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REVIEW:  Sex and the Single Fireman by Jennifer Bernard

REVIEW: Sex and the Single Fireman by Jennifer Bernard

Dear Ms. Bernard:

For the record, the first two books didn’t really work for me but I picked this book because I wanted to read about the female firefighter. There were some moments of gentle humor and real hilarity and the romance was sweet.

Jennifer Bernard Sex and the Single FiremanSabina Jones is one of two female firefighters of the San Gabriel firehouse Station 1.  Or the Bachelor firehouse.  The Fire Chief is upset with all the publicity Station 1 has been receiving and feels like it is demeaning to the fire department.

This firehouse has become a national joke. I hear they call you the Bachelor Firemen of San Gabriel. You’ve even been on America’s Next Top Model. Girls infiltrate the premises so they can meet you.

Rick Roman had been brought in as the Battalion Chief and acting training officer for Station 1.

Rick Roman lost his wife in 9/11 who was also a firefighter.  He takes a job with the San Gabriel Fire Department so that his baseball mad son can play baseball year round.  Sabina and Rick enjoy a one night stand only to face each other at Station 1.  That Sabina was a firefighter isn’t the only thing that she is keeping from Roman.  Sabina is actually a famous former child actress, Taffy McGee, who left the movie world behind to pursue a firefighter career.

The conflict is that a) he is her superior and b) he has been brought in to reduce the media attention that surrounds the San Gabriel Firehouse. Worse, Sabina’s old manager wants to do a reunion show which Sabina resists.  But the manager is a manipulative SOB and leaks the information that Sabina is Taffy McGee.  Sabina has to deal with her inappropriate attraction toward Roman (Under her San Gabriel FD T-­shirt, her nipples pushed against her sports bra. He’d seen her naked from the waist up. Oh God. The new training officer knew exactly what her nipples looked like. He knew the sounds she made when she got turned on.), the media attention, and her co workers fascination and disappointment she didn’t share the information earlier.  Oh and that awful B movie she made right before she stopped acting altogether.

I totally dug Sabina whose transformation from child actress who hated the life forced upon her by her mother to firefighter was completely believable. She was competent and the men in her Station respected her.  She gave as good as she got from Roman.

The guys in Station 1 were entertaining – a mix of bravado, vulnerability, and friendship.  Sabina’s best friend is Vader, a big, burly guy who confides in Sabina about his relationship problems.

The one discordant note was the running gag about homophobia in the book.Vader is dating a girl who thinks he is homophobic because he got angry when a gay guy hit on him. The girl has a gay brother.  Vader wants Sabina to vouch for him, which she does, but Sabina also tries to help Vader by taking him to a gay bar.  When the two are there he starts kissing her against her will because he’s scared of all the guys hitting on him. In another scene, Roman’s son tells his father that he beat up another guy who said the father was gay.

I wished that there had been a better discussion of homophobia in the book since the issue was raised.  Being called gay is not the worse thing if you are a man. Being called a rapist or a pedophile might be, but not being gay.  I wish that the son of the hero would have not beat up some kid for calling his father gay because there is nothing wrong with being called gay. That is not a slur (or it shouldn’t be).  That’s the message that Roman should have conveyed to his son and it wasn’t.

I believe the book was trying to make a point that being gay isn’t something to be ashamed of and that the steroid using firefighter who was afraid his own masculinity was being challenged is something of a mockery, but I do think it could have been handled better.

Roman’s plays the role of a jealous beta. It’s hard to explain. He has these neaderthal thoughts but knows better than to voice them.  His thoughts run to the primitive, but his manages to rein them in to act like a  human being:

Sabina’s outgoing message answered the call. Her husky voice told him, “You’ve reached my cell. I’ll get back to you. Eventually.”

Eventually. Not good enough. Savagely, he ended the call without leaving a message. What could he say? If Todd Dane even thinks of asking you out, I’ll beat his ass into the outfield and back again. You come here where you belong. In my bed. I’ll let you out when I’m good and ready.

God, he was a primitive beast of a man. Sabina was an independent, intelligent woman who wouldn’t appreciate playing prey to his hunter. Finesse, Roman, Finesse.

There is also the scene where Roman is fantasizing about Sabina but then remembers that she is in a cast so readjusts his fantasies to take into account her immobility. This scene struck me not only as realistic but humorous.  Roman’s character arc was fairly predictable.  You can guess in the third or so chapter how the workplace conflict will be resolved.  Still, I had a lot of fun visiting with Roman and Sabina and the crew at Station 1.  B

Best regards,



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REVIEW: Spontaneous Combustion by Bobby Hutchinson

REVIEW: Spontaneous Combustion by Bobby Hutchinson

Dear Ms. Hutchinson,

Firefighters are hot sexy thangs, so it’s easy to see why you picked that profession for this installment of the Courage Bay (Code Red) series. Wow, lots of stuff appears to be happening in this small, picturesque SoCal location including two people falling in love while they fight fires, rescue cats and solve an undercover investigation.

Shannon O’Shea is one of only two women in the fire department in Courage Bay, CA. She’s earned her spot though hard work, dedication and being in such top condition that she’s called “Biceps” by her fellow firemen. That and the fact that she arm wrestled, and beat, a fellow probie when his repeated attempts to ask her out annoyed her.

But John Forrester, newly arrived firefighter from NYC, lights her fires and quickly becomes very important to Shannon. She knows there’s something he’s not telling her. Is it related to the two mysterious warehouse fires that occurred? And is what he’s not telling her bad or good?

I love the calls out the squad gets. Some pathos mixed with humans at their hysterical, whacked out best. What people won’t do… The details about the station and the life of the firefighters add depth to the story without becoming a docudrama or dry treatise much less a worshipful kowtowing to the profession. Well done

Shannon’s large and boisterous family take their place in this book rather than taking over this book. Shannon learns some things about her family she never knew and in turn grows up a little. She is smart, a dedicated firefighter and proud of her job. Though entirely human when it comes to enjoying telling stories about the funnier call outs she’s gotten.

The sex is hot – and funny – but with no Bridget Jones pratfalls for humor.

While he was tying his shoes, she went over the routine in her head. Let’s see, she hadn’t done this in a very long while. How did it go again?

You started by saying in a throwaway tone, "Would you like to come in, John? How about some coffee?" And music-’mustn’t forget music. Something slow and moody, with a heavy back beat. Seduction took time, and grace, and deliberation. Did condoms come with an expiration date? The ones she had were probably antiques.

Except John kissed her before he even started the car, and she had trouble getting her breath when he finally revved the engine. She could feel the tension building as they drove the short distance to her house.

She was breathing hard, and she needed to touch him, so she put her hand on his thigh-’lightly, just in case he lost his place-’but she probably wouldn’t have had to. He put his hand on top of hers and moved it farther north. One thing about the guy, he was nothing if not single-minded. And he was wonderfully aroused.

In front of her house, he turned off the car and was kissing her again before the motor even died. They pretty much kissed all the way inside, which made walking hazardous. Shannon had to walk backward and he had to lean forward, which wasn’t up to anybody’s safety standards, especially around corners and on that cursed ramp at the back door, but God, it felt good.

Of course most people don’t have to two-man-heave a St. Bernard out of their bedroom before engaging in sex either. I laughed my head off at the dogs howling and scratching at Shannon’s bedroom door to get in.

John is flummoxed by her family and not too sure he wants a closer acquittance with them. The whole thing scares him to death and his doubts about love, family and babies arises out of the past you’ve constructed for him. I like that he’s honest with Shannon about his expectations from their relationship. His final, bewildered, surrender to it all also seems ‘guy.’ He’s in for the sex, definitely, he likes Shannon’s intelligence, sure, but the rest, maybe he’s not too sure of but in the end is convinced he can’t live without.

Shannon’s woman’s intuition is something that would make me take a second look at John, as it does for her sister in law, but I can see her brother’s point of view that intuition plus a dog’s reactions to the man doesn’t warrant poking into his background. And I love Linda’s advice for Shannon to use her womanly charms to find out more and lure John into a false sense of safety where his identity is concerned.

John thinks he’s in control and in shape and is slightly peeved to be almost outrun and then socked by a woman. The O’Shea women take no prisoners which is something I hope he remembers later on.

The undercover investigation is realistic and something that, frankly, I hadn’t thought about but which seems logical and something that could, and probably does, happen.

Shannon does lose some points when she goes against John’s orders, no matter if she manages to persuade herself that she has a perfect right to. He gives her logical reasons for his instructions and even though she does end up saving the day, I still gotta count off. John is perfectly right to chew her out after the dust settles.

The book is full of fun, subtle humor and exchanges and interchanges between John and Shannon that I had fun reading. Shannon’s mother tells her that there is fast love and slow love and both are okay. Here we’ve got fast love and no one quite sure how they’re going to work their future lives out but I bet it’ll be fun to watch them do it. But I think it’s a good thing that Pepsi is getting a new home!


This book can be purchased at Amazon used or in ebook format from Sony or other etailers.