Title: Burning Love
Author: Trish Morey
Series: Hot Aussie Knights #4
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Length: Short novel
Available: 12th June
Caleb Knight’s ex accused him of being married to his firefighter job, and maybe she was right. He’s given up looking for happy ever after and finds what he needs between Ava’s scorching sheets. But lately, he’s wondering whether this thing with Ava might become more permanent…
Artist Ava Mattiske’s ability to trust was shattered long ago. Her steamy fling with Caleb is perfect until he starts talking long-term. She puts on the brakes, but when a bushfire threatens her studio and Caleb is on the scene, Ava realizes that there is one man she can count on… But will it be too late?
Source: ARC from Tule Publishing via NetGalley
The Hot Aussie Knights series ends on a slightly dark note with a friends-with-benefits romance that’s more about the benefits than the friends part. Caleb is a pretty straight forward guy, but Ava has serious trust issues that stem from a dark secret she hides in her past.
This secret is teased out across the course of the book, and while it goes a long way to explaining why Ava is the way she is, it also doesn’t help get over the fact that she’s just really reserved. Despite the chemistry between her and Caleb, she’s quite cold and hard to get to know because she keeps so much of herself hidden. I know why she does that, but the lack of emotion meant the push-pull between her and Caleb was lacking any real weight for me. What she really needs is a bit of therapy, but what she gets is Caleb, an art exhibition and a bushfire. Which apparently works for her, so great.
This book isn’t your usual romance because Caleb and Ava have been seeing each other for a year, casually hooking up when they have the urge and the time. They’re not friends, they’re barely acquaintances, but there is a measure of comfort in their relationship. The problem here is that there isn’t any romance or much development. Caleb starts wanting more, Ava gets twitchy, and the book is a mish-mash of variations on this theme.
It could have been an angst-ridden mess, it could also have been an emotional ride that wrung every last drop out of the issues between them and Ava’s history. It was neither. My emotions weren’t stirred at all, which considering the subject matter and the risk factor is kind of disappointing. I wanted to feel for both Ava and Caleb as they sorted out their relationship and fought for each other (and potentially their lives), but I couldn’t.
Mostly I just thought they weren’t all that well matched, chemistry aside, with Caleb doing all the work and putting in all the emotion, while Ava never seemed that bothered. For someone who values control as much as she did, she was rather passive. I spent most of the book more interested in why Caleb never seems to talk to his twin, or his cousins and enormous family. However, I did enjoy the firefighting stuff and it was good to finally get the results of the investigation – even if it did feel tacked onto the end as an afterthought.
So, in all, this was a slightly disappointing end to the series. I appreciate that it tried to be a little different to the rest and take a darker tone, but it sadly didn’t quite work for me.
Burning Love is out June 12th.
Visit Trish Morey for more details.