Anagama Fires by Sarah Black

Anagama FiresAnagama Fires by Sarah Black

Blurb:
Lucien Durand and Colin Ferguson have lived and loved as partners in life and art for more than twenty years. But happily ever after is never easy. Over time, Lucien begins to resent how Colin’s work overshadows his own art, and their relationship falls apart. Colin leaves with nothing but a backpack, and Lucien goes on alone, getting some counseling, developing a practice in raku pottery, and waiting for what would happen next. He never expects that Colin will send his nephew James to train as a potter. With James staying in Lucien’s home, a door will open between the former lovers, firing their hearts.

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Review:

Oy I had trouble with this one. I didn’t like any of the characters, the romance fell flat, and the only good thing – the pottery detail – was added in such minute detail my eyes often glazed over. I did like the information on how to fire and glaze the pottery, since this is pretty interesting and offered in such incredibly finite detail. There is so much though that it overwhelms the story and the telling is not saved by the bland and unlikable characters.

The story follows the main character of Lucien. He’s been living alone for the past five years since his long time partner (of twenty five years) walked out one day after a fight. Neither man is over their relationship but Colin has taken to living in Thailand while Lucien remains in their home. Their stalemate is finally called off when Colin’s young nephew James appears at the ranch, this finally lets Colin and Lucien reconnect and maybe move on.

The initial problem with the story is that the information about Colin and Lucien is offered very sparingly. First it takes nearly half the novella to understand that Colin and Lucien had a fight over Lucien’s growing resentment and Colin walked out. This isn’t explicitly said but offered in tiny bits as neither Lucien nor Colin wants to apologize or talk about the past. They get together again and simply forget the past. So it takes the reader a while to understand the dynamics of their relationship, which is complicated and should be interesting given how long two strong personalities have been together.

Unfortunately Lucien comes across as a weak, bland character. He gives in to Colin constantly and always excuses his lack of reaction by saying it’s worthless to get upset at Colin. So instead that gives Colin free reign to act like an asshole (and boy does he) with no repercussions since he’s an artistic genius. Everyone gives in to Colin’s wild demands and though Lucien attempts to maintain control, he lets himself get walked on every single time. Apparently Lucien’s motto is it’s better to be with Colin, no matter how aggravating than be alone so everything else is not worth the drama of standing up for himself.

This dynamic is not one that is enjoyable to read and the secondary relationship of James and Aaron is utterly forgettable. They meet, have sex, and then are considered an established couple pretty fast. Yet they are pretty unimportant in the face of Colin’s over the top personality and the secondary characters all exist to give more information about the pottery process. This is the best part of the book as the raku pottery and firing process is fascinating and shown in extreme detail. Clearly the author knows a lot about the subject and threw in every single thing. This is a double edged sword since this is the best part by far but it’s so much information my eyes kind of glazed over from it. I wish there hadn’t been such huge blocks of it but it kept my interest more than anemic characters.

I think if you can connect to the hurt/comfort theme of Lucien and Colin’s relationship, the story will appeal to readers. If you find, as I did, that Lucien is spineless and Colin is an ass, then you may not like it as well as others. While I didn’t like the romance at all, the firing pottery process is fascinating enough to warrant at least another star.

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