Rating: 5 stars out of 5
Eaten up with guilt, Ivan Black spends ten years hiding from the world. He retreats to his family forge to wallow in misery. Alone. So lonely his heart aches with it.
Wesley Cook and Rolland Spence have been together since university. They struggle through the physical scars of the accident, building a life in the ruins of their dreams. They find happiness but continue to miss their angry ginger Viking—Ivan.
In all the anger of wasted years, the three men find a way to forge a relationship as hot as the fires in the smithy.
I’ve long been a fan of the novels of Dahlia Donovan, but Forged in Fire may be her best story yet. It is a deeply moving love story between three men who lost each other and their chance at major careers in rugby directly after the university. Young men drove drunk and disastrously crashed, rolling the car, ending their triad through grievous injuries and the guilt one still carries to this day. That would be the driver Ivan.
All this we learn in bitter bits and pieces one wet, flooded night as the waters rise about the village of Boscastle and Ivan’s family’s forge high on the hill. It’s over a decade after the accident and “Ivan the Terrible” as his family calls him has fully retreated from life to his forge, shutting off all contact, including the two men who used to mean the most to him. He’s plagued by memory loss from brain damage, deep guilt, and a deep seated rage that is his legacy from his father, now in prison. His past not only haunts him but he fights it every second of the day. And it mostly wins and tears him down.
Ivan is a savage portraiture of a man. Driven by his demons yet Donovan continues to make us understand him as she reveals more and more of his past and his struggles to get by them. They include his father who we meet in prison and who Ivan is named after.
But the heart and soul of this story is the dynamics, return of love and relationship of the triad. Born in the rising flood waters in Boscastle, it’s painful, so slow its like slogging through the rising tide, full of anger, resentment, pain, and loss. They have a decade of issues to work through…even abandonment. Incredibly, the author also manages to bring in laughter, giggles, light touches, and some incredibly sexy scenes that show that the pull between all three men isn’t just some surface attraction. No, it’s cellular. These men need each other in order to be complete. Donovan makes us believe it absolutely. We feel it as much as the men do.
If Ivan is a complete character, so is Wesley Cook and Rolland “Rolly” Spence, who have been together as an existing couple since the accident. They have returned to get their third, Ivan, and bring him “home”. Each one of them, so clearly defined and beautifully written that its a joy to meet them and be included in their relationship. It’s fun to watch and listen to, the dialog shows the ease of a couple who has been together for years as does the sex between them. Loving, quick, and warmhearted. Yet still they yearn for Ivan, all prickles and anger who they’ve missed all this time. And he’s missed them as well.
The emotions here are huge, the growth, the pain, the fear the oozes off of Ivan as he faces his past, his father, his disabilities and even his future, it will scare even you. Bring tissues. For 130 pages, this is a big book.
I can’t begin to tell you all how much I love it and the men here. It will leave a lasting impact. One incredibly stupid decision and three lives changed forever. Now we how the aftermath turns out and lives change again.
I highly recommend this story. The writing is incredible, the descriptions vivid and carry such emotional heft, and the characters so real you believe in them and invest in them absolutely.
And for those of you who are wondering, no this is not connected to her Sin Bin series other than a brief mention of Taine Afoa. It’s completely standalone.
So yes, go pick it up, dive in and lose yourself in these men and their road back to each other.
Cover art: Claire Smith. I love this artist’s work and this cover is no different. It’s perfect for this story.
Kindle Edition, 130 pages
Published July 14th 2018 by Hot Tree Publishing
Forged in Flood is a British contemporary M/M/M romance. With heartache, hot men with foul mouths, and plenty of heat, enjoy getting to know Ivan, Wesley, and Roland.