Chase Steele is not having his best year. Having left the military after a knee injury had him honorably discharged, he is finding it hard to get and maintain a job. Either due to downsizing or layoffs, Chase is once again looking for work. Plus, his current roommate is not working out and wants him gone as soon as possible. So when Chase takes his break and is feeding the ducks and trying to figure out where to grab a few applications next, the stranger who walks up is both startling and alluring. Chase has always found men attractive, but never acted on it. However, this tattooed stranger has him feeling like he might want to change his mind.
Xander Copperfield is finally finding his feet after a terrible past that included working for some shady bike gangs and being sold for sex. While he was a bit young to really understand or be bothered by the sex part, Xan now sees how bad a lifestyle he actually had and is currently changing all that by working for a reputable bike shop doing what he loves—fixing up motorcycles. Xan really lucked out when he met Bay and started working for him and his husband. From there, he got to meet their friends who are other gay couples and, even though Xan has never been with a man, he has often thought about it. The guy at the duck pond made a huge impression on him and now Xan just can’t seem to get the man out of his head—too bad he never got his name.
A.D. Ellis offers up a beautiful coming out romance story between two bisexual men who both have lousy pasts and are eager to put it all behind them. In Hearts Ablaze, the first in the new Forged in the City series, these two men find each other at a time when they are both questioning their sexuality and the attraction they have had for other men in the past. Rather than take the admittedly tired route where the guys can never seem to bring themselves to be honest with each other about their feelings, the author has communication and honesty as the key elements in their friendship. It is so refreshing to read about mature men who are willing to take a risk after a bit of soul searching and reach out to grab what they want. I love how these two went about discovering what kind of sex they wanted and the various acts they wanted to explore from rimming to blow jobs and more.
I also enjoyed the community of gay couples that surrounded Chase and Xan. These men are so nicely portrayed. To begin with, they are all business owners and some are also parents-—either having adopted or fostered children. There is such a solid atmosphere of support and love surrounding both Chase and Xan and, for me, that makes this novel all the more enjoyable.
Hearts Ablaze has lots of appeal, from the way in which Xan and Chase interact and fall in love, to the beautiful community of friends who support and love them. I look forward to reading more in this new series by A.D. Ellis.