Title: Set Ablaze
Author: KC Burn
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Length: 200 Pages
At a Glance: There was so much to like about this book that I fear I may spoil too much of it. The complexity and depth of the characters were fantastic, and I particularly loved how Hayden grew from somebody who was uneasy in his skin to being comfortable and willing to help others.
Reviewed By: Jenn
Blurb: California firefighter Hayden Hurst is starting to realize there’s more to life than fighting fires and drinking with his buddies. He has room in his home and his life for someone special, but no one has stood out among his hookups. And while he’s out at work, admitting he’s gay is very different from showing up at social functions with a man. He’s afraid that’ll be too much for his less-than-accepting “friends.”
Broadway dancer Jez Bouchet hasn’t been mistaken for straight since he was gay-bashed at seventeen. After getting a lucrative job offer in Hollywood, he uproots his life in New York and drives to Los Angeles. His brother, who is Hayden’s best friend, arranges for him to crash at Hayden’s place.
The attraction between Hayden and Jez is unexpected but fiery, and they succumb before they’re even sure they like each other. But Jez hates Hayden’s homophobic friends, and Hayden knows Jez is too flamboyant for him to fly under the radar. Then there’s the complication of Jez’s brother.
Despite those hurdles, they fling themselves into a relationship. But Jez has secrets: a tiny spoiled dog and a determined stalker. If he doesn’t come clean, he might torch their burgeoning relationship before it has a chance to bloom.
Review: I really enjoyed this book and each character’s development and growth. Hayden, at the beginning, was so relatable as somebody whose fear of rejection and abandonment lead him to make some really toxic friends, which deepened his insecurities and made him afraid to show who he really was. Jez’s desperation to find a new life away from his abusive ex lead him to beg his brother Miguel for a place to stay, who then asks Hayden to put Jez up, as Hayden has a house while Miguel is just renting a room, which allows Hayden to see the freedom he is missing and eventually make some needed changes in his life.
There was so much to like about this book that I fear I may spoil too much of it. The complexity and depth of the characters were fantastic, and I particularly loved how Hayden grew from somebody who was uneasy in his skin to being comfortable and willing to help others. The author managed to make a new twist on opposites-attract with the more straight-seeming Hayden falling for the flamboyant and unapologetic Jez. With his acceptance of Jez and then acceptance of himself, he (and we) discovers some of that flamboyance and that they aren’t so different after all. The story itself speaks a lot about not judging people by those they hang out with, or what seems like their actions, as we delve into Hayden’s insecurities and how he comes to terms with them. Even more than Hayden, Miguel’s character reveal really drove home how we tend to come to conclusions based on the bias of the lens we view them in.
I also enjoyed how, rather than jumping in and be the heroes of the day when going to deal with Jez’s abusive ex, the couple took a step back and let the police calmly deal with the situation. Even when presented with reasons why they shouldn’t, as provided by some of Jez’s poor history with the New York police, it was nice to see characters being practical and not rushing to levels of crazy bravery when they had the better opportunity and time to call in the trained professionals.
It was also nice to see that while Jez’s ex provided a level of tension in Hayden and Jez’s growing relationship and a great point of drama to the story, he didn’t become the climax. Instead, he was a sub-plot that was tied up in many ways after the climax, a loose thread to be cut so that happily ever after could really take place. Set Ablaze is a great novel that looks at acceptance of who we are and how the people we surround ourselves with influence and change that acceptance.
You can buy Set Ablaze here:
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