5 Star Review: Through Fire (Portland, ME, #3) by Freya Barker

Monday, 18 July 2016
Through Fire (Portland, ME, #3)Through Fire by Freya Barker
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Once again a beautifully told story by Freya Barker which will tear you up inside as we meet another amazingly strong woman with a cruel and painful past.

This story is yet another difficult but rewarding read as we witness the pain and suffering Ruby has experienced over 30 years at the hands of traffickers. After witnessing the death of her parents at the age of 14, Ruby is taken to be “trained” and prepared for the prostitution rings run by gangs. From there her life ends as she knows it. No longer protected by her parents and her quietly lived life on a farm in Mexico long lost, she services men and in doing so becomes indoctrinated to the lifestyle. That is until she witnesses a murder and flees to the relating safety of Florence House and into Pam’s protection.

Now working at The Skipper, Ruby is still on the run and keen to avoid being found. With corruption within law enforcement, Ruby can't trust anyone with her secrets that is until she catches Tim’s eye. A friend of Ike’s, Tim initially doesn't notice Ruby and only sees her as a quiet and unsociable waitress. That soon changes though when Ruby is thrust into Dino’s kitchen and without any cooking skills flounders. In steps Tim to save the day and offers to teach her to cook and to “safely” cover for Dino.

Ruby soon warms to Tim’s easygoing personality. Despite his initial cool manner, she soon finds him comfortable to be around but with her past she I doesn't know how to act around him. This was really poignant and emotive to witness as a reader, and for Tim, as Ruby’s only life references to date are to pleasure men and as a result, she doesn't expect kindness in return. After a few misunderstandings, Ruby starts to slowly trust Tim and in doing so opens up to her friends at The Skipper. Pam knows some of her story and has worked with her to escape the torments of her past but it's not long before Ruby is recognised and her past raises its ugly head once again. This time, however, Ruby has strong support network around her and is able to face her demons in order to be once and for all free of her past.

In helping Ruby, her friends are also drawn in to save another child who is living the life Ruby was once tethered to. Knowing that she may be able to reach the child, in her fearful state, Ruby forms a bond with her and sets about ensuring her future is a positive one. I loved the connection Nina formed with Ruby and in the end with Tim as well. Despite the sadness, the story was a rewarding one and one with a powerful message.

All of the characters in the book were loveable and aside from the usual crowd at The Skipper, we get to spend time with Tim’s family as well who are perfectly written into this story. The sporting references, I'm ashamed to say, were lost on me and even now I'm still not sure what sport Tim and Mark were referring to but that aside, I really loved this book. I needed to translate some of the foreign terminology but that was minor and didn't detract from the story, it just added to the overall feel of the book. Dino is my favourite character in the series so far, which is unusual for someone with a relatively small part but I really would love to see him find his HEA. He has stood tall and supported all of the women so far and in opening up his heart has revealed a truly special person within.

Freya Barker is an exceptional writer and one that I would highly recommend if you haven't reached out to her books to date.

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