Burn the Brightest is a short story originally published as part of Storm Moon Press’ Cast the Cards Anthology. From what I understand, each story in the anthology was inspired by or incorporated cards from the Tarot and contained a number of GLBT variations – f/f, m/m, m/f/m. It would have been interesting to see how other authors incorporated the theme. For this story, the author chose not to incorporate a paranormal or speculative storyline, focusing, instead, on the rocky start of a romance between Edith and Jo and was firmly rooted in realities of the pain of Edith’s past and the impacts of Jo’s naval career on their relationship.
As a standalone story, I would have preferred to not have the introduction notes introducing the concept of the Fool in the Tarot. The first time I read it, I was unsure of how the theme had been incorporated. I ended up re-reading it several times, considering the elements that the Fool embodies against the story and the characters of Edith and Jo – normally I read rather than dissect, but it was interesting to put my thinking cap on and dredge my memory of the Tarot and how I might interpret the Fool against the story.
Edith is a woman who keeps the world at arm’s length, afraid of connecting with anyone who may cause her more emotional pain. Unlike the Fool, she is unwilling to make a leap of faith or take a chance. Firmly resolved to never get involved with anyone in the military, Edith meets Jo at a friend’s birthday and she begins to find her barriers and reservations breaking down under Jo’s gentle courtship.
From a technical standpoint, I had issues with awkward sentence structure and the jumping from scene to scene. A bit more depth and insight into the characters and their motivations may have smoothed things out a bit more.
All in all, this is not the story that I expected – this is a gentle romance rather than erotica and it gave me some food for thought as I read it. The ending is poignant and a bit ambiguous, which I rather like in a short story.
Here’s a link to the anthology: http://www.stormmoonpress.com/series/Cast-the-Cards.aspx