Burning Ashes, H Lewis-Foster
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: Gay Romance
Tags: Sport – Cricket, Contemporary
Length: 200 Pages
Reviewer: Kazza K
Intelligent and confident, Australian cricketer Nat Seddon is one of the world’s best bowlers. He’s openly gay, but keeps his private life to himself, everything under control. But on the last day of his team’s “Ashes” tour of England, he meets Scott Alverley, England’s promising new batsman. Nat tries not to be attracted to Scott, but he can’t help finding the privileged young man handsome and endearing. Nat is tempted by a little end of tour fun, but finds himself playing agony uncle to a virgin. Instead of going home to bask on a beach, he spends a wet week in the north of England with Scott. Try as he might to resist, he can’t help falling hopelessly in love.
The hectic sporting calendar is a persistent obstacle to their growing romance; Nat and Scott are rarely even on the same continent. They make the most of the time when they can be together, but the months apart take a toll on Scott, professionally and personally. The possible solutions are nearly unthinkable, but if they are willing to make sacrifices that will change their lives forever, they might hold on to the love they found in the Ashes.
Burning Ashes is a nice, easy read. It isn’t really about Cricket. There is nothing technical about it. It is more about two men, who both happen to play cricket, meeting, falling in love pretty quickly, maintaining a long distance relationship and their life in general. Cricket is really just a backdrop for approximately six years. The last year is post cricket. So if the idea of Cricket puts you off, or makes you feel you need to know anything about the sport, don’t let it bother you. The most technical it gets is the fact that Nat bowls Scott out for a duck (no runs made) the first time their paths cross.
Nat Seddon is an Aussie fast bowler and while on tour in England, winning us Aussies The Ashes, of course, he gets bowled over (cricket humour) by Scott Alverley, a young batsman new to the English line up. Nat is gay and out, always has been. His mother is supportive, his father not particularly but not a homophobe either. His team mates and officials are all fine with him being gay. He has managed to have an active but discreet sex life as a high profile sportsman – the guys he has sex with are all high profile themselves and they don’t want to kiss and tell.
Scott Alverly is from a prominent English family and, unlike Scott, he has not come out. He went from boarding school to professional sport. He is quieter and never had a chance to meet guys without fear of being outed. So, Scott is a twenty-one year old never-been-kissed virgin. But he knows Nat is gay and he approaches him at the pub after the tour has ended –
Scott was still astounded by what he’d just done. At the age of twenty-one, he’d finally come out. He may not have said the actual words, but he’d made it clear to another person that he liked men. And who was the recipient of his life-changing announcement? A friend, a relative, or respected colleague? Of course not. He’d chosen Australia’s most fearsome fast bowler.
Scott invites Nat back to his place, but once there he gets super nervous about the idea of having sex for the first time. Nat accepts it, listens to Scott’s story, tells him a little about himself and plans on heading back to his hotel and hopping on the plane back to Australia the next morning. But Scott invites him to his parent’s holiday cottage and looks rather like a puppy, a rather cute puppy, about it all. Nat agrees to go, breaking some of his rules about sex and his professional life – don’t sleep with the enemy and don’t make it anything more than casual. They have a nice time, get to know one another, and still no sex occurs until the last night of Nat’s stay. But both men have now invested time in one another and like each other…a lot. So they agree to date. But life is not easy dating when one plays cricket for one country and the other for another country. The are months and months on the road spent in varying parts of the globe at different times and if you can meet, well, that’s a bonus.
So, Burning Ashes is about love. A couple trying to cope with time spent apart, trying to steal moments to share and enjoy, the way the couple gets around the loneliness of being apart and then their life together on the road. And how they end up finally.
I liked Burning Ashes, but it got a bit bogged down in the middle section. It was very sweet. The sex is off page and to be honest I missed it here. I don’t have to have sex in my romance reading, but if not I have to have drama, great characterisations, or chemistry that sizzles. I liked Nat, Scott too, but I didn’t love them. Scott got a bit tiresome when something did happen to him. Not for long, but just enough for me to get a bit ticked off. He snapped out of it and there is a nice ending.
The book is sweet, sweet, sweet. It is easy reading and it takes no time to get through the story. If you like a nice romance with sex off page, if you like sport as a backdrop, a HEA and a good standard of writing, then Burning Ashes is a gentle MM romance that I can recommend.