*I received a free copy of Controlled Burn from Carina Press via Netgalley. This has in no way influenced my voluntary review, which is honest and unbiased *
Warning: This book includes mature content such as: sexual content, and/or drug and/or alcohol use, and/or violence.
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.
Both Jess and Rick were strong characters, with the odds stacked against them, thus making Controlled Burn both beautiful and a little melancholy.
My Controlled Burn review:
Controlled Burn starts with Jess going to Boston for the first time, to meet her grandparents for the first time after her grandfather had a slightly bad fall, and Jess’s father was unavailable to do anything for them. Because Rick had been her grandparents’ tenant for the past few years, they were like family, and Rick was quite suspicious of Jess’s motivations for showing up now that her grandparents might have to sell their house and move into a senior citizen community to take better care of themselves. Of course, the fact that Rick was suspicious of Jess didn’t escape her notice, and she had her own suspicions when it came to him as well. However, the chemistry and sexual tension between the two of them made it difficult for both to think straight.
Controlled Burn unfolded very nicely, with Jess getting to know Boston, her grandparents and Rick while staying for a few weeks. It was clear from the beginning that the relationship between Jess’s father and her grandparents was very distant, as they didn’t even know they had a grand-child. However, staying in their house, sharing meals, memories and hope made this new relationship one that was very sweet. The relationship between Rick and Jess was hotter, but also a bit tentative, where they were both trying to hold back – not wanting anything serious to happen.
The character development was well done, and I felt like I got to know both Jess and Rick as well as the minor characters quite well. I especially enjoyed how both Jess and Rick were able to open up to what was happening between them, figuring out that life was definitely about more than having a job they enjoyed, and good friends to hang out with in their free time. Written in third person point of view, past tense and mostly from both Jess’s and Rick’s perspective, Controlled Burn was a very good contemporary romance, but it ended a bit abruptly, with many issues still needing to be resolved.
Some of my favorite Controlled Burn quotes:
He woke up just before six the next morning with a stiff neck and groaned. A nice king-sized bed in the next room, and he slept on the damn couch. Being able to sleep anywhere, in almost any position, made his job easier, but it sure sucked when he did it at home.
Marie’s immediate willingness to sacrifice her own happiness for her son’s despite the fact he’d abandoned them and broken her heart was something Jessica had a hard time understanding.
Reading this book contributed to these challenges: