Ah to be seventeen again. What? Oh yes, you mean to be seventeen as seen through the intervening years of misty nostalgia. Think back to what it was really like and remind yourself of that fact next time you get misty eyed about youth. You really only need to be seventeen once.
I am sure that some genuinely enjoyed being seventeen. The type that float through life enjoying each and every stage. For others like myself, things were very different. When I was seventeen, I looked fourteen, and more importantly, had the outlook of a fourteen year old dreamer, yes that was me. Asking me at the time what I wanted to do with the rest of my life usually got a blank look, or if I was really trying, a confused one.
Being seventeen is hard, not easy. There are no manuals, no guides, no words of wisdom. You can’t take short cuts and you invariably can’t ride on the crest of the waves. It isn’t that you make wrong decisions, or right decisions when you are seventeen, or at any age to be fair, it is that decisions are made, and perhaps for the first time in your life you become fully responsible for the fall out from those decisions, good or bad.
You make mistakes, you make errors of judgement, you make insane knee-jerk paths that you know you have no sane right to travel along, but you go along with them anyway. Make enough actions and reactions and life gets complicated, quickly. Basically you fuck up, often your own life, and saddest of all, others around you, particularly those you are close to. But you are young and so you can be forgiven, can’t you?
Braden Lloyd is seventeen. He wants what he wants. He involves himself in what was meant to be a casual ménage a trois. An adventure, an exploration for Braden, but anyone who has experience of these volatile triangles knows that they so often get quickly tangled up in endless loops of wants, needs, and jealousies.
So often in threesomes, whether sexual or otherwise, there is a tendency to squeeze out one in order to make a couple. But what if the third doesn’t bow out gracefully, and what if the desired is torn between loyalty and lust? Welcome to the ménage a trois.
Braden is caught in a threesome between himself, Kyle, and Ryan, three late teenagers who just want to have fun. Things begin to unravel from the start, Braden wants Kyle to himself, Ryan, the boyfriend of Kyle swings between blatant encouragement of Braden and Kyle, to wild jealousy. Kyle of course, is the element that is stuck in the middle, the individual who is pushed and pulled between the two antagonists, and seems unable or unwilling to choose, taking instead a near catatonic stance at times, allowing Braden and Ryan to swing and manoeuvre around him.
I’m not going to go into specifics about the plot, it will spoil the book for you. Suffice to say it is an excellent portrayal of the wants and needs of an individual, and the consequences of putting those wants and needs into action. The fact that the consequences roll over into other books in the series, should perhaps not be a surprise. So many things have a knock-on effect in our lives, the complexity of sex, along with its hand maidens jealousy, obsession, desperation, whether short-lived or not, have an impact on the rest of our lives, whether we want them to or not.
We are always looking at the world from our own perspective, rarely if ever from that of others. Our perspective dominates our thoughts and it guides our actions. We can be at the mercy of our wants and needs, sometimes for our entire lives. But sometimes there are moments in those lives when our ego takes a backseat, when we step down from our own personal agenda, and we try to let go.
Of course, the question needs to be asked in The Burning, does Braden pursue Kyle to the ultimate end, does he let him go, or do events tangle everyone in knots? Well, you will have to read the book in order to find that out, I’m not going to tell you!
The Burning can easily be read as a standalone novel, but I would encourage you to read more about Braden in the published False Start, and Jake’s Fault, and then Paid Up which is due in summer 2017. All the books are sequential and Braden has assured me that we haven’t heard the last of Braden yet.
By the way, I leave it up to you to decide whether Braden Lloyd the protagonist, and Braden Lloyd the writer, are the same people with the same experiences, or whether The Burning is a slide between fiction and fact, not faction as such, but perhaps a form of fiction and fact that has a variable slide between the two.