Water and Fire by Demelza Carlton

This is a novella, and I was pleased to see that the author presents it as such; too many authors are selling short stories as novels and disappointing the reader. That being said, I absolutely loved this story, and I will definitely buy the next one in the series. Now, I do not wish to give away any spoilers, but this story does not end the way I expected it to end, and some readers might object to the ending. I, however, after the first shock, liked it very much. I expect to see the characters in future novels by Ms. Carlton.

I am not a reader of contemporary novels. I have always loved other worlds and other time periods better than the present, so I picked up this story with trepidation. I need not have worried. I was soon caught up in the character’s story, the setting, and the romance. Belinda is nursing a deep, personal loss as she works to finish her training as a nurse-midwife in an Australian hospital. There she meets a new intern who is immensely appealing as a character in both his vulnerability and his persistence. Aidan is very different from the usual romantic hero. He is not portrayed as handsome, dashing, and confident, but he definitely quickly earned himself a place in my affections. I liked him very much. I also found humor in the character of Lin, the nursing student. Belinda herself is a complex character that leaves the reader wondering about her story and wanting more.

The story moves fast and is extremely well written. The sexy scenes are beautifully done with emphasis on emotions and romance. This is the first novel I have read in a long time where the lovers spend days in bed, but the size of the man’s penis is never mentioned. I absolutely recommend this novella. I would offer a word of caution as to younger readers since the topic of prostitution may not be appropriate for them.

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