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Firefighter

REVIEW:  One Fine Fireman by Jennifer Bernard

REVIEW: One Fine Fireman by Jennifer Bernard

Dear Ms. Bernard:

Maribel Boone is the subject of fireman Kirk’s unrequited longing. The big guy, known as Thor for his size and blonde good looks, is tongue tied around his crush, barely able to speak more than a few words to her. It’s hard to court someone when you are only saying eight words at a time.

It’s not like he was saying anything Kirk hadn’t told himself a million times, lying awake, sick from chemo, his surgical wounds throbbing. He’d formulated the words many times. “Would you please meet me after work? I have something important to tell you.” But as soon as he’d seen her today, with that delicious Titian-red hair in an unruly pile on her head, her dreamy hazel eyes widening with surprise at his compliment, the telltale color coming and going in her apple-round cheeks, he’d gone mute, as he always did.
Maribel left him speechless. Which didn’t give him much of a chance to bare his heart to her.

Maribel has been dating the same guy for years. She’s been engaged to him for years but he’s never set a date. Maribel has been content in this situation, raising her son, Pete, and having her fiancé, Duncan, visit when he can take time away from his celebrity photography business. Maribel wonders why Duncan choose her over all the beautiful women to whom he has access. Unacknowledged is the ego boost Maribel receives being this famous man’s fiancé. (She calls it awe, but I don’t think that’s quite the right emotion) That’s about the only reason why I think Maribel must continue her relationship with Duncan particularly when she finds him boring and how he belittles her amateur photograph attempts.

One Fine Fireman by Jennifer BernardPart of the story is told from Pete’s point of view. He, of course, hates Duncan whom he perceives as fake. He doesn’t want to move to NYC. He wants a dog and he wants to fix bikes with Fireman Kirk.

Maribel spends much of the story engaged to Duncan yet spending intimate moments with Kirk and being embarrassed about her crush on him. Her tepid feelings toward Duncan and her much warmer feelings toward Kirk made me impatient. When Maribel is longing to know what the texture and a feel of a kiss from Kirk would be like but not questioning her feelings toward marriage, it’s obvious to the reader it is time for her to move on. Her awareness of this doesn’t arrive until later.

This was a novella and the usage of Pete as a narrator and the existence of a fiancé for a good portion of the story left the romance between the two main protagonists without much meat. Throw in Kirk’s status as a cancer survivor and a suspense scene and it was really too much in such a short space.

What did work well were the characterizations and the sweet tone of the story. C

Best regards,

Jane

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REVIEW:  After the Storm by Amy Knupp

REVIEW: After the Storm by Amy Knupp

Dear Ms. Knupp:

I struggled to connect to your characters from the opening scene when Nadia Hamlin endangered the lives of rescue personnel to go back into a hurricane zone to retrieve a business file. Penn Griffin, a guy who tried to date her but was constantly stood up because of business decisions. After their one aborted date ended with her running out on Penn before the entrees were delivered, Penn had stopped his pursuit. Of course, her image has “haunted” him ever since. Why? Because she is hot? Why would you be haunted by a chick who is so selfish she couldn’t even manage to call afterward and apologize. When Penn blows up at her and then apologizes, she doesn’t acknowledge his apology for days. She’s just too busy.

After the Storm Amy KnuppI’m supposed to feel sorry for Nadia or empathize with her because she is doing her best to keep her business afloat. She’s even given up her enjoyable pursuit of casual dating which I guess is what she was doing with Penn. I just found her tiresome and irritating and I didn’t really understand why Penn would want to pursue her. Isn’t there any one else on the island he could date?

Penn injures his back trying to rescue Nadia and he is forced to have back surgery. Penn’s portrayed as having real anger issues associated with his recovery and pain. Instead of sympathizing with him, I winced at every angry statement yelled and every temper thrown.  He allowed himself almost no time to recovery and for the majority of the book was determined to look at the glass as broken and leaking let alone just half full.

Where this story is going is painfully obvious. Nadia will learn the important lesson of settling down and taking it easy and Penn will learn to find new meaning in life when not being a firefighter. But it’s a downer of a book. Even the texts that the two exchange are depressing instead of cute and fun. The lack of levity meant that Penn’s moroseness associated with his loss of dream and Nadia’s grasping attempts to keep her hotel above water just wore me down.

There’s something I’d rather not talk about but need to say…

He stared at the screen, waiting for her to continue. Curious as all get-out but unwilling to prompt her to spill it.

Finally, another message appeared. Kiss was a bad move on my part.

So. Add “direct” to Nadia’s list of qualities. And thankfully, not a hopeless romantic.

He weighed his reply carefully. So many wrong things he could say without even meaning to.

He settled for: Not a big deal.

I know you’ve got way more important things on your mind.

Every last one of which sucked. None of which he cared to spend his time thinking about. Before he could figure out a response, his phone buzzed again.

Won’t happen again. Not that I don’t like you. Just that we both seem overwhelmed right now. Me with work, you with your back. Did you know it’s possible to babble via text message? ;)

Toward the end there is a reversal of circumstances wherein work prevents Penn from keeping a commitment with Nadia.  Her response surprised me. It wasn’t understanding. Or laughter. Or recognition of her own past behavior. It was “If he thought she was going to honor their last-minute dinner plans, he was sadly mistaken.”  But that was Nadia.  Her single minded focus was purportedly on the hotel but it’s really about the preservation of her own dreams.  What happened toward the end, however, was her having to readjust her dreams much like Penn had to.  Her obtuseness in recognizing their similarities was just as maddening as the glacier pace of the book.  C-

Best regards,

Jane

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