Author: Shannon Stacey
Reviewer: Jen Twimom
As a lieutenant with the Boston Fire Department, Rick Gullotti is surrounded by his makeshift family of firefighters. Additionally, he has rented the third floor of Joe and Marie Broussard’s home for years, making him part of their family, especially since their only child, Davey, left in his early twenties and never returned, cutting Joe and Marie out of his life. So when Joe takes a fall, Rick rushes to the hospital to help out, knowing that the phone call to Davey will do no good.
Jessica Broussard is the VP of her father’s financial services firm. While he is unavailable and out-of-touch, she takes a call that tells her the grandparents she’s never met may need help. On a whim, she decides to fly out to Boston to meet the people her father hates, to find out if they even know about her, and try to help them plan for their future as they age.
Once again, I found myself completely wrapped up in Ms. Stacey’s Boston Fire world, which focuses on family – both biological and those we make for ourselves. In Controlled Burn, the Broussard family takes center stage, as Joe and Marie meet and adjust to the granddaughter they never knew existed. Meanwhile, they struggle with the very real issues of growing older and living in a big home that requires a lot of upkeep. On its own, these issues make for an engrossing story; however they also play into the romantic storyline, putting Jessica and Rick together, for better or worse. Luckily it’s all very, very good!
Jessica has always been there for her father, as he has been there for her. Being raised by a single dad, Jessica never really questioned her father’s intent and motives. Although she recognizes his faults and doesn’t necessarily make excuses, she tends to go along with his judgement because overall, he’s a good man. I don’t know how things were before this book, but I do like what I see in Jessica once she arrives in Boston. Needless to say, when her father discovers her trip to his parents home, he’s not happy. But Jessica handles herself well with her father. She recognizes when he’s trying to manipulate her and balances her wants and needs with his position as her boss. She plays him well and makes a small stand while keeping her job and putting him in his place. Witnessing Jessica’s growing relationship with her grandparents, and ultimately with her father provides for a heartwarming and entertaining tale.
Rick is the perfect match for Jessica. He’s patient and kind, and mostly gives her the benefit of the doubt with respect to her reasons for showing up out of the blue. But it’s not easy. They pair hit a few bumps because they each are leery of the other when it comes to motives surrounding Joe and Marie. I appreciate that the author doesn’t overwork that angle, allowing the pair to develop a warm and loving friendship while trying to deny their mutual attraction.
As for the romance, it was more of a slow burn than the spontaneous combustion of the first book. Jessica and Rick’s relationship starts as a tentative friendship that grows as their trust in one another strengthens. They both are conflicted, knowing they come from different worlds, and even close to the end, each continues to question the other’s motives. Although not super hot, their romance is sweet and fitting within the context of the storyline.
As much as I enjoyed Controlled Burn, I felt like the ending happened too quickly. I loved how the couple came together, but what happens next? They have some big decisions to make and matters to address in order to move forward, and I really wanted to see some of that process which would secure the relationship. I felt like I was left hanging a little bit. Hopefully, we’ll see more of Jessica and Rick in the next Boston Fire title.
In the end, I enjoyed the story and romance behind Controlled Burn. Shannon Stacey penned a sweet romance, complete with the small town, family-centric vibe she’s known for, and drops it into a big city environment, which allows for heightened action and tension. While the abruptness of the ending threw me off a bit, the overall story and relationship was well developed. I loved watching Jessica and Rick’s friendship grow over the course of the story, and finally blossom into a passionate love.
Rick Gullotti lives the good life. He fights fires, dates beautiful women—though none long enough so they cast wistful glances at jewelry stores—and has great friends. And thanks to helping out the elderly couple who own his building, his rent is low. But when concerns about their health lead him to contact their only son, his life starts getting away from him.
Jessica Broussard has no interest in leaving sunny San Diego or her cushy corner office for Boston, but her father—who happens to be her boss—dispatches her to deal with the grandparents she’s never met. She’s unprepared for the frigid winter, loving relatives who aren’t the monsters she’s been led to believe, and the hot, scruffy firefighter who lives upstairs.
At first, Jessica is determined to get back to her comfortable life as quickly as possible. All she has to do is talk her grandparents into selling their monstrosity of a house and moving to a retirement community. But she underestimates Rick’s dedication—and his considerable charm. Nobody’s taking advantage of his friends on his watch, even if that makes the tempting southern California girl with the long legs his adversary. Unfortunately for them both, the only thing more urgent than the matter at hand is their sizzling chemistry, and it’s quickly becoming too strong to resist.
Release Date: November 24, 2015
Publisher: Carina Press
Series: Boston Fire #2
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Format(s): paperback (336 pages), e-book, audiobook
Book Source: NetGalley
Controlled Burn (Boston Fire #2)
Reviews in the Series:
Heat Exchange by Shannon Stacey (Boston Fire #1)