Passion Ignites: A Sizzling Review of “Embers” by Claire Kent

An age-gap romance story is not for everyone, but if there is one novel to set an example of how it should be written, “Embers” must be a strong contender. While the early phase of the narrative might seem too coincidental, everything else hits the mark on believability, sexiness, intensity, and, of course, awkwardness.

The story kicks off with Rachel and her boyfriend, Derek. Both are trying to navigate the world’s end through a collapsed society. A crumbling town is no place to survive, so they must get out as fast as possible. Soon enough, they bump into Derek’s long-estranged father, Cal. For much of Derek’s life until the moment, Cal has been absent. Her mother kept them separated for fear that the father exerted all sorts of bad influence on the son.

Cal is an ex-convict with an ugly past. That said, he seems alright now and has never found himself on the wrong side of the law again. Since his release from prison, Cal spends his days living in a small one-bedroom cabin on the mountain out of town. He is an old man from pre-apocalypse days, rough around the edges, hard on himself, and he looks confused more often than not.

The novel gives a simple time jump to the point where Derek dies. Rachel has nowhere else to go. A teenager wandering all alone in a post-apocalyptic world is nothing but an invitation for atrocious, if not desperate, people to do horrible things. She is staying in the cabin, trying to survive and cope with an old shady character. The situation is neither comfortable nor ideal for the two of them, but, everyone is only trying to survive by making the best of what they have. Adjustments come slowly, but the process allows Rachel to soften the man, while Cal teaches her to be more resilient.

Embers introduce several more time jumps – perhaps to spare readers from unnecessary details and actually make the story believable – but the relationship between Rachel and Cal grows naturally. It doesn’t seem rushed or forced. One praise-worthy technical aspect of the novel is that the story still flows well despite its multiple time jumps. All the major points are there, delivered with good transitions in between and no useless filler.  

It is an age-gap romance involving teenage Rachel and the old man Cal. Interestingly enough, Rachel speaks and behaves unlike most teenagers do. The apocalypse might have something to do with her characteristics. Still, the important thing is that she handles difficulties well, at least for a young person who has just seen and escaped an apocalyptic event. Rachel is thoughtful, kind, and intelligent. In fact, her communication skill plays a crucial role in developing an exciting dynamic in the cabin.

A good combination of the survival narrative and how the characters interact with each other makes the large age gap (Cal is at least 20 years older than Rachel) less of a concern. The difference in level of maturity helps propel an enjoyable character development. The story gradually turns into an exercise of self-discovery rather than a struggle for survival. All the horrors typically associated with a post-apocalyptic world, including lack of resources, killing, hunger, diseases, and violence are all put aside in favor of a benign yet awkward journey of an unlikely romance. Progress is often uneventful but nowhere near dreary.

And then the inevitable reveals itself. A man and a woman, unrelated and both heterosexuals, live together and are reliant on each other. Attractions and affections grow even under an undeniably uncomfortable circumstance. When Rachel makes advances to accept and explore her feelings, Cal takes a step back and threads carefully into the situation. She is young enough to be her daughter; before all of this she was indeed his late son’s girlfriend. Cal tries to curb his own feelings, as he feels there is too much of a hindrance to make the relationship work. However, the sexual tension turns out to be just equally great to restrain. Time goes on, and resistance is proven futile.

Once the amorousness happens, Embers does not shy away from many NSFW talks. If in previous sections time jumps are necessary to reduce lengthy details, the love-making parts are delivered with steamy expositions like nothing else matters. Cal is not a perfect gentleman. Rachel never has to choose him as a love partner, but she does anyway for her own reasons. Again, the age gap never stands in the love’s way and certainly the eroticism that comes with it. By focusing on a love story, Embers offers a different take on the post-apocalyptic genre with its steamy, daring, and lustful trip of the most unlikely couple.

We think Embers is without a doubt an unconventional journey into a post-apocalyptic story. When most novels of the subgenre are filled with the adventures and hardship of survival, Embers comes along to give a different excitement. Instead of telling tales of deaths and disasters, it gives post-apocalyptic fans a refreshing change of atmosphere within the same ruined-world scenery. As far as world-building is concerned, the novel still follows the tried-and-true formula made of unforgiving and griping backdrops, which somehow makes every amorous encounter feel more romantic.

Have you read Embers? How does it compare to the “Last Light” novel by the same author? We’d love to hear from you.

Other things you might want to know:

Is Embers part of a novel series?

It is part of “Kindled” novel series by Claire Kent. The series comprises 5 books, including:

  1. Haven
  2. Princess
  3. Embers
  4. Hero
  5. Citadel

What are Claire Kent’s other popular novel series?

Escorted series:

  1. Escorted
  2. Breaking

Hold series:

  1. Hold
  2. Release
  3. Fall
  4. Rise

Popular stand-alone novels by Claire Kent:

  • Last Light
  • Taking It Off
  • No Regrets
  • Seven
  • Complicated

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