REVIEW: Under Control by Shannon Stacey
When faced with the opportunity to change shifts while staying in the same house, veteran firefighter Derek Gilman jumps at the chance. His new schedule means not working Saturdays, which means more time to spend with his two kids. His divorce may have been amicable, but being a firefighter and a single dad is a lot to juggle. And when fate brings a gorgeous, wealthy woman into his life, he’s pretty sure he can’t handle more than he already is.
Olivia McGovern loves plans. She planned to start her own business and planned its growth. It’s earning her seven figures now, but her personal life simply doesn’t exist. Getting trapped in a broken elevator figures in exactly nowhere, and freaking out in front of a sexy firefighter definitely isn’t on the agenda. Especially not one with two kids and an ex.
What would have been a random incident with an attractive stranger becomes something more when a charity event brings them back together. They’re from different sides of the tracks, literally—with friends, family and careers to consider. But as Derek and Olivia are discovering, chemistry doesn’t allow for plans, and love doesn’t bother with logistics.
Dear Ms. Stacey,
While reading Hot Response, the previous book in the Boston Fire series, I saw that the next story would be about a divorced firefighter with children. Cool, I thought, let’s see who he’s paired up with and how this will work out. It turned out that a man who’s life can’t be predicted will try and find his HEA with a woman who lives by her day planner.
In the opening scene, Derek and Olivia, get stuck in an elevator. A little banter, a touch of flirting and some glances end with the two of them not being able to exchange names but thinking about each other a whole lot. When fate puts them in touch, Derek jumps at fixing his mistake. Olivia is probably out of his league but he’s going to take a chance. Olivia never thought she’d see the hot fireman again so he was a safe hawt fantasy. She’s also willing to see where this goes and a low simmer starts. Each takes it slowly and doesn’t rush their fences.
We learn a lot about Olivia’s job which honestly not many people seem to understand as there are a lot of “huh?” faces when she tries to explain it. A teensy bit too much time is spent on the details of it and her meticulous planning – in ink. My eyes glazed over a great deal.
Then it’s time to be at Kincaid’s bar and then a firefighter barbeque as these are stock scenes for this series. Many former characters show up but they aren’t all dumped in the story at the same time. Newbies can read this but there will be challenges to keep everyone straight. However, it has the least amount of time spent fighting fires or at firehouse of any so far that I’ve read.
What we get is a lot of Derek and Olivia thinking separately about all the differences between them then calling, then texting and working out dinner and sleep overs. A lot of this. It’s like a time management seminar. Then Derek worries about the money disparities between their jobs and lifestyles and can they ever bridge these. Meanwhile Olivia’s concern is can she be a part of the life of a divorced man with two kids – can she fit in given how horribly her own parents and well, basically everyone in her family, handled their divorces? Can she loosen her tightly controlled life and let a ready made family into it years before she’d planned to? I liked how Derek’s children were not just plot moppets but an integral part of his life. Olivia’s initial wariness takes a little time to dissipate while the children view the changes in their parents’ lives from a realistic child POV – Derek’s ex-wife is pregnant and the children worry about being displaced.
This is pretty much all that this book is. Initially I enjoyed the different angle of a divorced father and single heroine plot and was all ready to see how things would work out but it took a long time of rinse and repeat before we got there. There’s not too much dramatic stuff. Okay yeah this is truly the reality of most people’s lives but a little editing and excision of repeated scenes would have moved things along.
Frankly I found myself more interested in the mystery and drama of one of the other firefighters and his girlfriend then one more version of the concerns of Olivia and Derek.
Then finally! these two are ready to admit their deepest feelings. Yay. Then they have one argument – yes, it’s important but … – and suddenly they’re pouring gasoline on the relationship and setting it on fire before walking off forever. What?? Really? That’s it? This is all the effort they’re going to put into compromises? Sheesh. It’s Derek’s ex-wife (and nicely, still friend) who yanks a knot in him and orders him to get back in the game. Then just as quickly he and Olivia are ready to have a rational discussion of (tops) ten minutes and we’re all good here? Sorry but a long book of – admittedly realistic but a little dull – dating followed by quickie argument and it’s over before just as quickly it’s fixed for a HEA just didn’t light my fire. Pardon the pun. C