Review: Flirting with Fire by Kate Meader

Format: mass market paperback
Pub Date: April 2015
Publisher: Pocket (Simon and Schuster)
Length: 376 pages
POV: 3rd, past
FTC: won as a prize at RT15 (free courtesy of the author)

My mission for the latter half of 2016 was to a) get back to reading and b) get back to blogging while c) reading books mostly from my TBR. While I managed to read, my blogging has been a bit lackluster. I'm happy to report, though, that I've mostly been able to stick with books that are already in my house (except for a few, rare auto-buy authors). My husband is ecstatic to see the pile get whittled even a little bit.

I'm a character-centric reader rather than a plot driven one, but one thing that I've been missing, that's been lost as imprints and publishers have consolidated over the last few years, is a wide variety of strong, distinct voices in romance. In many, many cases, *cough Avon cough* authors are "house-styled" into all sounding the same. Not the case with Kate Meader. Wowza does she have a strong, edgy voice...and this series is the perfect vehicle for it. Chicago firemen. A big, rowdy family. Enthusiastic sex. I broke my own rule for this series and bought the 3rd book (in e, so Hubs didn't see it)  that wasn't in my TBR so I could finish it out. It's that good.

For example, here's a part from very early in the book, where Luke is taking some razzing from his adult foster brother, Gage, (also a fireman who happens to be gay). Most of Luke's siblings are there.

"Who's Miss Taylor?" Alex asked.
"This chick Luke was flirting with."
Luke grunted. " I was not flirting—"
"You should have seen him, Alex," Gage said. "It was all zingers and eye fucking and enough heat to set off the smoke alarms. Our Luke's ready to get his wang back in the game. So proud."
Ker-ist. Luke looked to Wyatt for support.
   His older brother shrugged. "It was kind of cute."
Even though they're sequel bait, the siblings are all wonderful characters in their own right. Each with a back story that includes foster care and loss. Some of the scenes at the mayor's office reminded me very much of Julie James's books, but these books are much more raw. Definitely in your face for most of it, and I loved every minute of it.

As for the main couple, it's your modern day mesalliance book, where your tough firefighter is matched up to the mayor's PR person. Someone who is comfortable with the big shots in Chicago and dresses in designer clothing. Much of the conflict in the relationship comes from the fact that her job involves spinning tales for the media, which Luke tends to see as dishonesty. Neither are upfront about where they think the future is headed and neither wants to admit feelings that will make them vulnerable.

If you're looking for an authentic and earthy voice with powerful and interesting characters, this book is for you. 

My Grade: A
The Blurb:
Savvy PR guru Kinsey Taylor has always defined herself by her career, not her gender. That is, until she moved from San Francisco to Chicago to be with her fiancĂ© who thought she wasn’t taking her “job” of supporting him in his high-powered career seriously enough—and promptly dumped her for a more supportive and “feminine” nurse. Now, as the new assistant press secretary to Chicago’s dynamic mayor, she’s determined to keep her eye on the prize: no time to feel inferior because she’s a strong, kick-ass woman, and certainly no time for men.
But that all changes when she meets Luke Almeida, a firefighter as searingly sexy as he is quick-tempered. He’s also the second oldest of the Firefightin’ Dempseys, a family of foster siblings who have committed their lives to the service—if Luke’s antics don’t get him fired first. When Luke goes one step too far and gets into a bar brawl with the Chicago Police Department, Kinsey marches into Luke’s firehouse and lays down the law on orders from the mayor. But at Engine Co. 6, Luke Almeida is the law. And he’s not about to let Kinsey make the rules.

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