Out of the Ashes by Hailey Turner

This was a nice novella that delves deeper into Sean and Alexei's heads after the events of book 4. We knew what they were going through at the end of book 4 and where their heads were at, but this novella dug a little deeper and showed us the repercussions three months down the line, when Sean and Alexei are both back on active duty.

I loved that this story focused on Sean and Alexei without the interference or meddling of their teammates. The addition of Liam was welcome comic relief when things seemed to be getting too intense. Liam was a great balance to what Sean and Alexei were dealing with.

However, I did feel that the reason for Sean's turnaround wasn't explained. We know from the end of book 4 that he has trouble being intimate with Alexei and that he blames himself for what happened. Such is still the case at the beginning of Out of the Ashes, yet after their mission together once they're both back on active duty, things change for Sean and he's suddenly comfortable with Alexei again. Which is great, obviously, because we want these guys to have their HEA! But I didn't understand Sean's turnaround and felt it could've been better explained. I was left scratching my head wondering I'd missed for Sean to make a complete 180 like that.

Great novella, wonderful to see Sean and Alexei have the spotlight, and a great bridge between books 4 and 5.