I just adore Gina L. Maxwell's books! She has a way of writing something serious or sweet and then POW...laugh out loud funny! It's usually best not to drink anything while reading her books!
Boston firefighter Erik Grady had some PTSD issues from his 10 years he spent in the Army where he was a Lieutenant. Erik has kept his PTSD under control until a recent incident on the job triggered an episode. Now Erik is bound to desk duty until he goes through the proper therapy he is required to do. Erik is used to being in charge and having his men follow him and not working is showing weakness, something that he hates. After leaving a bar one night with his friends, Erik stops at a convenience store to pick up some alcohol. In the store he see the most gorgeous female he has seen in a while and he is intrigued. She is on the phone with a friend stating what she wished a guy would just do....
Next thing you know, Erik is talking with said girl and they decide to have a one-nighter and boy what a nighter it turns out to be. The morning Erik wakes up and the woman is gone. Lucky for him he ends up getting her name from the hotel worker since she ended up paying for the room with her credit card. Imagine Erik's surprise when this woman is the same woman he has to have therapy with!!!!
Olivia Jones normally doesn't do one night stands and then to see this man, standing in her office is just too much to handle. Since Erik isn't ready to give Olivia up, he convinces her to let her uncle take his case and then she will go on three real dates with him. After the three dates if she doesn't think they should continue, he will stop pursing her. Oh, boy.....let's just say that Erik can be really convincing when he needs to be. I just fell in love with this character. He was sweet, sexy and all alpha and a fireman to boot! ;) Olivia really had no choice, but to fall hard. I really enjoyed the time these two went on dates. It was so fun seeing what Erik was going to come up with next. Such a thoughtful guy which made it all that much harder having to see him go through PTSD. It's such a tough illness that often gets overlooked. Gina L. Maxwell did a great job showing you how this disease affects people. It made you really root for Erik to overcome his battle. It was a tough road to get to Erik's happy ending with Olivia but it was worth it! I just really liked the way these two characters were with each other. I also can't wait for Dozer and Angie's story! That one seems like it will be explosive!
Ex-Army Ranger Erik Grady lives for the job. So when his chief at the Boston Fire Department offers him two choices—mandated therapy for supposed PTSD or a permanent desk job at the station, he reluctantly agrees to see a shrink. Only this doctor is unlike anything he expected. Female and curved in all the right places? Check. Hotter than a four-alarm fire? Check. The kind of woman that can heat his blood in and out of bed? Check, check. And oh, yeah, he just happens to have first hand experience...
Of all the men to walk into psychologist Olivia Jones' office, why did it have to be him? Her one-night stand isn't playing by the rules of just. One. Night. She’s had her heart broken in the past, and no way is she going there again. And now he's blackmailing her into three dates? Well, if that's what it takes to make him see a different therapist, fine. She can handle it. So what if the chemistry between them is combustible? She's a professional, damn it. She'll date Mr. I'm Too Sexy For My Bunker Pants. But it won’t end in the fun he expects.
It’s time to see how much heat this fireman can take…
“Unlock this door, gorgeous, or I’m breaking it down.”
Okay, screw payback, she’d waited for him long enough. She reached out, threw the deadbolt, and immediately hopped back when the door swung open like a gale-force wind was behind it. She was dimly aware of it being kicked shut, but most of her brainpower was totally focused on taking in the sight of the hottest thing she’d ever seen: Erik, standing in her neat little apartment, larger than life and fully dressed in his bunker gear.
Ho…ly…shit. She’d imagined him in his ranger kit before, certain it would melt her panties to see him geared up and ready for battle, but she never thought she’d find his turnout gear so damn sexy. He stood there, massive, like a first-responder god, dressed head to toe in bulky black attire striped with bands of reflective yellow. The coat hung open, revealing a tucked-in navy blue BFD T-shirt, and his helmet dangled from the fingertips of one hand.
“Why are you dressed like that?” she rasped through a suddenly dry throat.
“Training took for-fucking-ever.” Setting his helmet on the counter, he pulled his cell from a pocket and held it up before tossing it on the counter. “Totally dead, or I would’ve called. Couldn’t wait. Guys dropped me off.”
One of her favorite things about Erik was how well-spoken he was. As primal as his characteristics might be, he wasn’t a Neanderthal grunting his likes and dislikes in disjointed phrases. But tonight was obviously no ordinary night. Since walking through the door, he hadn’t uttered a single complete sentence, and his whiskey-colored eyes might as well be saying Me, Tarzan. You, Jane for all the civility she saw in them.
“The fuck are you wearing?” he asked, heat flickering in his eyes.
Unable to remember, she glanced down. Oh, right. “An oversize sleep shirt I’ve had for years.” She frowned, rethinking her choice. “Not the sexiest thing, I know.”
He’d said she shouldn’t wear anything she wanted intact, and this thing was a handful of washes away from dissolving into the ether. The white cotton shirt, which hit her at midthigh, was threadbare and transparent enough that the dusky rose color of her nipples showed through without the aid of special lighting, and the neck was so wide it was forever sliding off one shoulder or the other. Underneath, she wore a white lacey thong. She almost hadn’t worn any panties at all, but she couldn’t bring herself to be quite that bold.
“No,” he said, “it’s perfect.” Rolling his shoulders back, he shucked the heavy coat and tossed it over one of the kitchen bar stools, then advanced, ambling toward her…
Gina L. Maxwell is a full-time writer, wife, and mother living in the upper Midwest, despite her scathing hatred of snow and cold weather. An avid romance novel addict, she began writing as an alternate way of enjoying the romance stories she loves to read. Her debut novel, Seducing Cinderella, hit both the USA Today and New York Times bestseller lists in less than four weeks, and she’s been living her newfound dream ever since. When she’s not reading or writing steamy romance novels, she spends her time losing at Scrabble (and every other game) to her high school sweetheart, doing her best to hang out with their teenagers before they fly the coop, and dreaming about her move to sunny Florida once they do.
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Let me just state, first and foremost, I really loved this book. I haven’t read that much of Joe Hill’s stuff, but I obviously know who he’s related to, and I’m a super-fan of King. Which is also why it was pretty difficult to ignore the similarities between this dystopian novel, and The Stand. They’re completely different, yet a lot alike.
The similarities though… Not only do we have a deaf boy called Nick, but we also have a guy called Harold who hated everyone in the community and kept a diary filled with his hateful thoughts. A little meta, but Hill didn’t just draw from his father’s work. Mary Poppins had a significant role, and even J.K. Rowling was dragged in. It was a little disconcerting, but to be fair, these people are pretty big in real life, and it wouldn’t be weird for me to come across conversations about them or their works. I guess that’s what made it disconcerting… it made it feel like this book is set in our world… not a fictional one.
In the Fireman, we see a dystopia where people get infected with Dragonskin (I actually prefer it's medical name; Draco Incendia Trychophyton, which has a beautiful, almost poetic ring to it), which seems to cause whoever is infected to spontaneously combust. Understandably, there's a panic, and all kinds of shit goes down. What's left is split between the healthy and the infected, with the healthy paranoid about staying that way.
This, of course, brings out the worst of humanity, and you have people who embrace their own sociopathic tendencies and use the legitimate fear of others to fan the flames of hysteria. Of course, after that it's easy to justify genocide... you know, it's for the good of everyone else.
We follow Harper, our Mary-Sue main character who is obsessed with Mary Poppins and tries to emulate her in everything she does, who gets infected with Dragonscale pretty early on. She is also pregnant, and determined to be delivered of her baby because she’s sure he’ll be healthy. Her husband doesn’t agree, and in trying to escape him and the people who kill the infected “for the greater good”, she is found by The Fireman and taken to a community of infected people. Here, she finds out that being infected doesn’t necessarily mean you are going to combust, as long as you give the spore what it craves… Oxytocin. I immediately wondered why this is not bigger news, but of course, scared people don’t necessarily listen to reason. Especially if they have a figurehead telling them what to think and how to feel and what to do.
The funny thing is… even in this community of infected, that same mentality prevails. To be perfectly blunt, it’s more like a cult, but at first, everyone was really good and accepting. Of course, this doesn’t last, and because Harper doesn’t want to blindly go along with everyone and join the crazy, she gets ostracized. The worst, or maybe the best, thing this novel does, is make it easy to understand how it can happen. When you’re scared, you look for someone to look up to, someone who will protect you. You’ll go looking for acceptance and security, holding on to even the slightest hint of it with a fanatic zeal. If someone or something threatens that thin membrane of security, you’ll do anything to stop it from breaking through. Anything.
The Fireman is different than the rest of the affected people though. While they can only keep the dragonscale from turning them into human blowtorches, he seems to be able to control it. He doesn’t want to share how he does it though… he’s a bit of an ass actually. But also likeable. I see David Tennant in his role if there’s a movie deal in the future…
While he does his fair share of saving the day, Harper isn’t your average damsel in distress. In fact, she generally goes around saving herself and everyone else, including The Fireman. Inevitably, they fall in love, and while I liked both characters separately, I wasn’t much of a fan of the way Hill wrote their relationship. It felt kind of forced and desperate, which it might well have been. Luckily that wasn’t a huge factor and I could look the other way while they bumbled through a very unconvincing romance…
There was a lot going on in this book, and I guess it wasn’t perfect. But I very much enjoyed the story. I loved that nothing was rushed, and he took his time to get the story out there. Sure, most of the time it was pretty obvious what was going on and what would happen, but it’s always been about the journey for me. A lot of times, that’s where authors go wrong. They think they have to rush. Sure, if the story ain’t any good, rush away, but with something like this, it’s like a slow burn (excuse the pun), and if you try and force the flames too quickly, you’re more likely to smother and kill it.
More than anything else, this book made me fear for humanity, because let’s face it, this kind of mentality is alive and well, even in today’s age where there isn’t an obvious threat like disease. But if someone convinces you that there is a threat, but that they can help if you give them the power… well, people can be gullible. And horrible.