Let me start off by saying that I hate having to do this. I have really enjoyed previous books from Adriane Leigh, and she is such a nice person. That being said, this book was nothing like I expected and sadly it wasn't for me. I was so excited to read Beautiful Burn after I first heard about it, and teacher student forbidden romance stories are definitely one of my guilty pleasures. While I did finish this book, I had a lot of issues with it. I would recommend that if you don't want anything spoiled that you go ahead and stop reading. I don't think it would be fair to say I had problems and not give examples of what didn't work for me, and that could lead to some parts of this story being revealed that readers might not want to know about going into the book.
Auburn Lawrence and Reed West have always had a special connection since they first met. They share a love of reading and writing and can spend hours together just talking. But while they have always felt a pull towards one another, they have never been able to admit their feelings or take a chance on something because Reed was her teacher. Three years pass without them speaking or seeing each other until Auburn returns home over the summer to take care of her sick grandmother. She decides to take a writing course, and Reed ends up being the one in charge. As Auburn and Reed grow close again, their connection seems to be stronger than ever as though they have spent no time apart. But with the age difference as well as him having been her teacher, things still aren't easy for them. They can't fight their feelings though, and soon their summer is filled with passion and they find themselves desperate for one another. But the closer they get, the more there seems to be standing in their way.
I didn't understand Reed other than to say that he was a guy who wanted what he wanted, and was out to take it. He had his sweet and kind moments, and I honestly thought that he did care about Auburn. But he also strung her along while he wouldn't divorce his wife. Yes, the entire summer they are pursuing the connection and passion between them, he is married and won't get a divorce. He and his wife were separated and had been for awhile, yet he wouldn't divorce her and kept telling Auburn that it wasn't the right time for him which didn't make any sense until the end of the book. I honestly thought that he was never going to leave her, and I couldn't make any sense of his actions. Auburn was a bit weak in that she just seemed to put up with it. She let him call all the shots and keep her a secret, and every time she would even think of putting up a fight she would almost instantly relent and give in. She came off as a bit of a doormat and I didn't get it. I also felt that while they had attraction and chemistry and clearly shared a lot in common, that I just didn't really feel the love between them. They had a connection, but it just felt superficial. I think that is because I feel like we really didn't get to truly know either of these characters. They were flat and didn't really seem to have any depth to them at all. I wanted to know more about them, and I just don't feel like we ever got that.
Another issue I had was that it is billed as a teacher student romance, but yet they aren't really teacher and student. He taught her when she was in high school but now they are both well over legal age. She is 21 and turns 22 during the book while he is stated to be 28. She goes to college and is home over summer break where she enrolls in a writing course. The writing course doesn't actually seem to be for credit though or a grade, so to me it just didn't feel like their relationship was as taboo or forbidden as the author was trying to convince us of. Honestly I thought the bigger problem was the fact he was married rather than the age or teacher/student aspect.
I also will say that I had a huge problem with the ending. I know that this is Adriane Leigh's story to tell and that a lot of people will find the ending heartbreaking yet beautiful. But to me, it was unsatisfying and it made me mad. I felt like I had wasted so much time and emotions getting to this point where things would finally turn around, only to have the rug pulled out from under me. The silver lining in the ending felt too little to me while my heart was still lying on the ground from where the author had just ripped it out of my chest and discarded it. I read romance, and I want a happy ending. It doesn't have to be perfect, but for me this one took me by complete surprise and I didn't find it happy at all. I think had I known what I was getting into with this story that I probably wouldn't have read it. It was sad, and felt like a ton of angst and hype for nothing. I never expected things to go the way they did, and I really felt like this was so different from the blurb and what I had been lead to believe this was about. Clearly there are plenty of others out there that felt differently about this book with the higher ratings that I have seen, so you may still want to give this one a shot. But honestly I just couldn't get over all the issues that I had with this story and then the ending pretty much destroyed all the good that I had felt about it. It was nice that this was told mostly from Reed's POV though, even if I did feel like we missed out on getting to know Auburn better because of it. I am sure that I will read more from Adriane Leigh in the future since I have liked other books by her, this just wasn't the one for me.
**ARC Provided by Between the Sheets Promotions**
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