I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Sapphire Storm by C. Travis Rice, Christopher Rice
Published by Blue Box Press on March 7, 2023
Genres: Fiction / Romance / Contemporary, Fiction / Romance / LGBTQ+ / Gay
Format: ARC, eBook, Paperback
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Under his new pen name, C. Travis Rice, New York Times bestselling author Christopher Rice offers tales of passion, intrigue, and steamy romance between men. The third novel, SAPPHIRE STORM, once again transports you to a beautiful luxury resort on the sparkling Southern California coast where strong-willed heroes release the shame that blocks their hearts’ desires.
Ethan Blake has dedicated his life to satisfying other people’s appetites. At forty-three, he’s finally landed his dream job—head pastry chef at an exclusive resort. Now he’s got a jet-setting career that’s taken him to romantic locations all over the world. But years before, after his parents threw him out for being gay, Ethan supported himself in a manner he’d rather keep under the covers today.
Roman Walker is a twenty-five-year-old fitness celebrity awash in thirsty followers. But when he walks through the doors of Sapphire Cove, it’s not just to oversee the menu for his celebrity client’s wedding. Decades ago, Roman and Ethan crossed paths on a New York street corner during a terrible, life-changing moment that scarred them both. Now Roman’s back for revenge.
But when his plan goes wildly off the rails, Roman suddenly finds himself at the center of an even stranger and darker plot concocted by his most famous client. Well-versed in the ways of the wealthy and the entitled, Roman’s former target offers to be his strongest ally during a moment that might derail the young man’s newfound career. But the experienced older man’s offer also ignites an irresistible and forbidden attraction that threatens to consume them both, even as it exposes old secrets and incurs the wrath of the powerful and the famous.
I was blown away by the depth of this story, the characters’ backgrounds and the development of one of the MCs throughout this story. As always from this author; the storytelling was superb, the characters intriguing, and the story engrossing from start to finish. ~ Sharon – Simply Love Books
Every time I pick up a book by Christopher (C. Travis) Rice I know I’m in for a wild ride and Sapphire Storm did not disappoint. This book was filled with secrets, intrigue, blackmail, crazy Hollywood lifestyles of the rich and famous (or in this case semi-famous), and an age-gap romance with a big twist. I was blown away by the depth of this story, the characters’ backgrounds and the development of one of the MCs throughout this story. As always from this author; the storytelling was superb, the characters intriguing, and the story engrossing from start to finish.
Ethan is the new head pastry chef at the Sapphire Cove resort, his dream job after years traveling around and he’s happy to be in California and staying in one place. The resort is preparing for a huge celebrity wedding when he’s notified by his boss that the nutrition and diet expert of the soon to be wed couple needs to meet with him regarding the cake. Roman is a fitness instructor and internet influencer and apparently a nutrition and diet expert living in the home of the soon to be bride’s mother’s mansion. The meeting turns out not to be about cake at all, or maybe it is but not the kind Ethan was expecting. Finding out he has a connection to Roman not only recently but from years ago throws Ethan for a loop especially since he’s attracted to the much younger man, but he knows he must resist the temptation.
Ethan’s character was very complex and I loved the way his background was shown throughout this story. His life wasn’t easy, but he proved over and over again he was a survivor and intent on reaching his goal of becoming a pastry chef. While his biological family wasn’t supportive, throughout the years he relied on found family including his best friend Donnie, a once big time porn star and now the owner of the studio where he performed.
I’ll admit at first I wasn’t a fan of Roman, but I also realize that Mr. Rice carefully crafted his character for the reader to not like him at first, for us to be treated to watching this young man grow and change throughout this book. For him to realize his mistakes, atone for them, and want to be a better person. It was subtle, but that was the beauty of it because while Roman was working on becoming the person he wanted to be because of the kindness Ethan showed him even though Roman treated him badly at first, we see him realize that he is the one in charge of the type of person he becomes.
A bit of a slow burn with Ethan and Roman going from adversaries to friends and more with Ethan showing his maturity in the way he offered to help Roman despite everything that happened between them.
I loved the twists and turns in this story and there were many, but most of all I loved the fact that Mr. Rice shows that people make mistakes in their lives, choices they sometimes must make to survive, but those choices don’t define them for the rest of their lives. That redemption is possible, you can move past your past, forgive yourself, love yourself, and let others love you – a wonderful message to all.
Emotional, sweet, sexy, and smart; Sapphire Storm is a fantastic addition to this series and I cannot wait for the next installment. PS. I’m even more intrigued by Jonas after this book!
Fall in love today!
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Keep reading for a look inside Sapphire Storm!
“You first,” he finally said. “Why’d you quit escorting?”
“You,” Ethan answered softly, even as saying the word aloud made him feel like there
was a tremor deep inside his gut that might slowly but steadily send cracks running
through him from head to toe. “I quit because of you.”
Roman looked too stunned to speak.
“I quit because I couldn’t stop seeing your face on that street corner. But I was still
about fifteen grand short of what I needed to finish culinary school, so I flew back to
South Carolina and I confronted the parents who banished me like I had the plague
after I refused to renounce my sexuality for the benefit of their church friends. I told
them they could either write me a check for the difference or I could set up shop in their
backyard. I already had it on good authority that I’d have some pretty steady clients
among their church friends.”
Roman seemed stunned by the answer. When it was clear Ethan wasn’t going to say
more, he broke the silence. “What did your parents do?”
“They wrote me a check, and I was on my way.” It had been years since he’d told this
story to anyone, and he’d only ever told it twice. He wasn’t prepared for how hollowed
out and exhausted he’d feel once the words left him. Years since he’d ever had to see
anyone react the way Roman was reacting now, wincing and making sad eyes over the
heartless efficiency of the exchange. It was easier to keep your pain stuffed deep down
when you never had to see anyone else react to hearing it for the first time.
“Did you ever talk to them again?” Roman asked softly.
“I believe you said you’d answer my question when I answered yours.”
Roman sucked in a deep breath and stared down into his now empty glass. “She didn’t
mean it but…”
“It was about my mom. She said I should do it because my mom would want me to live
at my fullest potential, or whatever. And that’s when I realized I just…can’t be…”
“Can’t be what?”
Tears slipped down his face. “Homeless. Broke. Couch surfing. Again. Everything I saw
in her eyes when I told her I was quitting school, when I told her I was throwing
everything she’d given me down the drain.” He shot to his feet.
“Roman, sit. Please.”
“No. Look, this is what I have to do, okay? And I know you don’t approve, and I know
you think I’ll fuck it up or lose my mind or whatever, but I’ve got no choice, okay? And
I’m sorry if asking you to talk to me like this was inappropriate. But it’s my life, and I
have to make my own decisions.”
“I understand, but Roman—”
He was striding toward the door on his powerful legs.
When the entry door swung shut behind him, Ethan sprang from his feet, but by the time
he reached the parking lot, the Bentley’s taillights were shrinking into the dark.
He pulled out his phone.
I would never judge you.
He didn’t expect a response, but he was staring down at his phone, wondering if he’d
been too hard on the guy. And wondering simultaneously if he should have tried harder
to stop him.
A guy he’d dated in France a few years back had yelled at him during one of their many
fights that he needed to learn the difference between protecting someone and
suffocating them. Where did tonight fall on the scale?
You are not dating that young man, Ethan Blake. He was tempted to ignore the voice in
his head because it sounded like his late mother’s. Imperious and dismissive and cold.
But the only way to drown it out was to imagine taking Roman into his arms, holding him
there, protecting him.
Guiding him to the bed…
Finally, he added.
Let me know when you get home safe. And never feel like you can’t call me.
He snagged a Diet Coke in a to-go cup and hit the road.
He was almost home when his phone chimed with a new text
When he reached the driveway for his parking lot, he stopped, knowing he’d lose cell
service the second he descended under the building.
No matter what happens, your mother, wherever she is, is proud of you. Never
forget that. I can hear it in all the stories you tell about her.
Unlike mine, he thought. When his vision misted and he found himself blinking back
tears, he was shocked. He sat frozen behind the wheel before a neighbor’s headlights
swung into alignment with his car.
As he opened the door to his apartment, he saw he had another text from Roman.
You’re a good man, Ethan Blake.
Given their history, the words meant far more coming from Roman Walker than they
would anyone else.
He slept more peacefully than he thought he would. Until about three in the morning,
when he woke from a dream of Roman Walker snuggling into bed next to him,
whispering the words of his last text into his ear, their bodies entwined and grasping
beneath the covers.
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