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REVIEW: The Fireman Who Loved Me by Jennifer Bernard

Dear Ms. Bernard:

The romance of this story was enjoyable but the sweet and sometimes serious nature of the romance was offset by over the top descriptions of the “villains” of the story creating a cacophonous tone mismatch. A late conflict arose in the book and while it could have provided a challenging and very real impediment to the happy ever after (and thus making the connection of the lead couple all the more satisfying)

Fireman who loved me jennifer bernardMelissa McGuire ends up in San Gabriel working as a news producer at the local television station after being humiliated in Los Angeles. She had an affair with her boss that went south

Her grandmother is convinced that Melissa needs a boyfriend and buys a date for Melissa with a fireman at a local bachelor auction. When the bachelor fireman backs out because of a desire not to go out on a date with a grandmother, Captain Harry Brody takes his place. Brody is used to acting as the father figure to many of the younger firemen and conversely they all hold Brody in awe because of his steadfastness and his past history of bravery.

Brody isn’t interested in dating right now. He’s trying to rebuild his life after a painful divorce but Melissa strikes all the right chords for him. The two end up spending a lot of time together when the local media personality, Ella, (one of the villains) decides to do a reality special involving the San Gabriel Fire Station. The Fire Station is famous because the all bachelor crew was featured on the Today Show and in People magazine.

Brody is a really great hero. He’s unshakeable. There is a scene early on in the book where Melissa is relating all her assumptions about firemen and Brody doesn’t rise to the bait:

“I apologize if I was rude,” she said, nose in the air.

“Not at all.”

“So you don’t deny I’m right?”

“Why should I, when you seem so convinced that you are?”

Now those emerald sparks were firing again.

“You could at least try to defend yourself.”

“Are we in a battle? I thought this was a date.” “You . . .”

She gave a squeak of pure frustration.

“Don’t you ever get rattled?”

“It’s part of my job to not get rattled.”

His character was consistent throughout. The steadying hand, the leader, the guy who watches out for others. Melissa was observant, as befitting her role as a news producer, and a quick learner. She led her tribe of news people in her own way. She was quick to make amends, didn’t hold grudges, and allowed herself to be educated.

Brody and Melissa were the best parts of the book but we saw so little of them together that the romance and their interaction took a back seat to the atmosphere of the firehouse, the backstabbing news room, and the machinations of the villains–Ella and Melissa’s former boss, Everett. Ordinarily, in a straight contemporary, I wouldn’t identify people as villains but from the way in which two of the characters were written, they fit the profile perfectly. I am pretty sure one, if not both of them, twirled a virtual mustache after every encounter.  For instance, Everett is using Ella to get back at Melissa and Ella is trying to use Everett to get a better job.  Their sexual encounters, which are often degrading for Ella, are described in some detail.

There was little relationship conflict other than standard and heavy handed use of the big misunderstanding until the last third of the book which is probably why so much of the first part of the story was filled with non relationship story lines but the relationship conflict was one that could have provided a real challenge. Brody’s ex wife returns to his life with a child in tow. It isn’t his, but Brody had always wanted a family and he can’t turn his ex wife who needs him away. The way in which this storyline is resolved, however, is written with the same over the top narrative used with the villains. The tension in the story seemed too manufactured and while I liked the leads, they weren’t together enough on paper to keep me interested. C

Best regards, Jane

P.S. As a side note, I am not one for sequel baiting, but this book did the opposite. Ryan, the lead in the sequel to this book, bails on the date with the grandmother because he fears the teasing he will get from his fellow firefighters. He also takes a shine to the empty headed and mean spirited Ella displaying that he is turned by a pretty face and not much else. He came off as self centered, shallow, and a bit of a simpleton.

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Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

11 Comments

  1. Ridley
    May 20, 2012 @ 13:47:25

    I am surprised this was published by Avon. That cover said “self-published” to me.

  2. Tina
    May 20, 2012 @ 14:06:19

    I agree with this review 100%. It felt almost like all the additional people in the book — Ella Joy, the two exes, and even her grandmother in some cases — all felt like they existed solely to create conflict for the main couple. There was no internal conflict so all this external stuff needed to be throw in.

    There was also a subplot with Melissa working on a ‘serious, hard-hitting’ story in order to prove her worth to her superiors and to get away from babysitting Ella Joy. Except she kept forgetting about it for what felt like long stretches,at least until the subject of the story would call and say ‘yoo-hoo, I’m still here…”. The inclusion of that subplot felt superfluous.

    That said, there was still some charm to the story so a ‘C’ is exactly right.

    Re: the cover, it does not look 100% professional, I agree. But when I saw it, it immediately reminded me of the cover of Kristan Higgins’ Catch of the Day

  3. leslie
    May 20, 2012 @ 14:53:16

    I saw this book at my local library. I put it back after reading 3 dreadful pages.

  4. Sarah
    May 20, 2012 @ 17:32:10

    This book on the whole was pretty awful for me but I did like Harry. I wish he had had a better match in the book. I am 100% with you on the turn of the sequel baiting though. I was incredibly turned-off by Ryan’s actions in this book (though I felt Harry was just wonderful in regards to planning a date an older woman would appreciate). I had no desire to read the next book to begin with but Ryan’s actions just solidified that.

  5. meoskop
    May 20, 2012 @ 18:58:31

    It’s a DNF for me, totally struggling with it.

  6. Jayne
    May 21, 2012 @ 06:18:28

    @meoskop: I couldn’t finish it either. Grandma seemed like she would be a cutesy problem whenever the plot needed that, Ella was obviously going to be trouble and as so many have said Ryan did nothing for me. Then the whole premise of the “bachelor fire station” as sequel bait only made me roll my eyes.

  7. Danielle D
    May 21, 2012 @ 07:52:52

    I agree with the rating…I enjoyed the book but didn’t love it. I was looking forward to Ryan’s story and after reading it I was highly disappointed.

  8. Camille
    May 22, 2012 @ 11:15:14

    It was a DNF for me as well. Harry was good enough and I enjoyed the grandmother talking to her husband who’d passed but everything else was just awful and contrived to me.

  9. Beth
    Jun 16, 2012 @ 07:27:51

    I loved this book! I have to admit I’ve never really been interested in romance novels, but my Mom has been for years. She had this book and the cover intrigued me. I couldn’t put it down. So, I have to disagree. I’ve already ordered the second book and can’t wait for it to arrive.

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