Title: Rhino Ash (Saturday Barbies #2)
Author: Lindsey Black
Publisher: Netherwood Press
Release Date: October 27, 2017
Genre(s): Gay Contemporary Romance
Page Count: 276 Pages
Reviewed by: ColinJ
Heat Level: 2 flames out of 5
Rating: 2 stars out of 5
Ashley Jameson always tries to do the right thing, but that’s hard when your nephew keeps eating crayons, your niece is dressed as a pudding and your obnoxious older brothers crash the church’s Sunday brunch with the guy you’ve been crushing on for five years. Going to work to fight fires is a welcome relief from family obligations, until the Riot Squad arrives to investigate and Ashley once again finds himself dealing with his siblings. Oh … and Finn Hale.
But Finn’s dark past continues to haunt him. As work gets increasingly busy with a string of arson attacks on illegal immigrants, Finn steps in to be the shoulder Ashley needs to lean on, but Ashley struggles to do the same for the man he loves. Juggling family and work can be difficult, but Ashley soon discovers that the real challenge is when it’s not a struggle at all … because you’ll do anything for the ones you love.
The novel follows a traditional pattern whereby the central theme follows two people as their relationship develops whilst an underlying plot line offers tension to offset the romanticism. Both of the lead characters work in differing jobs with each providing personal risk as well as the necessary link to the secondary plot. In addition each has contracting backgrounds. Add to that a large family, friends and co-workers and there is the potential for rich storytelling. Unfortunately, it does not work out that way. Whilst the central characters are pleasant enough, they seem to fall to easily into comfortable ways and, despite all that is going on around them, this does not falter at all so at best they lack depth. The characters that surround them are numerous and it can be difficult to tell them apart. None have a great deal of depth and behave in idiosyncratic ways, as such there is little for the reader to empathise with. The story alternates between the relationship building and dealing with life and death situations instigated by some nefarious but unknown villain. Whilst traumatic events occur throughout, none are developed and are episodic in nature so there is insufficient for the reader to either become anxious about or to particularly empathise with those involved.
Perhaps it is a characteristic of the setting, but relationships between the characters, be they friends, lovers or family, are bizarre. Characters are portrayed as having idiosyncrasies, which are just accepted and there is no counterbalance of normalcy. It is not possible to say that this is a coping mechanism, due to the risks of they jobs, as this extends to family and friends who are not involved in the work.
The story is light and quite readable with a pace that keeps the plot lines moving. However, there is a liberal scattering of colloquialisms, which affect the reading a little. Despite the escalation of traumatic events, for which there is no obvious rationale, the story moves along at a sedate pace.
The story ends by tying up loose ends; people’s lives are changed quite dramatically without any real reflection on how this has been achieved. The villain is revealed and dealt with but without any real dénouement.