been on before, but the strain in their relationship brings a tension to the mission. When things go sideways, however, Sean and Alexei step up, and part of of their relationship is restored. In the aftermath, confessions are made, Sean takes a much needed step in his recovery, and Sean and Alexei reaffirm their love.
After the events of In The Blood, I was very glad to see this follow up novella focusing on Sean’s recovery and his and Alexei’s relationship. They were horribly tortured, and they’ve had to work through the aftermath. Healing takes time, and I love that Turner has given it the respect it deserves. Sean says it best when he thinks “Healing is never linear and never easy.” Even though Sean knows, intellectually, it wasn’t his fault, that doesn’t stop him from feeling that way and that causes him to second guess everything in regards to Alexei.
I loved Alexei’s patient understanding throughout the whole thing, and his support. That’s not to say he’s perfect of course. Tempers flair on occasion, and frustration wins sometimes. But the love between them is palpable, and it’s certain they’ll be able to work through it eventually.
The mission that Sean and Alexei are sent on is not unlike ones we’ve seen before in this series. It’s intense and heart pounding at points, and of course, our guys get the job done in the end. I think it was smart of the author to include a somewhat familiar scenario for these characters. It allowed them to do their jobs, but also work through some stumbling blocks for them. I loved that in the wake of coming home, Sean was able to let go some of his fear, to share some of it with Alexei, and that they were able to overcome a huge hurdle. Things are perfect yet, but they are getting there.
And one key thing happens at the end that will add to the stories going forward.
I love this series. I love the inventive, creative, solidly built world. I love the fully fleshed out characters and the deep, rich storylines. This book is integral to the series, and I cannot wait to see what happens next.