Story Rating: 4.25 stars
Audio Rating: 4.5 stars
Narrator: Greg Boudreaux
Length: 2 hours, 38 minutes
It has been three months since Agent Sean Delaney and Staff Sargent Alexei Dvorkin were kidnapped and tortured in the line of duty. Sean has made a lot of progress, but he is still nowhere near recovered from the ordeal. He holds himself responsible for much of the abuse Alexei suffered, and even though Alexei has assured Sean it is not his fault, Sean just can’t fully believe it. The men are still living together, but there is both an emotional and physical distance between them. Alexei is doing all he can to support Sean, but he doesn’t know how to reach him. For his part, Sean misses the closeness with Alexei, and there is part of him that wants nothing more than to reach for his lover, but the emotional scars are holding him back.
When the men are cleared for active duty, they are assigned an undercover mission together. The two head for London and team up with Liam to infiltrate a party and recover some data the host has hidden in his panic room. It’s the perfect job for Sean’s abilities, but when an old enemy appears, the mission threatens to fall apart. But working together, Sean and Alexei manage to retrieve the data, and in the process, they may just manage to find their way back to each other.
Out of the Ashes is the first story in a set of novellas called the Metahuman Files: Classified series. They are short side stories set within the timeline of the main Metahuman Files series. Even though they are set slightly apart from the overarching plot of the main series, these books are still very much connected to Metahuman Files and should be read as part of that series. This story is set between In the Blood and In the Requium and is ideally read in order (as they were originally released). However, I am coming back to them now as Turner released the three novellas in audio after the full novels were released, so I am a little out of order.
This story is a great follow up to the events of In the Blood, as we see there the horrific torture the men suffer and this gives a little wrap up that focuses on their recovery and next steps. I could really feel for both of these men as they are dealing with their own traumas, as well as the emotional pain of watching their lover struggling as well. Alexei will do anything for Sean and wait however long it takes, but it is hard for him that Sean is keeping him at such a distance. And Sean is still traumatized by knowing that his failures could have led to more pain for Alexei and he can’t move past the guilt, even though he is longing to be with Alexei. The mission isn’t necessarily the magic solution to their problems, but working together and having that bond reinforced as they handle the mission goes a long way to helping the men move forward on the personal side as well. This is a short story, so the mission isn’t particularly detailed, but there is some nice suspense and excitement, plus a really happy ending for Sean and Alexei.
The audio here is once again handled deftly by the fabulous Greg Boudreaux. I have listened to many books by this narrator, but this series is the one that really stands out the most for me as intrinsically tied with his narration. As always, Boudreaux handles both the high intensity and the softer moments well. The character voices are solid and consistent with the other books, and the accents feel strong. I am really glad Turner chose to put these shorter stories in audio because I love continuing to experience this series through Boudreaux’s work.
If you are a fan of the Metahuman Files series, definitely be sure to pick up this side story. It does a nice job of further developing a key part of the story and Alexei and Sean’s recovery. The full series is out in audio now, so this is a great time to grab it.