Series: Hot in Chicago #2
Source: the publisher in exchange for an honest review
Release Date: September 29, 2015
Challenges: Finishing the Series
Buying Links: Amazon* | Book Depository* | ARe* | iTunes* | Barnes & Noble | BAM | Indiebound | GOOGLE PLAY |
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Blurb from the publisher:
The scorching-hot Dempsey siblings continue to fight fire with fire…Her heart’s in his line of fire…Heating up reading lists and leisure time long after the summer heat has cooled will be Kate Meader’s PLAYING WITH FIRE, which tells the story of rookie firefighter Alex Dempsey. She may be the only woman in Engine Company 6—and may have burned through thirty-four dates in the last ten months—but she’s got everything under control. At least until she rescues Eli Cooper, Chicago’s devastatingly handsome mayor, from a hotel blaze. These two have clashed before—Eli’s a brilliant politician, used to the spotlight, and Alex has no use for a man who can smooth-talk anyone into anything, including his bed. But after their headline-grabbing encounter, Alex is the one starting to sizzle…...but first she’ll set his world aflame…Eli Cooper has one goal: winning the next election, and Alex, his sassy savior, may be the spark he needs to light up his sputtering mayoral campaign. “Dating” the female firefighter who saved his life is political gold, but her total lack of filter makes Eli incensed—and more than a little hot and bothered. For the sake of ratings, their bickering will have to wait until they get some privacy…And once these two are alone together, there’ll be no way to extinguish the flames in Kate Meader’s second sizzling installment in the Hot in Chicago series, PLAYING WITH FIRE!
Sparks have been flying between Alex and Eli since the first book in the series. Eli is the mayor of Chicago; he's arrogant, cocky, opinionated, and has had several clashes with the Dempseys, including Alex herself. Alex is attracted to Eli physically but dislikes him personally. Not only has he caused grief for Alex but also one of her brothers and his now fiancee but he as stated, publicly and loudly, that he doesn't think women should be firefighters. Alex of course disagrees.
Meader takes the enemies-to-lovers trope and plays with it. She doesn't rush Alex and Eli's relationship but builds up to it. They dance around each other, sniping, snarling, and lusting until they can't take it any longer. Alex, like her brother Luke, is impulsive and hot-headed, and she's tired of her brothers always protecting her and coming to her rescue; she tries to stand on her own, stubbornly refusing to ask for help. She grows up during the story, and starts taking responsibility for her actions, even letting Eli off the hook.
But she may have been a bit premature in releasing Eli from responsibility. Eli's been keeping secrets and he deliberately lied to her and manipulated her. Honestly, I went into the story not being a fan of Eli's after reading "Flirting with Fire" and "Melting Point". I hoped that Meader could redeem him or make him likable or in some way make him less of an a**. Well, she did make him more sympathetic and we see why he kept his secret, and why he lied to and manipulated Alex, but I still didn't end up liking him very much. Sometimes in romances when the hero lies to and manipulates the heroine there's at least the premise, however thin and unlikely, that it was in some way for her own good. Eli does it because he can and because he wants Alex for himself. He even says to her, "Would you have agreed to date me if I had just asked you?" Sorry, but that's not romantic to me, it wasn't appealing in any way.
As a result, I had a problem with the romance. There are sparks aplenty and Meader wrote some hot love scenes but I just can't accept Eli as the romantic lead or the hero. That's not to say that Alex was perfect; she was quick to judge, impulsive, and sometimes immature, but her character arc and growth were believable whereas Eli was just obnoxious, deceitful, and annoying most of the time and what growth occurred was insufficient. Meader tells the story from both his POV and Alex's POV, which helped to make Eli more relatable and empathetic, and he can be nice, even helping other people, but I could not get past his unrepentant lying, deceiving, and manipulating. I was not rooting for them to get together though I was curious to see how they would work things out and if they could even manage a relationship.
Now, odd as it may seem if you've read this far, but while the romance, the point of the story, didn't work for me, I did enjoy the story apart from the romance. The bond between Alex and her brothers is a delight, full of love, humor, protectiveness, and the frustrations that no one but a sibling can give you. I loved the interactions amongst all of the Dempseys and seeing how close-knit they are. As well, Meader writes with humor and wit and hooks her reader. I may not have bought into Alex and Eli's romance but she kept me reading nonetheless. Eli's back story was intriguing and while it was cliched, I could still feel his pain and anger. That plot line did work some magic and make Eli much more likable and even reminded me a tiny bit of Batman's origin story. :D
As a romance, the story didn't work for me, but as a family drama, it worked just fine and I'll be back for more. I know I'm in the minority in my feelings for Eli and it's possible that forthcoming stories may win me over to Eli's side and cause me to believe in his and Alex's romance. In the meantime, while "Playing with Fire" didn't wow me, it did rouse some strong feelings in me and provided several hours of enjoyment.
About the Author:
Kate Meader was raised on romance. An Irish girl, she started with Catherine Cookson and Jilly Cooper novels, and spiced it up with some Mills & Boon. Now based in Chicago, she writes romances of her own, where sexy contemporary alpha heroes and strong heroines match each other quip for quip. When not immersed in tales of brooding mill owners, oversexed equestrians, and men who can rock an apron or a fire hose, Kate lives on the web, katemeader.com.
Praise for the series ~
“Meader packs the flawless second Hot in Chicago romance with superb relationship development…and note-perfect dialogue…The secondary characters play their parts beautifully, and Eli and Alexandra are a captivating couple…”
—Publishers Weekly starred review
“Thank you, Kate Meader, for creating a heroine who does not fit the status quo! The idea of a plus-size female firefighter being described as sexy and irresistible makes this book stand out. Meader also provides readers with steamy sex scenes, colorful characters and riveting dialogue. The themes of staying true to yourself and the impact of family legacies make for an interesting storyline. This tale is a real page-turner.”
—RT Book Reviews four and a half star “scorcher” TOP PICK GOLD review
Series Purchasing Info:
Series Purchasing Info:
►Rekindle the Flame is the prequel e-novella which will publish 11/30/15 for $1.99!
►Flirting with Fire (3/24/15) is first in the series.
►Melting Point (8/31/15) is the mm romance e-novella from the series.GOOGLE PLAY (ebook)
I'm excited to do a Fire Giveaway today for Kate Meader’s Playing with Fire blog tour. This giveaway will include Flirting with Fire and Baby, It’s Cold Outside (which includes Rekindle the Flame, the prequel e-novella which will publish 11/30/15 for $1.99!) You can visit all sites on the blog tour to enter the Fire Giveaways – but keep in mind you can only win once!