Yearly Reading Challenges

This blog contains my book reviews for my yearly reading challenges. See all my reviews at

Monday, February 13, 2012

TBR Reading Challenge 2012- Personal Challenge

Where There's Smoke by M.J. Fredrick

TBR Challenge 2012- Personal challenge (books on my list before 2011): This has been on my to-read list since June 2010.

3.5/5 Grade B

After reading Hot Shot, I was expecting this book to be another firefighter romantic suspense. I should've read the description more carefully. This involves a firefighter, but it isn't a romantic suspense, it's straight contemporary romance with a friends-to-lovers theme. That's not necessarily bad, but it wasn't what I was expecting.

This is a compelling book on several levels, and I'm glad I read it. But it wasn't all fun. The characters in this book are something of a train-wreck. There is a lot of emotional angst going on, so don't expect a light-and-fluffy story. Far from light, this story delves painfully deep into emotions such as trust, betrayal, keeping secrets, guilt, and anger.

I appreciate that the author didn't look for unrealistically easy answers to the problems her characters and their families are experiencing. Not much is tied up in neat bows at the end of the book, and some of the more despicable characters don't get the smack-down a reader may feel they deserve. On the other hand, the author lets Seth, the male lead of the story, off way too easy in my opinion. For much of the book he comes across as a thoughtless, selfish character, too weak to handle his relationship with Lauren in a mature way. To believe in any happy-ever-after for the couple I would need to see Seth really grapple with his weakness and make some conscious choices to grow up.

And can I say one more thing about the friends-to-lovers story line? Why is it always about a drop-dead-gorgeous guy who sleep with everything that moves and the pretty but not all that experienced girl-next-door? In these stories she's always figuring she's not good enough for the guy, and how he's had all these dozens of beautiful babes while she dated the boring accountant or something. Give it a rest, authors. Give us a normal guy and a normal girl and let's watch them fall in love. 

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