In brief: The story of quiet and kind Muller brother, Brian and the woman who has loved him since high school, Trisha.
The good: It’s sexy and funny with lots of good food and wine mentioned.
The not-so-good: Brian is quite clueless when it comes to women.
Why I chose it: Thank you to Random House, who know I adore Random Romance, for the eARC and inviting me to be part of this blog tour.
Pages: 224 (eARC)
Publisher: Random House
Setting: South Australia
My rating: 7 out of 10
Chasing the Flames continues my run of reading novels set in South Australia (definitely not a bad thing, although I still don’t understand the FruChocs love). It has the added distinction of being set in McLaren Vale, which is an absolutely gorgeous wine growing region with a ginormous hill for both cars and cyclists. What I didn’t know about McLaren Vale is that it’s also home to some of Australia’s most desirable bachelors, the Muller brothers. This is the second book in a planned trilogy (the first book is Bet on It) focusing on one brother at a time.
For Chasing the Flames, it’s Brian’s turn. Brian’s the most sensitive and possibly the most damaged Muller brother. He’s quiet and cautious, even more so after his disastrous divorce from Maria. But Trisha, who has been his friend since childhood has a hidden secret – she’s loved Brian since she was little. As they’re both now pushing 40, that’s a long time! Just as Trisha works up her courage to tell Brian how she feels, Maria returns to McLaren Vale. She’s your stereotypical gold-digger who will use all her charms to lure Brian back to her lair. Add to that pesky journalist Liz, who is researching the Muller boys for an article and never, ever misses an opportunity to try one on and you’ve got a serious case of missed chances and misread signs.
Despite having not yet read Bet on It, I easily understood the world the Mullers inhabit (in fact, I think it would be even more fun now to return to that story to see how Gabby and Seth got together). The scenery is gorgeous and the brothers quite jovial and teasing – the closeness of the trio shone through the pages. I did find Brian a little more dense that your average hero (how can he not realise what he has with Trisha is gold?) and his eagerness to never hurt anyone, even a gold-digging ex-wife a little perplexing. He’s lucky that Trisha is a very strong, persistent woman who has taken the bad things in her life and used them to build character. I think Trisha as the heroine shone more brightly than Brian – he’s more of man candy to me. Hopefully Trisha will wake him up to what’s going on in the world.
The thing I enjoyed most about Chasing the Flames was that it didn’t follow the conventional progression of a romance novel. Trisha and Brian got together very early on and things were super steamy (now I understand why there are so many 40˚C days in South Australia). Everything seemed peachy until the arrival of Maria and Liz getting her claws stuck into Brian. There was not just one, but several roadblocks to the pair’s happiness and the climax was excellent. Not only was it hot, but it covered an important part of Australian summer (I’m not going to spoil the surprise here). I loved the deviations and how at times I really wasn’t sure if Trisha and Brian would ever find their happiness.
Chasing the Flames combines wit and comedy with serious issues, but still gives the reader a happy-sigh worthy ending. Great for a weekend read.
Sam Still Reading is the last stop on the blog tour for Chasing the Flames – the previous stop was a Q&A with Cheryl at The Literary Gossip, otherwise drop by this page at Random House to see all the tour stops.