Title: Bombay Bushie (Kolar Creek Tale #1)
Author: Val Francis
Publisher: eXtasy Books
Release Date: April 7, 2017
Genre(s): Contemporary Romance
Page Count: 234
Reviewed by: CrabbyPatty
Heat Level: 3 flames out of 5
Rating: 3.25 stars out of 5
Zech Larsson would sooner run headlong into a raging bushfire than into another relationship. Catching sight of their latest recruit, a young, Anglo-Indian guy with a head of long black curls and kissable lips, instant attraction warns Zech that he is in trouble, more so as he happens to be straight.
Exiled to Kolar Creek by his father when he was caught attempting to lose his virginity with another boy, Nathan Harris finds the idea of life in this small country town uninviting—that is until he gets an eyeful of Zech in his uniform. Sudden Nathan knows that the Rural Fire Brigade needs his services.
In Kolar Creek, the temperature is heating up, and when Nathan’s training is left in Zech’s hands, a clash is inevitable. Faced with the temptation that this younger man presents, soon other factors come into play and neither of their lives will ever be the same again.
In a nutshell, I like the premise of this story plus the relationship that develops between Zech and Nat, but the overly-angsty internal dialogues just did not work for me.
40-year-old Zeck (short for Zechariah) Larsson, a native of the small Australian town of Kolar Creek (“a single row of lights down Main Street but when they finish, hey presto, it’s the country”) doesn’t have much of a life outside of the Rural Fire Brigade and his work. Divorced, after a disastrous brief marriage, Zech is straight. But when he meets new Fire Brigade volunteer Nathan Harris …
I remembered the way my body had reacted to Harris the moment I had seen him walk through the station door. His wiry frame, his rich skin tones that made the rest of us look bland. And his crowning glory, the exotic tangle of long black curls that cascaded from his head in a bubbling waterfall. Shit, how the hell could a guy not get drunk when presented with a potent cocktail of the likes of Nathan Harris?
When these two lonely men find each other, their sexual chemistry sizzles but their HEA is a hard-fought one, with Zeck coming to realize “I’d spent my life wearing a mask, hiding, doing it for so long it became second nature… until Nat.” On the way to this realization, Zech works through his feelings, as in “Shit, I never had as much as thought about gay stuff, and while I had no problem with guys who were into it, it had never interested me. Not ever!” and “Shit, there’s not a gay bone in my whole body” but, to his credit, overcomes all that “inherited guilt, the residual of my narrow religious upbringing.”
20-year-old Nathan, for his part, is dealing with his horrible family as well as a lack of self confidence. Half Indian (his mother was born in Mumbai), his internal dialogue cycles between “Queer, poofter, Nancy boy, Paki. I’d had them all slung at me more times than I’d ever been called Nathan” or “a queer Paki no-hoper” or “half-caste queer Nathan Harris, so bad that even his own family can’t stand the sight of him.” But this continues throughout most of the book, with Nat thinking (around 76%) “Obviously, I’d fucked up Zech’s life, alienated him from the people he’d known for years, come between him and his friends. […] A better solution, if I had the courage, would be to chuck my useless faggot carcass into the river.” Although Nat and Zech get their HEA, IMHO I don’t see a lot of growth in Nat’s self-confidence at the end of the book.
The strength of this book is the relationship and chemistry between Nat and Zech, but it lost some points for me with the angsty lack of confidence (and the arson subplot which gets a resolution in one short scene.) 3.25 stars.
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