Review: Out of the Ashes by Jenn Burke (2022)

Ashes & Dust, Book #3

Review of Ashes & Dust, Book #1 and Book #2

Heat Factor: They do have sex, but the story is focused on the mystery first and the repair of their relationship second, plus other stuff, so sex might not even be in third place in the plot agenda

Character Chemistry: They really get to choose each other this time

Plot: Left with an amnesiac boyfriend who intentionally severed their bond, Evan grapples with his changing relationship at the same time as people are somehow still trying to murder paranormals all over Toronto. Plus there’s a demon on the loose again.

Overall: What a lovely end to this series. I’m all heart eyes.

Friends, I am all in on Jenn Burke’s paranormal romantic suspense in Toronto. It’s both full of adventure and dead bodies and snuggly warm found family relationships. What could be better?

Out of the Ashes concludes a trilogy romance for Evan Fournier and Colin Chao nee Zhang. So now, if you haven’t read it all, you can binge the whole thing. I definitely recommend this because there were definitely things I forgot between the Ashes & Dust releases, and I have the alternative experience of binging the preceding trilogy, Not Dead Yet, in one go, and it was extremely satisfying. Anyway, if you want to get the scoop for the first two books, I’ve reviewed those separately (links above).

If you have already read the first two books and are trying to decide if you should read the third… Why? Do you not like fun? 

I’m mostly joking – every book isn’t for everybody – but at the end of the day these books do make for relatively light-hearted reading, which is somewhat surprising considering the body count and the trauma that the characters are experiencing or have experienced. Also considering Evan’s depressive episodes. But these are suspense-y books, so a body count really should not be surprising. And Evan’s depression being written as a part of his life that he manages and understands but that still gets to him sometimes is a level of acceptance-without-belaboring that I, for one, really appreciate. That is to say, I appreciate that it’s central to Evan’s character because it impacts him all the time, but it’s not the entirety of his identity or the driving reason that he struggles with whatever crosses his path.

Now, the story. Last book I was not thrilled with the back cover copy, I felt it was slightly misleading, but this one is much better. And it starts by talking about Evan, who is the single 1st POV narrator for the whole series, so that’s a significant improvement. I don’t know that I’d really add much more about the plot, considering that it’s a suspense book, and the mystery rolls from one thing to the next as they fit together the clues. Suffice it to say there are still mundane humans who know about paranormals and want to kill them, the demon who killed Hudson’s brother / Priya’s father in the last book is on the loose and causing trouble, Colin’s son comes further into play (And will he be the subject of the next trilogy? One can only hope.), and Colin and Evan must decide if they fight for their relationship or let it go now that the bond has been broken. As usual, there’s a lot going on. 

Given the 1st POV and the crime-solving going on, there’s not a huge amount of space to develop Evan and Colin’s relationship. Colin hits Evan pretty hard emotionally early on in the book, and so it’s for Colin to put in the work, but with everything else going on, some might not feel that there’s a lot of development in the relationship. It’s there, it’s just not the sole focus of the story and the moments are quick. Besides, even in books where the relationship is the primary focus of the narrative, when they’re 1st POV it can be extremely tricky to tease out the dynamic arc of the non-POV protagonist. For me, the romance was an incentive to read, but not the whole draw of the book, so I really enjoyed the series; but for someone seeking a character-driven, big-feels romance, it might miss. 

If we look at the relationship in its totality, we’ve gone from an ensorcelled Colin trying to kill Evan to both of them being involuntarily bonded to each other, at which point they start a relationship with each other that’s full of obstacles thanks to Colin’s past and the fact that they never really got to choose to be together (the bond forces them to be within a certain distance of each other). So, finally, in this book, with the bond broken and Colin’s odd amnesia we get to see them kind of start fresh and really, truly decide to be together for the sake of themselves and not for external, forced reasons. It was lovely. Even considering the murder and violence. 😉

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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High body counts and mysteries!


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