Rating: 3.5 stars
Buy Links: Amazon | All Romance
Australian 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 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. 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 any more 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, something that doesn’t happen here.
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 may disappoint. Consider this recommended with reservations.
Cover art by Leah Kaye Suttle. It’s a lovely cover and a good match for the story inside.