Thorne Lachlan knows a thing or two about getting himself safely out of a blaze. For years he fought in the world’s hot spots, a Commando with the Australian Army. Now, retired, he fights flames for the Royal Fire Service. When a grassfire brings him to Lang Downs, the next sheep station in danger, Thorne meets Ian Duncan and sparks fly that neither man can put out. But both men have ghosts from the past that stand in the way of moving beyond mutual attraction.
While Thorne longs for the home he could share with Ian at Lang Downs, he fears his own instability might make him a danger to others. And Ian’s always believed that the foster care nightmare he escaped before coming to Lang Downs would make any relationship impossible. Trust doesn’t come easily to Thorne or Ian until the fire’s aftermath forces them to see past the scars keeping them both from healing.
Book four in the Lang Downs series.
This was my second exposure to the Lang Downs series by this author, after reading book one which garnered three stars due to the romance being so unbelievable.
We get glimpses here again of Caine and Macklin, and their relationship, while not at the forefront of this book, was nice to revisit.
Lang Downs continues to be a haven for those in need of a true home. Whether it be abusive husbands, minorities and especially gay men - they all find a place at this sheep farm and are included in the family.
This book is all about Thorne Lachlan, a former Australian Commando (Special Ops, I presume) soldier now serving as a firefighter in the Australian Outback, and Ian Duncan, a year-rounder on Lang Downs, who keeps mostly to himself.
Thorne has serious PTSD and it's affecting his interactions with others. Approaching him from behind is never a good idea, and touching him without warning isn't either. Still, he's a damn good fire fighter. Sent to Lang Downs by his Chief to warn the owners about the approaching bush fire and start preparations, he meets Ian Duncan and immediately is intrigued by the quiet man.
Ian hides his own secrets that only come out over the course of the book, and I won't spoil it for you. Let it suffice that his struggles are serious, and should probably come with a trigger warning.
What I loved about this book was the relationship. The romance. It wasn't easy, not with the issues that plague these men, but it was beautiful. They truly, truly loved each other and were willing to fight for each other, even if it meant being apart for a while to work on their issues. What also really impressed me was Thorne's willingness to give up all control to Ian, because he instinctively knew that Ian needed it. He was so very careful during all their intimate scenes, yet still enough of not-a-saint to flip out completely once he hears Ian's full story. Not because he's angry with Ian, but because he's enraged that someone hurt the man he loves.
The scenery is gorgeous. I've never been to Australia, so I only know of the outback based on what I've seen in pictures, but the author is either very familiar with the landscape or did her research well. Her words transported me into the scenery, and it was breathtakingly beautiful.
Of course, this being a romance, there is a HFN. The intimacy between the two men is wonderfully described, full of emotions, and I often felt like an intruder just reading those words. What was lacking for me in the first book was fully explored and so well done in this one. The slow burning progression in the romance really made this stand out.
And even though I didn't read books 2 and 3, there was sufficient background story given on those characters that I never felt confused. This is a standalone story, with a beginning, middle and end, though it draws on the characters from the previous books and hints at their relationship struggles.
Gorgeous. Give this a try.
I received a free ARC from Dreamspinner Press. A positive review was not promised in return.
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