Wednesday, May 4, 2022

Jo Davis - Trial by Fire

Lieutenant Howard Six- Pack Paxton loves three things: being a firefighter, riding his Harley, and his bachelorhood. That is, until the curvaceous Kat McKenna falls into his arms at the scene of a fire and melts the six-foot-six tower of bronze muscle
But just as passion ignites between them and they explore new heights of ecstasy, a ruthless arsonist with a deadly secret and a thirst for vengeance becomes their worst nightmare.

Comment: To finish the list of books I designed for April I picked a book which had been in the pile since 2010. I got it during the - still financially viable - period when paperbacks in English were easy to buy from online sites, before the prices got to what they are now. 
During those years, I got many books which were the first in a series, with the idea that if I liked them, there would be plenty more to savor. Of course, time and so many books got in the way and now many of those books no longer appeal as much, for whatever reason. That happened with this one, I'm afraid.

In this novel, we meet Howard Paxton, a firefighter, as he and his team are called to a house fire. It's there he meets Kat McKenna, a witness and someone who knows the owners of the house burning. In the terrible aftermath, when it's found someone was burned in the fire, the two seem to hit it off and that same night he finds her number on the phone book and they set up a sort of date. However, someone is clearly after Howard, and more fires happen, which means someone else gets killed. Will Kat now be in danger as well, since she and Howard seem to have become a couple? Why is someone stalking Howard and causing him this trauma?

I couldn't resist including the fact that because this book was written in 2008, the protagonists set up a date when he calls her landline! It wasn't that long ago, I mean... I simply found this tidbit funny, but sadly, this didn't extend to the rest of the novel and more often than not, I pushed myself to finish. This book had been in the pile for so long, I admit I didn't want to leave it unfinished but once or twice I was tempted.

As a matter of fact, the plot of this book is interesting and the villain pursuing the protagonist for twisted reasons one we see often enough that while nothing new, it still offers for a fast paced story and I could see how the crimes being committed were affecting everyone involved, not just the protagonists but the other firefighters as well. We also get to see glimpses of those firefighters, we have a very small inkling of their personalities and even without knowing beforehand that this is a series, every detail about them points to the obvious fact they will have their own book.

This is the first book by the author I try, so I had no idea if I would like her style but all things considered, I suppose this must be the reason why I didn't like the book as much. the fluidity of the story seems off here and there, the main characters felt over dramatic at times, their behavior from "lust infused" to "indignant-you-dismiss-my-feelings" and their personalities not as complex as they could be, if one bears in mind the type of issues they were facing. I feel the author added plenty of information, plenty of ideas but they weren't mixed up in such a way I felt part of this world.

Howard is a good hero, heart in right place, with a complicated past and a slight fear of exposing himself emotionally but still helpful and willing to give Kat a chance, especially after he sees she reciprocates the attraction. I think the issues in his past were rather superficially dealt with, because the attention of the novel is on how he and Kat hit if off and how long the villain pursues him, but instead of this being a romantic suspense, were it to be simply a romance, Howard's past and characterization would have benefited from that.

Kat is a heroine like many others, she is not described as model perfect and that is a plus but it did feel she went from finding Howard a good looking man to love him deeply too quickly. It just didn't feel realistic and I can't tell if it was done just to accelerate the process of why they had to spend more time together for plot reasons, or because her character just wasn't that well created. I failed to connect with her, therefore with them as a couple, and not even the worries they have over what the villain causes made me interested in their HEA. That was a given, anyway...

Overall, I feel the execution of this novel wasn't very good. It's true I can't know if it's this one or simply the author's usual style, but I don't think the story was told in the best way, to make it both a challenge to follow and a romantic read to like. It certainly had positive elements, but the overall effect to me was not as such.
Grade: 4/10

No comments:

Post a Comment