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.
So what did I think? Okay, so cricket isn't my favourite sport. Yes, I'm an Aussie, I even have a test cricketer in my family tree but cricket is boring! Hubby buys tickets every January and every year I do everything to avoid having to go (luckily with great success!) Anyway, happily this story isn't too focused on the particularities of the game and most of the time is spent with the main characters as they deal with the challenges of their relationship.
This is a case of instalove as a champion fast bowler from Australia falls for an up-and-coming player from the English side. What follows is a long distance relationship that has career and life-altering impacts for the two men.
The last 25% of the book was actually the most enjoyable - it had more angst and a couple of cute twists where it looked like something bad happened but it hadn't really (although after the third such incident it felt like this trick was slightly overused). There is lots happening in this book and it covers a quite a long period of time (over 6 years). I was surprised by a significant event at about the halfway point in the story as I wondered why such a climatic event would be at this midway point and what was then left. However the story continued to cover careers, injuries, world travel, family, sacrifices and love.
The characters are totally self-sacrificing, tripping over themselves to be the one to give up things for the other's happiness but I think I actually liked this in the context of this story. I liked the protectiveness they felt and the love they shared. I appreciated that these strong sportsman weren't afraid to cry, particularly Nat, the older of the two.
The insta-love was a bit unbelievable but acknowledged by the characters "How could he give up his whole life for a man with whom he had almost nothing in common and with whom he'd spent roughly five weeks since they met?" and I was a bit surprised by the choice made by one character to leave his country and coach for the other side. But I liked the cute cultural references and the way the story was told.
A sweet 3.5 stars.
Buy Burning Ashes from Amazon.
Buy Burning Ashes from Dreamspinner Press.