Reviewed by Jenni Cahill
Coral was born in Kenya. When she was nine years old her parents divorced and she went to live in England with her mother. Aged 26, Coral returns to Kenya after her father’s death to claim her inheritance, Mpingo, the family plantation. During the journey, Coral meets a man on the boat and is instantly attracted to him. They barely speak and she doesn’t even know his name, but Coral cannot stop thinking about him.
When she arrives at Mpingo, her former nanny, Aluna, tells Coral about the man who befriended her father before betraying him by having an affair with her stepmother. When Coral once again runs into the stranger she met onboard, she learns he is Rafe de Montfort, the man Aluna warned her about. Despite knowing Rafe’s history, Coral can’t help falling for him and as the pair get to know each other, they switch from passionate embraces to sniping battles in a struggle to decipher their feelings.
Set in 1970s Kenya, Burning Embers is full of mystery and passion. While Rafe is clearly attracted to Coral, he keeps pushing her away, which confuses Coral as he is a known womaniser. Something has happened in Rafe’s past, something that makes him want to keep naïve, innocent Coral at arm’s length. However there are moments when Rafe gives in to his attraction and the scenes get pretty steamy!
It took me quite a while to get into the story as I couldn’t warm to the characters. In the beginning Coral comes across as quite a strong-minded, stubborn young woman, refusing to listen to advice about the dangers of the area caused by the power shifts. She thinks she knows better even though she hasn’t lived in Kenya since she was a child. Her old nanny, Aluna, infuriatingly speaks in riddles, supposedly warning Coral while making very little sense. She makes a big deal about a set of keys Coral receives at her father’s request, claiming evil things will be found if she goes looking in the rooms the keys belong to. Nothing much is found – certainly nothing evil – and the keys are never mentioned again.
The book and pace does seem to pick up when Rafe reappears and Coral gets to know him. Their relationship is very turbulent, switching from love to hate and back again, so it is questionable how it will end for them, especially when Coral starts to look into Rafe’s past.
Burning Embers is a passionate love story, but the pace was a bit too slow for me.
You can find out more about Hannah Fielding and the setting of Burning Embers on her Website.