Title: Taking the Heat
Review number: 44
Genre: Contemporary romance
Stand alone /Series: This is book 3 in the O’Neil family series but it can, quite comfortably, be read as a stand alone.
Summary:Working as the cook at his family’s pub, Liam O’Neil has nothing but respect for his firefighter regulars. But when firefighter Sophie Tyler takes a part-time job at the pub, Liam must be cautious. A widower with two young sons, he can’t put his heart on the line for someone who walks into burning buildings. But how can he ignore the fire burning within?
Why did I read the book: I got an ARC!
Sophie Tyler is a fire-fighter, one of America’s Finest. She is a divorced young woman struggling to be accepted in a very male environment and doing her best to keep her head up, even if she has been a fire-fighter for 12 years and very good at what she does. The Fire Department has been part of her life ever since she was 10 years old and was rescued from a fire that killed her mother – some officers “adopted” her and she has been connected with them since that time.
Sophie and her company are regulars at the pub and when she is introduced to Liam by his brothers, there is an immediate attraction between them. When later Sophie starts to work at Liam’s pub as a part-time waitress to make ends meet, they become even closer and it’s very clear that they would like to get together.
But things are not as straight forward because Sophie’s life is in constant danger and Liam’s son Mike is becoming attached to her and worries every time she goes into a fire. Liam has then to make a decision whether to put his son’s feelings ahead of his own or to carry on letting himself become attached to her as well. A very tough decision since he is already falling in love.
I tend to shy away from reading contemporary romance novels because my 21st century sensibilities will keep me from enjoying over the top plots with billionaires and marriages of convenience and the such. What sometimes works for me in a historical setting will not work in a contemporary world.
Having said that, I quite liked Taking the Heat because it was a story of two regular folks who slowly get to know each other and fall in love while struggling with very real day to day choices. Liam is a sweet man, a family man, whose heart is in the right place whilst Sophie is a very strong, sometimes pigheaded woman whose work has central stage in her life. Their interactions felt very real to me as did the interactions between the O’Neil brothers and between Sophie and her mates at the Fire Department – those were the high points of the book for me –I loved all the playfulness and the banter that served to disguise true love and tenderness between all of them.
Another point of interest was the realistic descriptions of the day to day life at a Fire Station – I wonder if Mrs Shay has a fire-fighter in the family – and their equipment and their fight against fires every hour of the day. 9/11 was mentioned a couple of times in a manner that felt respectful. It must be a difficult subject to approach and I thought Mrs Shay was quite brave in doing so.
Now, will Liam and Sophie ever be able to work things up? Well, it is a romance novel isn’t it? So a happy ending is guaranteed. Although, and I very much liked that, things were not magically resolved and they did not ride into sunset in their horses , a lot is still in the air and they both now that in real life, people need to make concessions and to take one day at a time.
This is a sweet novel about real people and I feel quite inclined to place an order for the previous two books in the series about two other O’Neils.
Taking the Heat comes out today!
Additional Thoughts: There is a lot of discussion in the book about the discrimination that women fire fighters suffer in what is perceived as a men’s profession. Sophie had to outdo herself and work out a lot to be able to cope with lifting stuff or to be as strong as her co-workers while at the same time trying to show that women’s size and aerobic capacity can be an advantage. Interesting stuff.
Verdict: I was very engrossed in the story and it was a nice change from reading so many historicals and paranormals. Be advised though, ye who like your man more alpha than not – Liam is not of them.
Rating: 7 very good.
Reading Next: Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris