Author ~ M. Tasia
Publisher ~ Boroughs Publishing Group
Published ~ 8th September 2016
Genre ~ Contemporary M/M Romance
Fifth-generation firefighter Gabe Mason saves Johnny from the flames of an office building fire, and Johnny will save Gabe from himself.
Gabe Mason is a fifth-generation firefighter unable to move forward with his life after a devastating betrayal two years earlier. Graphic designer Johnny Jeffrey relocated to Brighton, Texas, to flee persecution and fear, and to begin living again on his own terms. The two meet amidst fire and smoke, and soon Johnny is in Gabe’s arms, right where he should be. The connection is palpable, undeniable, and hot, and healing from the past is within reach of both men. And yet, the office-building blaze that brought them together is only the beginning of their struggles. Not family, not faith, not a lunatic’s rage. It took a fire to bring Gabe and Johnny together. Nothing will tear them apart.
Let me say from the outset, that I thoroughly enjoyed this story and would have enjoyed it a whole lot more if I hadn’t been reviewing critically. I think it will be well received and a lot of readers will love it.
I particularly enjoyed the beginning, which jumped in with both feet, so to speak. The drama was punctuated with humour and we had a nice introduction to Johnny’s personality, which remained true throughout the book. I liked the way his thoughts were sprinkled through the commentary and enabled us to see how they conflicted with his actions. We were also introduced to Gabe, the knight in shining armour who I initially took to.
Overall, the story was good with pacing, but I have a major problem with the timing. Gabe fell in love at first sight and leaped in with both feet. To be honest, my first impressions changed quickly and I’m not sure I liked him, as he came across as unstable and almost bullying. His mother told Johnny at the first meeting to call her Mom, as did his father insist on being called Dad. Almost all of Gabe’s huge family turned up within the first few days, and on the day of Johnny’s release from hospital, there were sixteen adults and two children in the room, in addition to Johnny and Gabe. All of these were introduced by name and occupation and most were never mentioned again. I think the introduction to family was way too detailed, and unnecessary.
Although, overall I think there were way too many subsidiary characters, those who were developed were sweet and fairly well rounded. One thing I particularly liked was the way we got to know Gabe and Johnny slowly through the story. Their backgrounds were introduced naturally and remained consistent. We are also shown how the couple’s personalities were shaped by their past, which I liked.
The editing could be patchy at times, and sometimes clumsy, although, in general, the punctuation was polished and the only issues were with grammar and technique, for example passive voice, overuse of names in dialogue and underuse of contractions. I noticed these particularly as I have a tendency to do the same things myself and I look out for them.
It seemed that everywhere Gabe and Johnny went, and everyone they met was family or a friend, and I was confused that the job of Fire Chief seemed to be hereditary. Initially, I thought they were in Brighton UK so this didn’t sit with me at all, as Brighton is a large, lively city and this just wouldn’t happen. Then, I realized it was actually Brighton US. I don’t know much about the town but I’ve read plenty of stories set in small towns in the US and was happy to accept there’s a tendency to strong community, and family connections.
It was slightly frustrating when everyone got paired up in the end, even Jesse who was a fairly new character, but good for them.
Another thing I liked a lot about the story was that Johnny’s recovery was very consistent and realistic. I particularly liked the way the mental as well as the physical side of it was explored. I loved how Johnny slowly came to terms with his limitations and scars with the right amounts of frustration and acceptance, and I was impressed by the way his acceptance of his scars was handled, especially the way he dealt with the family.
I would have liked more emotional depth, but a lot of the emotions seemed a little clumsy and even shallow. There was little by way of real tension between the two main characters and there were no real challenges to their relationship. All of this wasn’t a particular turn off for me, and I suspect it will be even less of one to those who are less “touchy feely” than I am.
The sex scenes were brief, but consistent with the characters and well done. I’m not overly fond of sex scenes myself and this was just enough in my opinion.
The drama with Chris was exciting and realistic and I liked the way his mental state deteriorated. I think it was consistent with his situation and added a nice touch of drama. Chris’ role was just right, I think – not too big but big enough to add to the story.
In my opinion, the book ended in the right way and at the right time, although I think talk of children came a bit too soon. Both Johnny and Gabe went through quite a lot of turmoil and trauma and it was nice to see them have their happy ending even though that was a foregone conclusion from the start.
All in all, I can recommend this story to anyone who likes a love story without too much to think about. I took off marks for how quickly everything happened between Gabe, Johnny and Gabe’s family, as well as the editing issues, but if you enjoy insta-love and don’t care about technicalities you’ll definitely rate it higher.