Ablaze by: A.H. Cunningham

Sometimes you think you know yourself until you realize you’ve only scratched the surface.

Mariana Torres Charles is finally ready to fulfill her dream as a bandleader and designer for the up-and-coming Carnival Band LoveVibe for Miami Carnival. The win would be proof that she can follow through on her goals because in love…the follow through is less than stellar. After a long string of crushed lovers, she is done breaking hearts.

When Mason Brathwaite, her forever-friends-with-benefits, needs a date to a networking event to snag a new sponsor for his Student Community Center, she volunteers to attend with him hoping to catch a break from the pressures of dating. But when they meet the mysterious Daniel Robinson, son of Mason’s prospective donor and experienced kinkster, she can’t help but forget her newfound resolve.

Every moment they spend together illuminates her thoughts and desires, but her track record at love tells her it is only a matter of time before their liaison smokes away.

With Mason’s vying for her heart and Daniel’s and Daniel seducing their minds, what can a woman do but succumb to the temptation calling to her? Mariana will deal with the ashes once they come. After all, that’s her specialty.

Photo by Anni Roenkae from Pexels

Content Warnings: discrimination against same-gender partners as well as discrimination against polyamory.

Not going to lie, the cover is what drew me in and after reading book one, Alight, I knew that I needed to know more about Mariana and Mason. If you read Alight you’d know that Mariana and Mason have a long and complicated history. Anytime their friend group questions them, they evade and dodge all opportunities to clarify what they are to each other.

Mariana and Mason have both loved each other since they were teens but, because of some hesitations on both sides, never committed to more than just friends with benefits. They seamlessly fit into each other’s lives and are always there when the other needs them, yet they haven’t fully committed to a relationship. When they meet Daniel a new world of possibilities seems to open up before them.

Total honestly, there were many times that I wanted to reach through the pages and just shake these characters, Mariana especially. Though infuriating, at times, it was wonderful to see all three of them open up and warm to the idea of a future together.

Though they just met, Daniel just fits, as if he was made to be part of their lives. Its equal parts fascinating, and infuriating, seeing these three learn to be open and communicate their feelings and emotions. It takes a lot of trust, and love, to be in a relationship and these three put in the work, to build something beautiful.

This book shows how open communication, and trust, can create strong bonds and happiness. I love seeing these three not only learn from each other but explore kink together. Being able to open up and express all of your deepest desires takes a lot of trust and vulnerability, and I love how the author wrote the discussions around them.

It felt like the author really took her time ensuring that we could see how normal, and beautiful, kink is. The level of care Daniel shows, by having Mariana and Mason learn more about kink before they start a physical relationship is wonderful. He constantly makes sure they’re checking their limits and remember their safe words and ensures they practice aftercare, which is an important step.

I really enjoyed seeing this relationship blossom and each of these characters grow, individually and together. I’ve never been happier to stumble upon a new author and cannot wait to see what other relationships Cunningham writes us.

Published by Noelle Loves Books

Growing up, Japanese and Indigenous, it was hard to find books that showcased stories and worlds that accurately portrayed Noelle’s experiences. Fantasy quickly became her main love, as you could really be anyone, anywhere. As the years went on, and technology grew, Noelle was finally able to see more stories and authors that looked and felt like her. Noelle is open to all genre’s though she can mostly be found reading own voice, fantasy, and romance. Ratings: 5 Stars: Completely blew me away 4 Stars: Loved the story but didn't feel completely blown away by it 3 Stars: Liked the overall concept of the story but either had poor execution, had a lot of plot holes, or was written poorly 2 Stars: I struggled to understand the plot, poorly written, or just had really unlikeable characters along with a poor writing 1 Star: Horribly written, major plot holes, or extremely unlikeable characters and plots.

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