Evan is still reeling in the aftermath of Colin breaking their mate bond. He understands why Colin did it. Their wonky bond meant that the two men could never stray far from one another. It also bound them before they really had a chance to get to know one another. But the men had fallen in love and Colin breaking the bond is devastating for Evan. Things are made worse by the fact that Colin didn’t talk to Evan about it before making a decision, he just left him a note. But even harder than that is the fact that while Colin does remember the events of the past, he does not have the emotions to go along with the memories. So while he remembers that he had been in love with Evan, he no longer feels in love with him.
Even as Colin and Evan are working through things personally, there are bigger problems that they must face. First of all, there’s a demon out there killing people and everyone is unsure what the connection might be to Priya. When an explosion rocks the paranormal community, things escalate even further. So when Evan and Colin are approach by a paranormal law enforcement group asking for their help, they don’t hesitate to join in, even as it brings new dangers. But when they find out who is truly behind the killings and what they are planning against the supernatural community, it’s even worse than they could’ve expected. Now, it’s going to take everything Colin and Evan have, along with the help of their friends, to take down the killer before it’s too late.
Out of the Ashes the third book in the Ashes and Dust series and, as I noted, it picks up immediately following the previous book. You’re going to want to read this series in order and bonus points if you also read the previous Not Dead Yet series, from which these books are spun off. There are side characters that carry over, and it also gives you a chance to get Evan’s origin story. This book focuses on two main areas: Evan and Colin’s relationship and the continuing attacks of the paranormal community. In terms of the big picture, we get some resolution to questions that have carried over since the start of the series in terms of who is staging these attacks and why. We also get some exciting scenes and some intensity as the danger ramps up, particularly when Colin and Evan are helping to investigate. I think there were a few areas where things got a little confusing for me, as there are a lot of different groups involved and figuring out how all the pieces fit together was not quite as straightforward as I would’ve wanted. This is especially the case when referencing events from the past books, as I didn’t always remember them with perfect clarity. But overall, I think that the story largely comes together well here and we leave everybody in a really good place. While this seems to be the end of the trilogy, there are actually some interesting developments that I would’ve love to see turned into a spinoff if Burke ever decides to go that direction.
The second focus of the book is on the relationship side. At the end of the previous book, Colin makes the unilateral decision to break the mate bond with Evan. I thought from the end of that story that he now had full amnesia, but here we see that he does retain his memories, just not the emotions behind them. Colin remembers that he had been in love with Evan, but he doesn’t remember the feeling of being in love with him and so the emotional connection between the men is nothing like it was before Colin broke the bond. Everyone is hoping that those emotions all come back, but things are still uncertain. On the one hand, Evan understands why Colin made this decision. Their bond was wonky, and the fact that they could not stray far from each other essentially tethered Colin to Evan. But the way that Colin went about it is upsetting and certainly the aftermath is difficult for Evan to handle. Things are not made any easier by Evan’s depression and the situation is causing him to definitely struggle with his mental health.
Burke really does a great job developing the emotions and I could really feel intensity from Colin, despite the fact that none of the stories are from his POV. I also understood why they needed to break the bond, especially given the fact that it was hard to know how much of the emotion between them was due to the bond versus true feelings, so I think it all makes sense from a story perspective. However, I felt like this was sort of a one step forward, two steps back situation in that while the guys are friendly for most of the story, they are really not romantically connected until a ways into the book. So by this third story in the trilogy, it was frustrating to feel like things are almost starting over from a relationship perspective. By the time Colin regains his memories of the emotions, it felt so far along in the book that rebuilding that love between them felt like it happens somewhat quickly. This is especially true as Colin suddenly remembers “the memories of his emotions,” which to me doesn’t feel the same as feeling those emotions currently. And so I needed more time to see them redevelop that connection and I never quite caught the emotion between them that I wanted. While I really love both of these guys, the bond between them didn’t come through as strongly as I might have hoped. That said, we get a nice happy ending for Colin and Evan and the book sets the men up well for the future.
Overall, I have just loved this world Jenn Burke has created across these two series. All six books work so well as a set, and if you haven’t started them yet, I’d definitely suggest checking them out. And for those of you who have been following along with this series, I think you will enjoy how things come together for Colin and Evan and the rest of the gang.