Set Ablaze (Susan’s Review)

Title: Set Ablaze
Author: K.C. Burn
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: April 24, 2018
Genre(s): M/M Contemporary
Page Count: 200
Reviewed by: Susan
Heat Level: 2 flames out of 5
Rating: 1.5 stars out of 5


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.

I did not like this. There were a ton of things that bothered me, but the two most important ones were that the pacing felt off and that we got almost all tell and no show.

What I noticed the most when I started reading this was that it seemed like both Jez and Hayden had so many issues with each other it wasn’t even funny. I had absolutely no idea what they saw in each other when every conversation they had was awkward and stilted.

These guys make a problem out of every single thing. Hayden doesn’t know what to do with Jez being vegan. He doesn’t want Jez to act too gay for when his friends come by (this issue is later resolved, but it just seemed like Hayden disliked everything about Jez). He doesn’t want Jez to make a mess. He thinks he is lying about having a job. And Jez wasn’t much better. Jez thinks Hayden has to be a closet case. Or that he doesn’t want Jez around.

These guys were constantly judging each other. And then they were also both thinking how amazing is was to be living together and how attracted they were to each other. You can tell me these things, but when you only show me weird awkward conversations, I’m not going to believe these guys have amazing chemistry.

There were also these weird little things, like we’re suddenly told Hayden went to Vegas with friends for 4 days. But nothing else (what did he do there? Did he hook-up? Since he was single at that time. I want to know these things). Or when it is mentioned that Jez suddenly made two new friends whose names were dropped a lot, but we only get to meet them near the end of the book. Those kinds of things just felt weird and made me feel disconnected.

Also the pacing in this felt off for the entire book. We sometimes had pages and pages of scenes that didn’t make sense to me (I do no want to read about Jez going drinking with his buddies if it doesn’t contribute to the story). And then all of a sudden Jez gets a phone call that someone slashed his tires but then the next chapter begins and two weeks have past.

Oh, and we got fade to black sex scenes. We got one frotting scene, but everything else is off page.

I was also very surprised about the best friend/brother Miguel. He comes off as a douchebag at first. And since he and Jez hadn’t seen each other in 8 years (but did talk on the phone), and Miguel still didn’t want to get together, I was ready to hate him. Especially because Jez didn’t seem to fond of him (understandably). But then we get this entire story about Miguel saving Jez from their parents when Jez was 17, and finding him an apartment and working double shifts to pay for it. He was basically a saint. And that came out of nowhere. What most surprised me was that Jez knew all of this, so why would he consider his brother a douchebag at first? I got that I thought that and Hayden did a bit too, but Jez’s thoughts made it seem like his brother was not that great a guy, when apparently he was.

There was also a major plot hole, with the stalker ex who had credit cards made in Jez’s name. But the thing was Jez Bouchet was a stage name. Jesus Perez was his real name. I’m pretty sure you cannot get a credit card in a stage name. (It is mentioned that Jez wanted his name officially changed, but he didn’t have the money yet.)

Right, so I guess it is clear that I didn’t like this book. If it hadn’t been an ARC I would have stopped reading after 20%.

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Galley copy of Set Ablaze provided by Dreamspinner Press in exchange of an honest review.