Monday, February 22, 2016

ARC Review: Fire of the Heart (Hearts of Parkerburg 3) by Havan Fellows and Lee Brazil

Craig Gilchrist is the oldest of five siblings, the captain of the Parkerburg Fire Department, and all around buddy his friends run to when they have a problem. Unfortunately, he’s keeping a secret not only from the whole town, but his family as well. Living in the shadows works for him until one fateful night when a hot stranger walks across a smoky barroom, forcing Craig to make a move that could rock the foundation of his existence…and fill the void in his heart he doesn’t realize he has.

Melrose escaped the end of a bad relationship to start over in Parkerburg. With the support of his cousin and a job waiting tables at a great restaurant, he thinks his life is finally going pretty smoothly. That’s when his path crosses that of Craig Gilchrist, local fire captain. The big, beefy firefighter is definitely not his type. So why does he suddenly star in all of Melrose’s fantasies?

With Melrose at his side, Craig finally has the motivation to step out of the shadows and let Parkerburg see the real him…until trouble arises and the truth comes to light that perhaps he doesn’t know the real Melrose.

Lies and fears play havoc with their newly acquired relationship. Luckily, once ignited, the hearts of Parkerburg don’t burn out so easily.

Dani's rating:

This is a surprisingly low-angst story about Craig, a closeted fireman, and Melrose, who left an abusive relationship and moved to Parkerburg to get away from his ex.

I say "surprisingly" because staying closeted for 35 years while keeping a girlfriend as a "beard" and being in an abusive relationship for seven are BIG themes. Abuse changes the victim, and generally years of work and therapy are needed to heal.

But who needs therapy when they can just move to Parkerburg?

This book does NOT read well as a standalone, despite what the blurb says.

There are way too many references to secondary characters crammed in here: Craig's admin, his best friends, his family, his sister's kids, his brother's girlfriend; Mel's cousin, her kids, the staff of the restaurant where he works; plus, the florist, the craft store owner, the police chief, the tattoo artist, the pub owner, Mel's ex (who hit Mel because he drank too much, so everyone cut him some slack), and on and on and on.

But the thing that bothered me the most was the authors' habit of fading every scene to black. And I don't mean the steamy scenes. I mean EVERY scene. Craig comes out to his sister. End of scene. Craig comes out to his brother; they go have lunch to chat. End of scene. These are just two out of many examples.

This book reads like a sitcom that goes to commercial break every ten minutes and never returns to its original programming. No meaningful conversations happen on page. No ideas are truly explored or developed. Everything feels rushed and too easy.

That's not to say I didn't enjoy some of the story. Craig's two best friend are awesome, and the banter between the three is funny. I liked Mel despite the lie he told about the "mugger" who hit him (it was really his ex). I liked how protective Craig is of Mel. There are a couple sweet sexy scenes (a bit short, but still) and a tentative HEA.

If you want fluff & banter tied together with a sparkly ribbon, this is a good pick. I suspect I would have liked this story more had I read the first two books.

Get the book:


Are we not like two volumes of one book?
~Marceline Desbordes-Valmore

An ARC of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. 

Download links are provided as a courtesy and do not constitute an endorsement of or affiliation with the book, author, publisher, or website listed.

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