Review: Burning Both Ends

cover-burning both endsTitle: Burning Both Ends
Author: Sinclair Jayne
Series: Hot Aussie Knights #2
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Length: Short novel
Available: 29th May


Darington Knight has known a lot of loss in her twenty-six years. She can deal, so she resents it when the commander of her Montana smoke jumper unit sends her on a firefighter exchange program in Australia after her unit suffers a double tragedy. Hooking up with a sexy firefighter her first night Down Under improves Dare’s mood considerably until she realizes her hook up is now her station commander and he has a rule book as thick as her arm.

Lachlan Ryker did not make senior station officer as a Melbourne Metropolitan firefighter by the time he was thirty by acting impulsively, but when he meets the sexy, brash American in his favorite pub, his by-the-book, measured approach to life gets kicked to the curb. He and Dare ignite one night of smoldering passion he can’t forget. But before he can call for a second date, Dare strolls into his station newly assigned to him for three months. Lock knows he has to keep his hands to himself. He never breaks the rules. Dare, however, never heard a rule she didn’t want to shatter.

The following review contains spoilers,
’cause a plot point really annoyed me.
You’ve been warned.

Source: ARC from Tule Publishing via NetGalley

The second of this multi-author series about a firefighting family makes the most of its opposites attract premise, throwing in a bit of secrecy and forbidden fruit and more than a few issues around romance and trust. I found it mostly enjoyable, if a little irritating at times with regards to some of Dare’s actions, but it was okay.

Until it wasn’t. But I’ll get to that later.

Firstly, Lock seems like a decent guy. He’s a big protector-sort, who tries not to let the power of his position go to his head. Yes, he follows the rules, but in a dangerous profession like firefighting, I can’t see that as a bad thing. He’s also sporty and sexy and a nice guy.

Then there’s Dare, who is everything Lock isn’t. She’s impulsive and not one for rules and I was always waiting for her to do something dangerous or foolhardy. She’s also suffered quite a lot of loss in her life and seems to be at a crossroads, unmoored, uncertain and unconnected to pretty much anything. Lock is a safe harbour for her, providing friendship as well as sex, and they get on well.

However, their relationship is never particularly well balanced. Lock is clearly all in from very early on, while Dare vows never to fall in love and pouts about him not caring enough for her to ask her to stay. Her emotions lack maturity (for a reason), but it did mean Lock often seemed the more adult of the two, always taking her feelings into account while she stuck her fingers in her ears and pretended the obvious wasn’t happening.

Which, in my opinion, was more than enough issues for them to have to clamber over to find their HEA. They normally live an ocean apart, Dare thinks her heart still belongs to a boy she loved ten years ago, there’s a no fraternisation policy at work, Lock’s technically her boss, her family is legion and protective, he has an ex-wife who did a number on him… is this not enough?

Apparently not, because low and behold, despite her being on the pill and him always using condoms, her breast start to feel tender. That one throwaway line had my heart sinking. Please don’t go there, please don’t, I thought, but of course, it did. Yep, we have an unwanted pregnancy, because a baby really is the only way to resolve all your issues. And birth control fails. All the time.

That pisses me off. Not just the failure of birth control, but the way throwing a fetus into the mix will cure everything. It feels lazy and unnecessary and it made me annoyed for the rest of the book. I would much rather Lock had time to tell Dare his feelings in his own time. Likewise, I would have much preferred that Dare came to realise that her love for Lock was enough to get over the past because he was enough, not because his children deserved a father and she wanted to be with the father of her babies. There was plenty of angst already swilling around and instead of getting work-related drama, we got baby drama that made me want to smack Dare upside the head and shout, “Consider the source!”

So. Yeah. I liked Lock, felt a bit indifferent about Dare and whether or not she was going to do something reckless or keep using Lock like an emotional crutch, and hated the pregnancy plot. All of which left me feeling mostly disappointed by this one. Lock deserved better.

Burning Both Ends is out 29th May.
Visit Sinclair Jayne for more details.


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