Embers by Tory Temple
Embers picks up where Tory Temple’s best-selling book, Tinder, leaves off, with the relationship Chris and Morgan have built becoming strained around the edges. Chris can’t understand it, and he’s not sure what’s going on, but Morgan is becoming distant and secretive. Chris can’t help but suspect the worst.
Morgan doesn’t know how to explain what’s going on, so he doesn’t, creating an awkwardness and strain that might be hard to fix. Can Chris find a way to make Morgan explain what’s going on without losing the man he’s come to love?
This is a sequel from an earlier story involving Morgan and Chris from the book Tinder. That book had its moments for sure since the main character of Morgan was uncompromising and rigid. When Embers came out, there were mixed reviews but mostly negative as reviewer after reviewer remarked on the unflattering and unappealing personality of Morgan. When one of the main characters is off-putting to the general reading audience, the book is a hard sell. In this case, the general opinion that the story is unsuccessful is sadly true. This is not a romance, and frankly I fail to see what is romantic between one half of the relationship constantly taking scorn and abuse and “letting it go” for… good sex maybe.
I had my reservations about these two, as Morgan was a disagreeable character in the first book. I looked forward to a sequel though when the reason Chris stays becomes more evident. Perhaps Morgan will actually show emotion and perhaps a nice word to Chris, perhaps Chris will explain why he puts up with the demeaning, derogatory attitude of Morgan’s. I was honestly willing to give both the author and characters the benefit of the doubt and understand their choices. Instead, this is another example of Morgan being inexcusably rude and hurtful and Chris forgiving everything, including lying and betrayal, just to stay with Morgan.
The character of Chris is so weak and co-dependent it is uncomfortable to read. His need to accept Morgan’s poor behavior, dismissive attitude, and lack of any positive influence is painful. The brief shinning moment where Chris shows some intelligence and emotional strength is soon ignored in the face of his dependence on Morgan. Chris is not a bad character nor is his weakness unappealing, it is more uncomfortable and unfortunate. If he had a decent partner in a loving relationship, he could thrive and lavish love and attention on a deserving mate. Instead he chooses someone who repeatedly demeans and scorns him, his choices, his job, and his passions. It’s sad and says nothing positive about either man.
Morgan is an ass and frankly, he likes it that way so either Chris adapts or leaves. Never once in the entire story does Morgan bend, compromise, or even utter a single positive, nice thing to Chris until the end. At the very end after Morgan has lied, betrayed, and crushed any hope of trust between the two men, he unbends enough to admit he wants to be with Chris. Rather big of Morgan to go that far while admitting he thought he was in love with the ex he lied about going to see. If Chris hadn’t caught Morgan in the lie, he would have seen no reason not to continue to lie and betray his lover of two years due to his own selfish needs and wants. He experiences no regret, no shame, and no sorrow about his actions – only that he was caught. No doubt, this will be a pattern to their unhealthy relationship.
The story attempts several times to address Morgan’s actions but show they are acceptable. Even Chris’ friend councils him to let it go and just deal with an asshole partner. Like that is a healthy way to act in a relationship but apparently it is for firemen. So Morgan is forgiven repeatedly for never supporting Chris or even showing him an ounce of affection, other than when Morgan wants sex. Morgan is allowed to lie, betray, and generally treat Chris like an ignorant child. Morgan says at various times:
"I know, Mr. Matthews." Morgan’s gray eyes were calm as he watched Chris grab his keys from the counter. "And you would think that after two years together, you’d try to be less sensitive."
"Less sensitive." Chris blinked. "That’s how you think we should solve the problem? By me ignoring you when you’re a dick?"
Morgan leaned back and took off his glasses. "Sure. I ignore you when you’re being one."
"What’s the password? ‘Chris has a big dick’?"
"Close. Substitute ‘is’ for ‘has’ and you’ve got it. I have to go, I’ll be home early." Morgan disconnected, and Chris would bet a large sum of money that he turned his phone off, too.
Morgan smiled and offered Chris a kiss. "You’re easy to get along with."
"One of us has to be."
Unfortunately I found the entire story unappealing and unattractive. The individual men have enough problems that make a relationship virtually impossible. Morgan, especially, is not equipped to be with another person as his inherently selfish nature will make him incapable of compromise or affection. Why the author chose to portray such archetypes in a romance novel is baffling. Besides the fact that these types of men no doubt exist, who wants to read about them in an escapist romance story? I certainly don’t want to read about a dismissive, scornful man who is above everyone and everything in the guise of romance. For me, there is nothing romantic or attractive and I’d much rather spend my money on well-crafted, intricate characters that appeal in their flaws. That of course is my choice and unfortunately I’m starting to question whether I’ll continue with the author. Decide for yourselves as always.
Get it here!