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This book had good potential, that's why I have it teetering on 3 stars. The main characters were really likeable. The chemistry was there, but there was still something missing. At times this book was good and then it would go boring. It was almost too long. There was too much going on and it overshadowed the main story. There was too much emphasis on Ella. I really didn't like Ella and I didn't really want to read that much about her. I understood her place in the story, but it was too much. I didn't quite understand bringing in the exes either. The exes were a little pointless, it was almost as if there needed to be a conflict to solve and that's what the author picked. I was a little baffled by the fact that Ella and Everett were given the hot sex scene. Why? They weren't the main characters and I really didn't care about them. They had a hotter scene than Brody and Melissa. Then there was the child abuse case. If that part of the story was so important, there should have been closure for it. We were never really given the outcome of that story. I know the kids were placed elsewhere, the foster parent charged, but there was still no story. Melissa was able to use it as a negotiation, but that was it. I liked the Nelly story and the estranged father story, but I wish there would have been a little more background on those. Those two characters had some kind of involvement in the relationship of Brody and Melissa, but there wasn't enough elaboration on them. I think the problem was too many storylines and there wasn't enough focus on the H and h.
Stepping outside your "reading comfort box" is a good thing. It sharpens your reader's sensibilities, and sometimes you discover a hidden gem. The other side of the coin is that you may also end up a disappointed reader when the story line that held appeal is diffused by a less than satisfactory completed book. "The Fireman Who Loved Me" has an entertaining premise: Meddling, matchmaking grandmother arranges a "date" with a Bachelor Auction Fireman for her career-minded granddaughter. The original fireman takes a powder, leaving his commander to fulfill the obligation. The chief thinks he will be escorting an elderly lady, and he gets a shock to the system when his date turns out to be the lovely young woman with whom he had a brief, but opinionated encounter at the auction. News producer Melissa McGuire left behind a boss who broke her heart and a high-profile producing job to care for her ailing Granny Nelly. Working at a small-time local TV station is working on her nerves, and she is not looking for romance, especially with a heroic hunk. Captain Harry Brody, admired by many for his cool and calm command in the heat of disaster, is still hurting over a bitter divorce. His wife left him for another man, and Harry is unprepared for the force of attraction he feels for the outspoken, gorgeous, green-eyed Melissa. This is definitely a "sparks-fly" contemporary erotic romance, with plenty of humor. There are also some serious subplots which could have been handled with more care. I do read a wide variety of genres, but I was not comfortable with some of the sexual content of this book. In all honesty, had I been aware of the direction that the sexual content would take, I would not have selected this book. Author Jennifer Bernard also writes erotica under the pseudonym "Juniper Bell".
Part of the reason I love romance novels is that they're great to relax with. Not every romance novel is fun, but the majority are. It's not a genre that takes itself seriously, which is fine by me. I saw a book titled THE FIREMAN WHO LOVED ME and thought it would be a great way to spend an afternoon. Hard-hitting newswoman meets rugged fire captain? Bring it on.
The first chapter turned me off. Melissa McGuire's beloved grandmother Nelly brings her to a charity bachelor fireman auction. While we're in Nelly's point-of-view, she has nothing nice to say about the women buying dates through the auction. Her granddaughter is an angel, but all those women are tramps. Then Nelly ponders why all of Melissa's relationships go awry. "Because--she didn't know what to look for. She went for the artsy type, graduate students and wannabe film directors, the kind of man more interested in finishing his thousand-page novel than in knowing how to treat a woman. (p. 5, ARC)" Now, I'm fine with the romance obsession with alpha males. It's often more enjoyable to read about people with forceful personalities. But that doesn't mean there's nothing appealing about arty men. (And I find it hard not to equate film directors with an alpha personality.) Besides, it's not true. Melissa's ex that makes an appearance in the story is also in the news business. He's a legend that dazzles women and knows all their secret sexual desires. Not an arty dreamer at all. Nelly bothered me throughout the novel. She's supposed to be a charming, endearing old lady, but I did not find her antics to be either of those things.
Other elements worked better. When the story focused on Melissa and Harry Brody falling for each other, it was terrific. The two crazy kids can't keep their hands off each other, there's so much chemistry between them. But the story kept going away from them to focus on what Ella Joy, an anchor at Melissa's news station, was doing. Ella has no less than two love interests and a redemptive character arc. I think she had more character development than either of the leads! And because of the overgrown side plots involving Ella, the bits with Harry and Melissa separately seemed underdeveloped.
Harry has a lot of good qualities. He looks out for the men of his fire station, watching their backs in an emergency and counseling them during downtime. He's good with his hands and is renovating his own home. He has bad qualities too. He finds Melissa's father and hires him to help fix the house so that he can learn about Melissa's past without asking her. No one ever mentions that this is an incredibly creepy thing to do. He's also got baggage from his first marriage, which isn't good or bad - but does leave an ex-wife to come sniffing around and mess with the budding relationship.
Melissa wants to work on meaty, muckraking journalism rather than the fluffy pieces she produces for The Sunny Side of the News. She used to do that in LA, but something destroyed her confidence. (As usually happens, the dark, unsavory past she doesn't like to talk about isn't all that dark and unsavory once it's revealed. It would mess with your head, though.) Now, she has her chance due to a child contacting her about a possible abuse scandal in the foster care system. Too bad he keeps being forgotten due to all the side plots. THE FIREMAN WHO LOVED ME is such a silly book that the child abuse is a little jarring whenever it comes up. And it's disconcerting that it keeps being forgotten.
There are the bones of a good romance in THE FIREMAN WHO LOVED ME. Jennifer Bernard knows how to write two characters falling in lust and love. She just needs to write a book about two characters beginning a relationship, instead of two characters surrounded by a heap of silliness and bad decisions.
3.0 out of 5 starsToo cluttered, needs more romance
Reviewed in the United States on 25 April 2012
This was probably a bad idea even before I started reading. My brother is a fireman and I guarantee you, there are not a lot of hot bachelors just sitting around his firehouse. I've met one that I'd call "interesting," but he was older than me and frankly, that would make him prehistoric. I have to give it to the author, she did get a lot of the technical stuff right but the rest of the story was tangled, cluttered and a little lacking in romance.
Melissa McGuire's grandmother is tired of waiting for her stop seeing men who are all wrong for her and is taking the bull by the horns - or the hose - and is going to buy her a date at the auction of the Bachelor Firemen of San Gabriel. Maybe Nelly wasn't quite...clear when she asked Melissa to meet her at the hotel for her birthday that this would be a beefcake auction, but what's a grandmother to do when she needs to get her granddaughter settled down? Melissa turns tail and never sees Nelly plunk down a huge amount of money on the supremely gorgeous Ryan who is a little, uh, dismayed at the thought of a date with a woman of her vintage, not knowing the date is for Melissa.
Ryan puts on the puppy dog eyes until his Captain finally agrees to take the date in his place. Harry Brody is a bit of a legend, known for his calm in the face of danger and the fact that he's never lost a man. He's shocked - pleased - when he finds out the date is with Melissa, although his plans included the Senior Specials. The thing is, as attracted as they are to each other, they also manage to push each other's buttons and they go from biting each other's heads off to sucking each other's faces off. No happy medium. Then into their relationship, a million complications arise and that's where the plot went haywire.
Melissa is a television news producer at a small-market station and her main job seems to be corralling the high-maintenance, rather trampy anchor Ella. Ella pretty much becomes Melissa's shadow for the story, hanging out with her at the firehouse where one of the major plotlines develops then for two more at the television station where more drama is happening. I didn't like her - if she had to be the villain, fine. She still didn't need to be everywhere especially when you added in large appearances by Harry's ex-wife and Melissa's sleazy ex-boss. Then there's a started, dropped, picked up, dropped and picked up news story that Melissa was supposedly passionate about that was pretty important. I can give you another half dozen semi-significant storylines that also were running, all at the same time Harry and Melissa's story was going on.
I really could have liked Harry and Melissa's romance if it had been allowed to develop outside of all of the noise of the rest of the story. Harry was my kind of hero - not too alpha but strong enough to know how to be. He's kind, caring, loyal and protective by nature and yummy and sexy without even trying. I liked Melissa too - she was good at her job and at managing Ella without her figuring it out. She'd had a big blow to her ego and took a lot of things too personally but she made it all better nicely. They just never had time for romance. It was, "you're a pain," to "you make me hot," to "let's have sex all the time," to the bad stuff to the good stuff. No sweet romance, no fun times talking. The air was sucked out of the story by everyone else.
If I knew the next book in the series focused more on the couple and had far, far fewer distractions, I'd probably pick it up because I did like the way the author wrote the couple. I just could not enjoy this one because I was constantly distracted by all of the other stuff happening, mostly Ella. I'll even let it go that there are no scuzzy-looking guys in this firehouse and they don't swear like sailors or tell morbid jokes, just please give me some romance!
3.0 out of 5 starsWriting is a five but did not like a plot point
Reviewed in the United States on 15 May 2012
To start, the writing was great. Really easy to read. You really liked the characters and was fun. You got very attached to them. I was thoroughly enjoying the book. Here is the reason it was a 3 for me though...spoiler alert...something sad happened in the end. It wasn't between the hero and heroine, but I read these romances to have a nice, enjoyable and relaxing time. I don't want to get teary at the end. I just didn't feel that this sad part needed to be in it...it could have worked the same without it. Now plenty of people like the sadness and drama will be just fine with it, but I want to be smiling throughout the whole book. I would be willing to read another of hers if it does not contain a sad part.