Review: Burning Ashes by H. Lewis-Foster

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Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

Burning Ashes coverAustralian cricketer Nat Seddon is one of the world’s best bowlers. He is also gay and out to his team mates.  His life revolves around cricket, his sex life around casual hookups and friends with benefits.  Until he sees Scott Alverley, England’s promising new batsman.  On the last day of his team’s “Ashes” tour of England, Nat spies golden Scott Alverley across the field and is instantly smitten.  But the young man plays for his old “enemy” and Nat doesn’t even know if Scott is gay.

Scott Alverley is a son of privilege.  A true golden boy in coloring and heritage, all Scott has ever wanted is to  play cricket and be accepted for who he is.   Years of boarding school have taught Scott to keep his sexuality a carefully guarded secret until he meets Nat Seddon.  Nat is everything Scott has ever dreamed of but what is a young virgin to do when he meets the experienced man of his dreams?

Scott and Nat’s attraction to each other proves to  be something far deeper, a real love each man expects to last.  But Nat and Scott play for teams separated by more than an ocean.  Constantly pulled apart by schedules and geographical residences, Nat and Scott try to make the best of it all.  Until they can’t.  What will give in the tournament of love?  Who will be the victor and win the cup of Ashes?  Can they both come out on top in the contest for love?

You don’t have to be a fan of cricket or even knowledgeable about the game to enjoy the love story at the heart of Burning Ashes.  It’s a very sweet love story that has its foundation on the playing field of cricket and crosses continents in its tale of love and the pursuit of a relationship that will stretch over the years.  H. Lewis-Foster has created a very wholesome and mostly angst free tale of gay love on and off the cricket field, a game that Robin Williams describes as “baseball on valium”.  So its probably a good thing, especially for American readers, that an understanding of cricket and those that play it isn’t necessary in order to make sense of this story.  True that Scott and Nat are batsman but as long as you can relate to men whose lives revolve around a sport, both as players and as men who deeply love the game they are involved in, then that aspect of Burning Ashes becomes real.

I have to admit I still don’t understand the title even after having read the book anymore than I understand cricket.  I loved the author’s descriptions of England and Australia right down to the way the two cultures feel about the weather and the heat.  It seems all very authentic, including the affection Lewis-Foster feels for the two countries and their outlook on sports, which is a good thing considering the story will track over both continents as the men travel with their cricket teams to various matches and tournaments.

My only real issue with the story is not the game but the relationship that is built between Scott and Nat.  Considering the age of the men, the relationship and their almost courtly parade towards love comes across as almost Pollyanna in tone and mildness.  They meet, fall in love, separate, miss each other, come back together, make love and tell each other how much they missed each other.  It’s all very ordinary and sweet, everything you might expect in a tale of a first love that becomes a final one.  It never becomes cloying but it also never climbs above the middling sweetness either.  It takes a certain writer to  elevate a story that is kind, sweet, and even toned into a book that makes even the most  mundane of events dramatic and vivid in description.  This is not that author or book.

If all you are looking for in a story is a lovely, sweet romance of no real depth or angst, then Burning Ashes is the book for you.  It is a  nice way to spend the day.  But if you are looking for memorable characters, sweeping storylines, and a compelling romance, then this will disappoint in every way.  Consider this recommended with reservations.

Cover art by Leah Kaye Suttle.  It’s a lovely cover and a good match for the story inside.

H. Lewis-Foster (0101-01-01T00:00:00+00:00). Burning Ashes (Kindle Location 11). Dreamspinner Press. Kindle Edition.

Book Details:

ebook, 200 pages
Published October 11th 2013 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 1627981977 (ISBN13: 9781627981972)
edition language English

On Tour with Raine O’Tierney’s ‘Most Beautiful Words’‏ (book tour and contest)

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Raine O’Tierney is back today.  We sat her down an author “quickie”( interview, of course).  Check out the excerpt and blurb.  And don’t forget to enter the contest at the end.

Book Name: Most Beautiful Words
Author Name: Raine O’Tierney

Author Interview “Quickie”

Q:   What’s the best tongue twister you know (without looking it up)?

Raine:  A cherry stem. Wait, what did you mean? 😉

Q:   Can you sing the Big Mac jingle?

Raine:  I just tried and I failed epically, but I’ll have you know that my husband was trying to pantomime it for me so I didn’t look like a total nerd who didn’t know the Big Mac song.

Q:  Would you rather be a famous writer with money, or a relatively unknown writer whose book will change one persons life forever?

Raine:  I have always, from my early days as a writer many years ago, wanted to write a story that would change someone’s life, a book that would win a Newberry, and a novel that would be taught in high school English. But… man, some money would be nice too!!

—Full Author Interview:

• Your concept for this story is a poignant one, you might even call it bittersweet.  How did this story come about?

It started as a little story I told my husband as we were cleaning the kitchen together one day. Couldn’t have been more than a few sentences at most, but we both got a little choked up at the end. Never had a snippet of idea bring tears to my eyes. When NaNoWriMo 2012 rolled around and I was trying to figure out what to write, hubs reminded me of that snippet. Most Beautiful Words poured out of me in 13 days and took a year to revise.

• Do you believe in an afterlife?

I do because if I didn’t, I’d be so sad. I want to believe there’s more after this and I like to imagine it’s a place we design ourselves—all our happiness together in one space.

• Who would you want waiting for you in the Hereafter if it exists?

My Paw-Paw, who I dedicated Most Beautiful Words to… I’d like to think he’s very proud of me. He was the most amazing man.

• Who would you be waiting for?

This is a very interesting question—I think I would wait for those I had wronged, so that we could meet again in the afterlife and hug without the shackles of resentment. Sometimes there’s no making amends in this life, as hard as you try, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to reconnect in the future.

• Why frame out your story in this manner?

I developed Autumn as the Storykeeper first, but I didn’t want this beautiful, vibrant, loving young lady to be just the Storykeeper. I wanted to show her and her life as much as I showed the love that Roy and Tommy shared. That created the first two POVs. I don’t think it would have been as powerful, though, without the Valley as a third concept. In some ways it was easy to write this way, and in other ways it was like French braiding…which I am not great at. ^_~ I think it turned out well!

• Which of your characters evolved first?

Autumn and Tommy evolved together, which was really a cool chars-development concept since they’re related.

• What would your afterlife look like?

Just like Burmecia from Final Fantasy IX. And if you’re not a super nerd and don’t know what that is, it would rain all the time in my afterlife.

• Do you believe that love transcends everything?

I think that it can if it’s used right. I don’t think idle love transcends everything. I think lionhearted love can transcend, even if it doesn’t seem like it in the moment.

• First story you read as a child that has impacted your writing as an adult
Behind the Attic Wall by Sylvia Cassedy

• Your favorite comfort story that you pick up when you are looking for that comfort read or old friend.

Every few years, I go back to Hogwarts! I’ll get all the books on audio and listen to Jim Dale for days, reliving the magic and the adventure of Harry Potter.

• What is next up for Raine O’Tierney?

I have two releases in December: X-Mas Cake (A Modern Fairytale) from Beaten Track Publishing and Bowl Full of Cherries from Dreamspinner Press, then in January the M/M romance I wrote with my husband, Alchemy Ever After comes out from Dreamspinner Press, and finally in March, my YA I’ll Always Miss You is released from Harmony Ink. In the meantime, writing writing and more writing!s

Thanks so much, Raine for the great interview!

Thanks

Author Bio:

Called “Queen of the Sweetness” (well, two or three people said it anyway!) Raine O’Tierney loves writing sweet stories about first loves, first times, fidelity, forever-endings and…friskiness?

Raine O’Tierney lives outside of Kansas City with her husband, fellow Dreamspinner Press author, Siôn O’Tierney. When she’s not writing, she’s either asleep, or fighting the good fight for intellectual freedom at her library day job. Raine believes the best thing we can do in life is be kind to one another, and she enjoys encouraging fellow writers. Writing for 20+ years (with the last 10 spent on M/M) Raine changes sub-genres to suit her mood and believes all good stories end sweetly. Contact her if you’re interested in talking about point-and-click adventure games or about which dachshunds are the best kinds of dachshunds!

Author Contact:

Raineotierney.com | Dreamspinner Press Author Page | The Hat Party (LGBT Author Interviews!)
Facebook Fan Page | Twitter

 

Cover Artist: Brooke AlbrechtMostBeautifulWords_final
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Sales Links: Dreamspinner Press eBook     Dreamspinner Press Paperback

All Romance eBooks    Barnes and Noble

Most Beautiful Words Blurb:

Twelve-year-old Autumn’s world is shattered when her beloved Great-Pop, Tommy Johnson, suffers a stroke that leaves him comatose. With everyone around her resigning themselves to the inevitable, Autumn is the only one not willing to give up. She and Great-Pop have more secret stories to share with each other, after all. More stories about Roy McMillan—the great love of Tommy’s life whom he lost fifty years ago.

Autumn struggles to keep Great-Pop on this side of death’s door. But how can she compete with the beautiful and mysterious Valley—a place of surreal magic where the sun never fully sets? Especially when there’s someone familiar in the Valley who will do everything he can to keep Great-Pop from returning to her.

Most Beautiful Words Excerpt:

But Rook had no interest in waiting for permission. He’d come forward, snaking his arms around Toren’s sheet-covered waist and pulling him hard against his body. “It’s just a kiss,” Rook breathed before he put his lips against Toren’s. Should he protest? Had he protested? Toren couldn’t remember. In that moment there was nothing but Rook’s firm lips, gently teasing his own apart. Toren kissed back, tasting the other man, sucking at his bottom lip. Rook’s mouth was intoxicating, and quite suddenly, Toren forgot why he’d ever resisted. He liked kissing Rook. But after only an appetizer’s worth of his mouth, Rook pulled away. The sensation of their mouths pressed together lingered, and Toren was dumb with the moment. Lost on it. Uncertain what they’d even been talking about.

“Do you remember me now?” Rook asked.

“Mmn,” Toren agreed, warmth lingering on his lips. “Rook.”

Silence was his reply. The arms around his waist fell away, leaving him feeling cold.

Toren slowly opened his eyes to find he was standing alone, clutching his sheet, as Rook walked away from him toward the staircase.


Tour Dates/Stops:

ABeautifulWordsBadge2October 10: Angel Martinez, My Fiction Nook, Up All Night, Read All Day
October 13: Amanda C. Stone, Decadent Delights
October 14: Jade Crystal, Nephylim
October 15: LeAnn’s Book Reviews, Velvet Panic
October 16: Full Moon Dreaming, Dawn’s Reading Nook
October 17: Wake Up Your Wild Side, Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words
October 20: Parker Williams, Inked Rainbow Reads
October 21: Cate Ashwood, Love Bytes, Book Reviews, Rants, and Raves
October 22: Regular Guys, Hot Romance, Emotion in Motion
October 23: EE Montgomery, MM Good Book Reviews
October 24: Iyana Jenna, Prism Book Alliance

 

 

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