Set the Night on Fire
Laura Trentham’s world of Cottonbloom is one of my current favorites in contemporary romance. It’s a fictional town, half in Mississippi and half in Louisiana, and there’s a vast socioeconomic difference between the two halves, as well as an overlapping history between its citizens. Set the Night on Fire is the sixth work set in this world, and I certainly hope it’s not the last.
Mack Abbott loves his life… sort of. He loves working at the garage he owns with his brothers, and he loves living in Cottonbloom. What he doesn’t love is that his brother Ford has sold his share of their garage to a stranger and has since disappeared. Mack loves it even less when he discovers Ford sold the shares to Ella Boudreaux.
Ella has finally left her degenerate, yet well-connected husband and is striking out on her own. Even though her husband has been taking credit for all their real estate success, Ella is the true brains behind the operation and intends to set up proper shop in Cottonbloom. Buying Ford Abbott’s shares of the garage, therefore, is just the beginning. What she can’t get Mack to believe, however, is that she doesn’t want to change anything about the garage, except their accounting software.
The two spar until they make out, because that’s how it works in an enemies-to-lovers tale, and are making their way towards a productive relationship when the degenerate ex shows back up. This is where I insert trigger warnings for domestic violence, because Ella’s ex-husband is bad news. To unpack anything else tips a little too much into spoilers, so I’ll leave Ella’s story there.
Mack’s story, when he’s not busy falling for Ella, is about his absentee mama. The four Abbott boys were raised by their father after their mother split town, and her absence is the seething wound in this family and is something that Mack, in particular, must resolve before he can move forward with Ella. When that need combines with a lead on Ford’s location, a story that’s been building for three books enters a new phase and I was so very glad that Ms. Trentham took her time with it.
The Cottonbloom books always feel like biographies to me – I have no idea what it’s like to live in the Deep South, but if you told me it was like this, I wouldn’t be surprised. I’m always happy to check in on the folks of the other books, but Ms. Trentham does an incredible job of making each book a stand-alone if necessary. I’d recommend reading them in order, since the first three are about a sibling set and the last three have been as well (are we getting Ford’s story soon, please and thank you?!), but it’s not necessary.
If you’re in the mood for an enemies-to-lovers story with grounded characters who find love in themselves and each other, with a heaping side of sexytimes, then pick up Set the Night On Fire.