Hearts Afire by Monique McDonell
This book was gifted to me by a friend. She’d bought the book herself and suggested I read it. I have to admit, the cover made me a bit skeptical. It comes across as very humorous and honestly, it didn’t really grab my attention.
And that is the worst part because it was actually a very enjoyable read. Ok, it wasn’t blow my socks off and book me in for a three day book hangover great, but, it was good.
This story starts out a little different to your usual romance novel. For a start, our heroine is in the middle of a crisis/traumatic experience. Well, I’d certainly call being left at the alter before you even get to it traumatic! Cassie Callahan is supposed to be celebrating the happiest day of her life and yet here she is surrounded by ruined food, drenched surfaced and a once beautiful, now water damaged, kitchen. She was catering her own wedding! Crazy woman. But after Angus (We don’t like him by the way) calls off the wedding, Cassie has to deal with the aftermath of disposing of the food and calling the guests. Something she does with the ‘help’ of her twenty year old sister Lisa. Big mistake. If you call helping almost setting fire to your sister’s business and place of work on possibly the most horrific day of her life and causing the sprinklers to completely trash the place…then Lisa nails it!
Sitting in a puddle, wondering where the hell her life turned into such a mess, Cassie is brought back to reality by our hero. And when I say hero…I mean it. Jack Urquhart is a fireman. He’s tall, gorgeous and so hot he could set those sprinklers off again just by being in the room! He can’t help but rescue the damsel sitting on the floor in front of him. Her mascara is running and she’s a mess but damn it, he just can’t leave her like that. Offering her a shoulder to cry on, they both feel the simmering and instantaneous attraction between them. But, ignoring it, they go their separate ways. Jack is heading to his best friend’s wedding and Cassie is taking Lisa with her on her honeymoon. Why waste a good holiday right?
At the airport, Cassie is ready to set off for the tropical island. The white sandy beaches, the luxury hotel room, the spa and the moonlit walks she and Angus should have been taking. But instead she has her immature, spoiled and at times, exhausting and exasperating, sister with her. Already I was thinking…Urgh. But then, our wonderful fireman appears! Turns out they’re all going to the same island! Cassie’s trip just got that little bit more interesting. Ok, so I know she’s just been dumped and is nursing a broken heart but rebound sex is totally fine in my book. But, this isn’t my book, it’s Monique McDonell’s and Cassie is certainly not interested in pursuing a romantic or hot, kinky liaison with the hot fireman. Jack can’t help his attraction to Cassie. And seeing her now dried off, dressed and looking absolutely stunning, he’s thinking more and more that Cassie Callahan may be in need of rescuing in a lot of ways. But, knowing she’s a jilted bride on the rebound, he decides to keep his distance.
But they just can’t seem to stay away from each other. They bump in to one another everywhere! Breakfast, the beach, the pool, you name it. Seems our fireman used to work there on the island.
With lots of cat and mouse, flirting and some annoying little bride to be going on, the two of them find the attraction building as well as the feeling that the two should stay away. Jack doesn’t do the long term thing and as it turns out, Cassie has his number almost instantly and is calling him on his toolish ways. He likes women and he certainly has a reputation on the island as a ladies man. Cassie doesn’t want to be a notch in his belt and Jack isn’t interested in a clingy jilted bride. But, boy, does he like her. The flirting and attraction reaches a fever point during their break on the island and some kissing happens. I was a little surprised to see how easily the two were able to just ignore this heat between them though. They just carried on as normal. Bit unusual but there you go.
Cassie has a crippling fear of the water so I couldn’t quite understand why she would choose to board a catamaran that is heading out for a day of scuba and snorkeling but after finding out Jack is there too…I got the idea. She decides to confide in him about why she is so afraid of the water. A family tragedy at sea and the loss of her parents meant Cassie became the sole and legal guardian of her, then, twelve year old sister. A sister that is being a pain in the a** all the way through the book if you ask me. And yes, Cassie, you did a good job raising her but yes, she is spoiled and annoying. I couldn’t get past that about the two of them. How Cassie allowed Lisa to get away with her bulls**t I have no idea.
Anyway, seems Jack also has some secrets about his past but we don’t find out about all that till much later. Jack’s best friend Danny is marrying Carla. Carla is in to Jack, always has been and is a b**ch. -Enough said. Jack isn’t interested and makes sure she knows it. Danny’s mom provides some fun and humor and I really like her no nonsense attitude toward Jack and his manwhore ways. Especially when she points out to him how much he actually likes Cassie. I’s tapping my kindle like “well, duh!”
After leaving the island early and not saying goodbye to Jack, Cassie, decides to move in to the house she and Angus bought. After all, it’s her place and he’s god knows where. And guess who happens to be her neighbor!? Yeah, you guessed it, Jack. Another coincidence and I did smile at this one, especially when he is eying the lingerie hanging on the line and thinking about Cassie. Of course the readers know it is Cassie’s. Cue more flirting, cat and mouse, attraction and Jack having an epiphany, at last, about how he feels about Cassie and we have a romance. Cassie wants Jack to open up about his past and Jack decides he will do this and let her know how he feels at the same time. He just has to do it fast and even more so when Angus turns up again. I was hoping for a bit of a fight for the girl between Jack and Angus and was disappointed that I didn’t get one.
Eventually the two figure it out and we get our happy ending, even if it did leave me screaming “Are you f**king kidding me!” at the end. I mean, she JUST got dumped and hardly knows the guy! You’ll see what I’m talking about.
But, in the end, I liked it. I liked the character development and I liked Cassie’s fiery temperament (see what I did there? Fire?) I liked the back and forth and the buildup of the relationship and romance. I liked that they didn’t rush or rebound. There were some minor editing issues but I was able to overlook them. The storyline was light and the book itself was a nice, easy read.
A nice sweet treat for an afternoon of reading and cuddling.