Book Review – From Dust by Freya Barker

by Maryse on August 16, 2015 · 5 comments

in My Book Reviews

From Dust
Recommended to me by a few of our fellow readers, upon it’s release, and when I heard that it had a “Sweet Dreams” feel, I had to jump in! Sweet Dreams is one of my all time favorite books ever. When I love a book and I want to continue that “momentum”… that feel, I’m not looking for a copy. I’m looking for more in that writing style, theme, and emotion.

Kim: Hi Maryse! I am not normally one to reach out with recommendations and I am not sure what your process is for recommendations, but I have found an author that I really feel is a bit of an undiscovered gem and I wanted to reach out to you in case you would like to check out her work.

Her name is Freya Barker and her latest book From Dust just went live. It is her first standalone and it definitely had a firm grasp on my heart in more than a few places! It was a bit of an emotional roller coaster but I loved it and I know you enjoy books that just grab you with the feels too! Her characters in this book (and her previously published books in the Cedar Tree series) are all over-30 adults which can be refreshing to read about in terms of maturity level and the problems they face, but they also just come across as real if that makes sense (real flaws, emotions etc.) And she writes some great steamy moments too!!

I am probably doing a poor job communicating why I love them so much without going into a ton of detail, but I think you would enjoy her books based on some of your reviews. From Dust is a contemporary romance while the Cedar Tree series is more romantic suspense/ action.

Lena: Maryse, just read your post and couldn’t agree more with Kim! From Dust has a Sweet Dreams feel to it and is a major tearjerker! Loved it and it captivated me from page 2 to be precise! Lol

Maryse: Ohhh you are exciting me Lena!!

YAY ME!!! I was in! And it REALLY had me from the start. Amazing writing, amazing visual, amazing internal dialogue. I LOVED IT ALREADY! Yep! This one DID give me that initial oomph. I could certainly recognize a similar “Sweet Dreams” feel and storyline, from the start and all the way through.

Maryse: Wanna know what I’m reading? It was suggested a few times as awesome, and one reader even said it had a KA “Sweet Dreams” feel to it. So I sampled it, and sure enough… I had to one-click it. Very good so far, and I concur! She’s homeless and eating out of dumpsters behind restaurants, and a manager at a local resto-bar sees it… I’m enjoying the feel, the progression, being in her head… and I’m in! I’m still only in the first half though, but so far? It’s good!!

Lee: OMG M.. I saw this a few days ago and 1click and its been in the back of my mind ever since .. Now you are reading it.. Tell me to drop everything and read it too.. ;)

Jessica: Oooh Sweet Dreams feel? Must read.

MichelleS: Sweet Dreams feel? (like dangling candy in front of a toddler) - Oh – and I LOVE the author’s name!!! Freya? that’s just so cool and kick-@$$…

Lauren: I’m reading now, so far liking it!!

Maryse: Me too… has a good flow to it!

Karla: I’m reading it now I’m at 80% and loving it!! Found it on your blog!!!

Ruth: Thank u so much for recommendation. Just finished it. Loved it xx

Down on her luck heroine, living in a new town trying to start over. But OMG the struggle!

I guess I could panhandle and buy some food like I’ve seen a few others do, but something holds me back, no matter how hungry I get. Begging would not befit a Donner, or so my parents have hammered into me. Funny, that after all these years, that is still as deeply ingrained as guilt is for a good Catholic.

Eventually being offered a job at a local bar (by someone who’s “been there”, and has been watching her take food from the dumpster for weeks now),

Weird how once the thought of eating anything someone else had touched— let alone discarded— would have been enough to make me gag, but now, I’m just grateful; Grateful for the prospect of a full belly and with the chill still in the air, the option to save some for another day before it spoils.

“Please don’t.”

…making friends with those that have good hearts

“Look, I don’t know your history or how you got where you are today, but I’m generally a good judge of character— something honed by years of working in a pub, I guess. You seem like someone who doesn’t really belong on the streets…”

and enemies with those that don’t. And a little of both with a few other characters, here and there.

“But why? Why would she do that?”

“Jealousy would be my guess.”

Plus of course, falling for the bad-ass alpha male (the boss!) that rules the roost of whatever takes up most of her new life (often… that new job).

It has the bad past, that she’s running from, the difficult present while the heroine tries to find her purpose, again. Along with life lessons,

When did this happen? When did I become so estranged from a kind word or a soft touch?

..emotional growth and healing. Of course, we have the prerequisite bad guys that come back to haunt her, and a new batch of bad guys (different levels, of course) that wish she’d go back to where she came from. The good cops, the bad cops, the jealous potential girlfriends, the evil ex-wives and the discord amongst social classes. And through it all, the sweet children that just want love and stability, and don’t deserve to be caught in the middle.

NOTE!!! I’m going to analyze parts of this story and my connection to it, so skip this if you want to go in blind. Not that I spoil anything in particular but I do analyze the characters and story-line as a whole.

Despite the traumatic past and the mysterious reasons of her “perceived badness” as a human being, we come to realize, she’s pretty much… perfect in every way. All she needed was love and support to achieve her full potential.

I’m starting to believe Syd can make anything happen.

Lots of “real life” introspection in this one, as comes standard with this “bar owner/biker bad-ass/single adult woman” theme. While I wouldn’t consider this a “biker book’ it certainly had a bit of that MC brotherhood feel.

And yet, despite a solid-enough writing and story flow, and the seeming to have everything I usually love in this genre, this particular book struggled to keep my attention. At times a little over the top (a few random bad-guys that were meant to “plant” more bad-guy theories) but just… kind of fell apart with one big, easy reveal (and solution! Albeit an awesome, heartwarming solution).

Yet mostly? It was a little too “even-keeled” to keep me from putting it down. It was mostly just them… living. Dealing with drama, here and there (sure…. to be fair, in real life, this drama would have put me over the edge), but I just never felt THEM in my gut.

Plus, as awesome as the intro was, I think I wanted more of THAT… more struggle. More heartache and survival, even though she was barely surviving. More of that real-life turmoil, before being saved, and maybe even more of that, while being saved. It was just so HARD (and I connected so deeply with her) and then… it was just kind of… too… easy.

Lee:  M .. did you finish Dust ??

Maryse: almost! I’ll be done in a few hours.

Lee: but so far, so great?

Maryse: Good. Pretty solid, but not making me go crazy in terms of emotion or stress… I think I would have liked a little more time and resistance between the two main characters considering how he ‘saw” her at first… and maybe more friends first… or her seeing him date other women (considering they work in a bar). Just more emotional pull you know?

Lee: I’m 15% in and I think I can guess what you are talking about.. Thanks for the feedback  will stalk your review after I’m done…

Along with the fact that there really was no mystery, or excitement, or romance angst between the two main characters. A bit of “running instinct” and “baby-bird syndrome”. You know… a day or two of eyeing the weird new-girl (and questioning her story),

She must’ve been a knock out once, but the dark circles around those expressive eyes and the prominent cheekbones and sharp chin are evidence of a hard life. Damn. What has Viv dragged in now?

…another day or two (or maybe it was a week or two?) of helping her out and protecting/saving her and suddenly… they were in love.


I dunno. On paper…  it “had” everything to give me the feels, and to fulfill me, story-wise. I just didn’t feel it the way I needed to, to shout it from the rooftops. But the reviews are great, so maybe it was just me?

3.5 stars.


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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Jenna August 16, 2015 at 10:05 PM

I agree with you 100%. It was good, but it didn’t knock my socks off.

Spandana August 17, 2015 at 1:52 AM

It was meh. Sweet Dreams was off the charts good. This book just felt like a sob story period.

Christine August 17, 2015 at 7:50 AM

I just finished Hawthorne & Heathcliff . . . . amazing book. It’s a big freely book that is wonderfully written. I teared up several times. Has a Sweet Gumtree feel to it with a sprinkling of Elanor & Park. I highly recommend it.

Rosheen August 18, 2015 at 1:26 AM

Thanks for this recommendation of From Dust. I pollished this of in one sitting yesterday. Glad I gave it a try after your (you all) recommendation. Memorable and I’m still trying to work out my ‘take’ on the book and story but it was engaging and memorable, very deep in some areas and I did find it a little simplistic/nieve in a very few others but over all ok.

Maryse August 18, 2015 at 11:57 AM

Yay Rosheen! Thank you for coming back and letting me know…


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