Reviewed: August 26, 2013
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Series: Firefighter, Book 3
Rating: 4 Stars
Length: 352 Pages
Formats: Print, eBook
Disclosure: An ARC of this book was provided to me by Forever Yours publisher Grand Central Publishing/Hachette Book Group via NetGalley.
This rating, review, and all included thoughts and comments are my own.
He was her best friend. She was his world. Then tragedy struck and tore Summer Abrams' life apart. Crippled by grief and forged by loss, Summer ran from her hometown of Ocean Beach. She ran from the loss of her father. She ran from the suffocating emotion of her family. She ran from the strength and importance of her friendship with Joe Walker. She ran, and never stopped running. Then the call came.
Twelve years after the warehouse fire that irrevocably altered her life, the beast has struck again. The first time drove Summer away. The second brought her home.
She hadn't expected her return to OB to be easy, not after so many years, but her family's chilly reception still hurts. Summer is determined to reconnect with them, to reforge the bonds she had once cut so cleanly no matter how uncomfortable she is with the effort. She's just as determined to reconnect with her former best friend Joe, who has grown into a fine specimen of manhood.
The longer she stays in town, however, the more she feels pushed out the door. Her mom certainly doesn't seem to want her around, and Joe, now a fire marshal and investigating the fire that brought her back, is no more welcoming. Maybe it's been too long. Maybe time doesn't heal all wounds.
When another fire breaks out and almost takes Summer's life with it, she is forced to face another grim possibility. Maybe her return has stirred up ghosts that someone is desperate to let lie. Maybe, just maybe someone she loves wants her gone...permanently.
I've pretty much come to the conclusion that if a book has Jill Shalvis' name on it, I'm going to enjoy the read. Of course some books I like more than others, but the sheer consistency of entertainment her books provide sets Shalvis apart and is a large part of why she's one of my favorite authors. And this re-release of a 2005 title just goes to show she's been good for a long time.
The sticky widget with re-releases is whether or not they'll feel dated. That can quickly ruin a read for me. Fortunately, that wasn't a problem here. The big reveal during the book's climax felt a little old-school and a trifle cliched because of it, but nothing really struck me as completely anachronistic.
This book has a much stronger suspense plotline than I was expecting. I'm used to, and love, Shalvis' contemporary romance novels, especially the Lucky Harbor series (which absolutely should not be missed), but they're lighter than this one so the emotional depth and darker elements in this story took me by surprise. That doesn't mean I didn't enjoy it. I love romantic suspense, and felt this was a solid example of one.
I fell hard and fast for the fabulous Joe Walker. Shalvis sure didn't go easy on the poor guy, but he's a great character. His horrible childhood and the emotional detritus from his struggles with weight as a teen made him such a sympathetic hero. And I'm a total sucker for a guy who's loved a girl his whole life, even after she ripped his heart out. The fact that he is now a totally hot, if often emotionally unavailable firefighter was just icing on a very delicious cake. Sexy, strong, and oh-so-endearing, I adored everything about him.
Summer, on the other hand, was a bit of a harder pill to swallow. My feelings about her are far more complicated. On one hand, I appreciated her for her flaws and damage. I find flawed and/or damaged characters intrinsically more interesting and believable than their picture-perfect counterparts. Not necessarily more likable, just more interesting. Summer definitely wasn't always likable.
In fact, through most of the book she struck me as wounded but selfish with it, and her self-involvement was often cruel, albeit unintentionally so. I felt for her yearning for family bonds and struggle to fit in, but shuddered at her casual dismissal of Joe's plainly-spoken boundaries and the legitimate reasons for them. Too many times and for too long into the story I felt Joe deserved a lot more than Summer was willing or able to give. And emotional cowards have always been a major turn off to me. That made it hard to really embrace her in her romantic role, even though I heartily appreciated those flaws in regards to her family issues and the suspense elements of the plot.
I had some minor quibbles with one or two other elements of the story, and I was a little disappointed that Joe and Summer's fight before the first fire was never really addressed, but mostly I was thoroughly entertained by this book and totally smitten with Joe. I haven't read the preceding books in the series, but can happily say that had no impact at all. This read like a stand-alone novel. Of course, I want to read those preceding books, but that has less to do with them being a part of this series and everything to do with that name on the cover. They're Jill Shalvis books. A guaranteed good time.
Do you have any thoughts, feelings, and/or questions about this review?
This is your chance to express yourself. I would love to hear from you!