Review: Breath on Embers Anne Calhoun


Breath on Embers by Anne Calhoun
Erotic Contemporary Novella
December 3, 2012
Carina Press

Reviewed by Mandi

This book isn’t your standard, feel good holiday romance. Don’t misunderstand, there is a happy ever after, although I may have sniffled my way through it and it is very well done.

Thea Moretti has been grieving her husband for two years. Deeply grieving, where she has left her home state of Ohio, and moved to New York City. The city is a third character in this book. At some points Thea reflects she can get lost amongst the people, no one there knows she is grieving, so no pitying looks, or relatives and friends constantly urging her to move on. At other times the city hands her such stark loneliness. For as much as Thea has built up walls around herself, there is another person in this big city that is ever so slowly becoming her friend. And I use the word ‘friend’ hesitantly, because Thea doesn’t really want a friend. She wants sex, she wants to feel for those few minutes, and then she wants to go back to her lonely existence and let the depression overtake her yet again.

Firefighter Ronan O’Rourke met Thea a year before this book starts by chance on St. Patrick’s Day. As his good friend lamely threw out lines to her to grab her attention, it is Ronan standing next to him, that she sees. After quick sex in a bathroom, they meet each other every few weeks or so for just sex. Or at least that is all Thea wants. Ronan knows she is grieving her husband, but when they first meet, and she has only been grieving a year, he knows that is too soon for him to push for more. So he lets it just be sex.

But now it is mid December and coming up to the anniversary of his death again, and Thea is much more vulnerable this time of year. What I love about Ronan is that he never pushes her to move on, or pushes her to be happy, or pushes her to be someone she isn’t. All he does is pushes her to feel again. Whether those feelings come out as anger, laughter, sadness he doesn’t care. But he knows that her walking around as a shell of a woman is not healthy. Their sexual encounters in this book are quite intense. Ronan doesn’t let the opportunity of Thea feeling during sex slip away. And soon, Thea starts to realize, she needs him in her life. She is able to let go, accept the grief, and yet want to feel again. This book has erotic sex, yet it is serious and somber. It is a heavy book of sorts, one that really explores the depth of grief and finally being able to peek your head out of that dark cloud to see some sun. All of this is done in a novella length book really well.

I really love how the author intertwines erotic scenes in a book with such a serious tone. A really well done story and I can’t wait to read more of this author in the upcoming year.

Rating: B+

Note: This story is part of the Red Hot Holiday Anthology, but may be purchased separately.

Recent Reviews:
Happily Ever After – B
Delighted Reader – A-
Dear Author – A

Kindle l Nook l ARe l Carina Press


  1. says

    I didn’t like this one as well as her others. The heroine bothered me. I understood her grief and pain but at times she felt selfish to me. Maybe I just wasn’t in the right frame of mind when I read. I think I may try it again.

  2. says

    My first Calhoun book too! Loved it so much I immediately tried another (Versed in Desire via author suggestion on twitter). She’s so great at writing full characters and penning a satisfying short story/novella – not a whole lot of authors do it as well!

    I agree it was a bit heavy. But such a great holiday read! My favorite of the season!!

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