REVIEW: Heat Exchange by Shannon Stacey
Dear Ms. Stacey:
Your books generally work very well for me, and in the interest of full disclosure, I should say that we are friendly on Twitter. When I realized you were writing a book that is my personal catnip: Boston-set, about firefighters, and the trope “in love with my best friend’s sister”, well, I jumped. What I found is a book with a terrific sense of place, an engaging cast of characters, and a secondary romance that intrigued me as much as the primary.
Lydia Kincaid left Boston to get away from her overbearing family and a bad marriage. Her past was full of fire fighters: her father, her brother, her ex-husband, her brother-in-law, and she needs a break from them. But when she gets a call from her older sister saying that her marriage is falling apart and she needs Lydia to come home and help at the family bar, Lydia reluctantly agrees to come for a short period of time. When she gets home, she finds her sister devastated by the break-up of her marriage, and unable or unwilling to work in the family bar for fear she’ll see her ex-husband and have to talk to him. Lydia agrees to take her shifts at the bar for a time, and heads in. She’s always had a contentious relationship with her dad, who owns the bar, and never understood why she left, but is glad to see her younger brother, Scott, and even glader to see Aidan Hunt, her brother’s best friend. She and Aidan strike up an easy flirtation, but of course, that’s not going anywhere, he’s five years younger than her, a firefighter, her brother’s best friend, and therefore wholly inappropriate.
Aidan is delighted to see Lydia. He’s been hot for her for years, and now that she’s back, would really like to see where things go with her. But will he be able to overcome her reluctance to get involved, and more, what will he do when she leaves town again?
I really enjoyed this book. As a New Englander, you create a fabulous sense of place, and as I have a long standing love of Boston (though not it’s sports teams :) ), and a particular weakness for blue collar heroes, this book was already going to work for me. But you throw is a truly wonderful beta hero, who is sensitive, kind, has a long history with the heroine and actual obstacles to overcome, and you have the makings of a fantastic romance. While I found Lydia perhaps a touch too reluctant in the end (couldn’t she see how wonderful Aidan is?), I really bought the slow build of their relationship, and more, the reasons she had for not being with him. The heat level between the two was incendiary, and you wrote a couple of unusual and fun sexy scenes that really stood out. I was also very engaged in Lydia’s sister, Ashley’s marital issues, and thought that you wove in the secondary romance in a way that was credible and didn’t draw too much attention from the primary couple. This is a series that I can already tell I’ll love. You’ve written another winner, in my book. Final grade: B+