Reviewed for Wit and Sin
I’ve always found J.R. Ward’s books to be compulsively readable, so it’s no surprise that I was eager to dive into her new Firefighters series. Consumed sets the stage for what looks to be an interesting series of flawed heroes and heroines on the front lines of danger. It’s also a story I have a difficult time putting a rating on.
Let’s start with Anne Ashburn and Danny McGuire, our main couple. They’re smart but reckless, brave but deeply flawed. Danny is spiraling throughout most of this book (until he’s not) and I did like the level of realism Ms. Ward shows regarding the toll being a firefighter takes on a person. Anne isn’t exactly a likeable heroine, but – though it may sound strange – that’s one of the things I liked best about this book. Heroines like Anne are few and far between compared to their male counterparts and it was actually refreshing to see a heroine who is wounded, angry, and sometimes scared. Anne came into her own over the course of Consumed in an organic way and it was easy to become invested in her story. As for the romance, I highly recommend reading the two “Wedding from Hell” prequel novellas (“The Rehearsal Dinner” and “The Reception”) before starting this book. It’s no spoiler to say that Anne and Danny start out the book in love, but obstacles (some realistic, others that felt manufactured) keep the romance spinning its wheels for a lot of the story until the adrenaline rush of the finish.
Danny and Anne’s aren’t the only points of view in Consumed. There’s also that of Tom, the New Brunswick fire chief and Anne’s brother, and Vic Rizzo, a fellow firefighter from a different station. It’s not uncommon for Ms. Ward to have multiple points of view in her books and Tom’s scenes had the benefit of fleshing out the world and the Ashburn family, adding interest to the story, and generally making sure that I will stay on the edge of my seat, waiting for his book. As for Vic, he is probably the most likeable character in this book (aside from Anne’s awesome boss and Soot the dog), but his scenes don’t add much and I’m assuming they were included because he’ll be central to future books.
After an explosive beginning, Consumed slows down a bit, hitting its stride about three-quarters of the way through. A mystery stemming from Anne’s first case as an arson investigator builds over the course of the story. I enjoyed the danger and suspense and by the end I couldn’t put the book down, only to feel a bit disappointed that things were left hanging. I’m looking forward to seeing what happens in future books, but the way things ended made this book feel a bit unfinished. Because this is the first book in the series, there’s a lot of world building and introductions. I was intrigued by the messy, hanging-by-a-thread firefighters even though they definitely aren’t your typical swoon-worthy protagonists. Most of them are presented as damaged with unhealthy coping mechanisms and a bizarre disdain for anyone even slightly younger than them (the last of which I only included because it felt shoehorned in repeatedly). They also tend to all talk alike, which makes sense on the one hand but on the other I feel like something is missing without defined voices. And it’d be remiss of me not to mention the scenes with the firefighters in action. It is clear Ms. Ward did her research and it shows really well, adding realism to the story.
Consumed is intriguing and flawed, just like its hero and heroine. On its own, I had some issues with the book but I think as the series goes on I will like it better as part of the whole. As it stands, Ms. Ward’s singular writing style pulled me in and I will definitely be back for more.
FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.