Aussie Book Review: Chasing the Flames by Cheryl Adnams

"Sometimes the hottest fire burns with an old flame.

Trisha Carne has loved Brian Muller, of Muller's Field vineyard, for as long as she can remember but the moment has never been right. Then an unexpected kiss on New Year's Eve has Brian looking at her in a new way. Has she finally caught his attention?

Brian's been doing it tough since his wife left him, and has retreated into the safety of bachelorhood. So he's surprised to find this new fling with an old flame is starting to bring him back to life.

Until his ex-wife turns up in McLaren Vale and he's thrown into a state of confusion. 

Will Brian and Trisha let their pasts keep them from finding true happiness? Or will they have the courage to chase the flames that still smoulder between them?”

New Year’s Eve – a night of the year that Brian Muller, heir to Muller’s Field (one of the oldest wine estates in the region), hates with a passion, so much so that for the past three he’s refused to accept any invitations to parties, instead choosing to go MIA. This year, however, he’s had to make an exception, as he’s run out of excuses!

Trisha Carne, on the other hand, can’t wait for her day at her catering business, Market 180 CafĂ© and Catering, to end. Although she, too, isn’t particularly fond of the New Year’s celebrations, this year she’s excited that she’ll be getting to see her high-school sweetheart - the man she lost her heart to all those years ago, watching from the sidelines as he got married and then moved away to the city. Somehow, even though he and his wife Maria have divorced and he has been back for a while, the timing has never been right to let him know exactly how she feels – “That – and her being a giant scaredy cat – meant years continued to pass by without a single move on her part”. She’s hoping that this night will present an opportunity.

However, with a number of drinks under his belt, thanks to the very annoying journalist, Liz Lawler, who persists in aggravating him and his brothers with her questions, by the time midnight comes around, Brian is absolutely blitzed and Trisha finds herself holding him up and leading him outside for some fresh air. As strains of U2’s “New Year’s Day” blast out of the door of the hotel, Trisha suddenly finds herself in Brian’s arms in which can only be described as a mind-blowingly sexy and heated kiss.

Even though this is not how Trisha envisioned their first encounter to play out, the already low burning flames begin to smoulder, threatening to singe your fingers as you turn the pages. But the journey for our hero and heroine is by no means over. As her and Brian begin to see one another on a more regular basis, Trisha has to fight against her own insecurities when she begins to wonder if Brian’s just out for good sex without any commitment. But, when his ex-wife, Maria, arrives on the scene, it throws a further spanner in the works for these friends to lovers as Brian is faced with a decision that only he can make.

After reading a number of incredibly long and deep novels prior to this one, I was strongly in need of something short and light-hearted, and Chasing the Flames thoroughly satisfied that need. I certainly got far more than I bargained for when I went into this book and the more I read, the less I wanted to put it down - yes, it was that engrossing! 

This is book number two in Cheryl’s rural-romance trilogy about the Muller brothers who own and run the family winery in McLaren Vale and she has packed so much into this little novel. Unlike your typical romance novel, it has a lot of substance, with Cheryl introducing us to a wonderful ensemble of characters whose individual stories all weave together perfectly as they interact with our hero and heroine, giving us a well-rounded story in which I was able to feel the connections between them all.

She assuredly shows her talent for character development, from the young heart-breaker who won Trisha’s heart when they were still at school, to the disillusioned man that Brian has become after the breakdown of his marriage, even while displaying such dedication to his volunteer work with the Country Fire Service; the loveable and bubbly Gabby; Brian’s endearing dad Harry, who imparts his years of knowledge to his sons; Ruby, who keeps the family fed and cared for; Brian’s brothers, Seth and Andrew, who seem able to predict his actions before he does; to the dreadful journalist, Liz Lawler and the spoilt, petulant Maria. 

Told in alternating POV's by both Brian and Trisha, her background too is given to us throughout the narrative, some by way of flashbacks, and we begin to see how much she has grown from the wild child that she used to be to the successful catering business owner she has become.

Cheryl uses all these characters to move her story forward at a fast pace, adding depth by showing their past hurts and vulnerabilities, and that is the stand-out for me. Along with the well-structured story, engaging characters and a fantastically rendered background of life in the Fleurieu Peninsula, I’m sure that those of you who have read Bet On It, will feel like you are visiting old friends. For those of you that haven’t, you will have no trouble keeping up with the storyline, so it can quite easily be read as a standalone.

I’ll definitely be keeping my eye out for further books by Cheryl Adnams as I feel that she’s another Aussie author who’s going to leave her mark on the rural romance sub-genre and definitely one who’s earned her place on my bookshelf.

I wish to thank Random House Australia for providing me with an e-ARC via NetGalley and inviting me to be a part of this great blog tour.

This Review forms part of the Chasing the Flames Blog Tour being hosted by Random House. For full details of the blogs taking part in the Tour, please have a look at the Schedule here.

Previously on Tour was Bree over at 1girl2manybooks who shared her Review yesterday and you can read it here.

The Tour will continue on Monday, 6 October with Monique over at Write Note Reviews sharing a Guest Post by Cheryl.

Please be sure to check out all the great blogs taking part and show your support for our wonderful Aussie Authors and bloggers.

A Little About the Author

Cheryl Adnams lives in Adelaide, South Australia.

After discovering a love of writing in high school, she went on to complete courses in screenplay writing and a Diploma of Freelance Travel Writing and Photography.
Having travelled extensively, Cheryl lived and worked in the United States, Canada and then for a tour company in Switzerland and Austria. Back home in South Australia now, she has a deep love and pride for the Fleurieu Peninsula and Adelaide Hills regions – particularly the beauty of the beaches and wine region of McLaren Vale.

She attributes Nora Roberts/J.D. Robb for inspiring her to get back into her lifetime love of writing. When she’s not writing, Cheryl is avidly reading as many books as she can fit in around her busy full-time job as a training facilitator.

For some further information on Cheryl, please be sure to have a look at the Q & A which I had with her previously as part of this tour, here.


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