Review: House on Fire by Jenn Burke (2021)

Ashes & Dust, Book #2

Review of Ashes and Dust, Book #1

Heat Factor: they have sex often in this book – not penetrative sex – but it’s not especially lengthy or detailed

Character Chemistry: Evan is just so soft and Colin is just so in turmoil.

Plot: Mysterious bad guy tries to out paranormal community / the Vampire King’s brother gets in the way / Colin’s past joins his present / and also there’s some relationship development in there, too

Overall: Ah, book two of a trilogy: the darkest, cliffhangery-est one

I am so invested in this series. I’m not sure I can tell you why, except that it’s very comforting – not a lot of emotional roller coastering – and the worldbuilding is really engaging. I like most of the characters. Very comforting. 

The trilogy is one romantic arc, so this probably isn’t a great book for a reader new to the series, but probably such a reader would find it reasonably entertaining on its own. This book, being the second in the trilogy, takes the romantic story on a more troubled path, and it does end with a moderate cliffhanger, but the mystery of the book is solved, so that’s good, right? I mean, most of the story is about the plot points that aren’t Evan and Colin’s relationship, so it’s not a (total) downer. 

Okay, so what are we dealing with? The blurb makes it sound like this book is at least partly from Colin’s perspective – it is not – and that most of the conflict centers on Colin and Evan’s bond – it does in the context of their relationship, but not in the context of all the other things going on. The blurb also discusses someone murdering people and the paranormal community will seek retribution… Look, this blurb is just not on. It’s not wrong, but it’s also really not right, especially if you’re going in cold.

Here’s what it is: We were left with the knowledge that there’s probably an evil mastermind sort of person still out there at the end of the last book. This person seems to be trying to manipulate the paranormal community. Also at the end of the last book, Hudson’s (Evan’s sire, the Vampire King of Toronto) brother – who knows nothing of the paranormal – comes to Canada so he can live with Hudson, Evan, Colin and Co while recovering from his illness. Colin learned that his former fiancee got married and had her own family while he was in spellbound limbo for 34 years. Evan has depression and is also working through a lot of past trauma. 

So in this book, here’s where the plot starts: The evil mastermind sort of person is somehow obtaining footage of paranormal activity and is sharing it with the media, fomenting unrest among the non-paranormals, who are afraid of paranormals now, and the paranormals, who are afraid of being outed and hunted. Everyone dances around Hudson’s brother until he finds out some secrets, and then a bunch of personal stuff within the household hits the fan. Colin reconnects with his former fiancee and learns some WOW new information that causes (more) emotional struggles for him and some conflict between him and Evan. And yes, Colin wants to break the bond instead of having to follow Evan everywhere, and yes, this does cause conflict on a few levels in their relationship.

I feel like I might be forgetting something. 

Anyway, there’s a lot going on in this book. That said, it’s not super busy. I didn’t immediately get sucked in, though when things started pulling together I didn’t want to put it down. The story is all told from Evan’s POV, so Colin is pretty opaque, and there’s a lot of exposition as Evan tells us what’s going on in his head and all around. As a romance, unless a reader is already invested, it could be a miss. I love Colin and Evan together, and I’m really excited for book 3, but I also can’t deny that a lot of the draw centers more on the mystery and the bigger interpersonal dynamics than on the specific emotional growth of the romantic arc. It’s there, and it’s a central component of the story, but it’s not huge. 

I voluntarily read and reviewed a complimentary copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own. We disclose this in accordance with 16 CFR §255.

Buy Now: Amazon

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