Hot for Fireman by Jennifer Bernard

Title: Hot for Fireman (The Bachelor Firemen of San Gabriel #2)

Author: Jennifer Bernard

Genre: Contemporary

Ryan Blake got suspended from the San Gabriel firefighters a year and a half ago for a daredevil act that nearly killed someone. Now he’s back in San Gabriel, fighting to return to the force. He takes a job at a local dive, the Hair of the Dog, while he studies for the test that will get him his job back.

But the real test comes in the form of Katie Dane, bar manager. Katie got stuck running the family bar when her father had a heart attack. The place is losing money like crazy and the insurance is about to lapse. Her desperate solution? Burn the place down, collect a million dollars. The only problem–little does she know, her new bartender is actually a firefighter.

Can a professional fireman and a wannabe firebug ever manage to get along? More importantly, can they stay away from each other and/or keep from ruining each other’s careers? Not likely. This is San Gabriel, after all.

First of all, I have to admit that I haven’t read the first book in this series, The Fireman Who Loved Me, so I didn’t have any ideas or preconceived notions about the characters in this book or what I should expect from this book when I started it. That being said, as part of a contemporary romance series about firefighters, I did have a general idea what HOT FOR FIREMAN would be: something light and flirty and cute.

That’s not what I got at all, as it turns out, and I’m so pleased that I was wrong. I did expect fun, and I did get fun, but this book was also quirkier and darker than I imagined, too.

I loved the flawed nature of our characters. Ryan, the hero, is a man who’s gotten in trouble for his rush judgments and breaking-the-rules behavior, and he’s trying to rehabilitate himself so he can get back to what he loves best, which is firefighting. The darker turn in this novel comes from Ryan’s background, which I very much appreciated because it made him seem very human and much more complex than other contemporary heroes I’ve read.

The heroine, Katie, is the kind of woman I’d love to be and the kind of woman I’d love to be friends with. She can be cranky and tough and completely unapologetic about it all, and I absolutely loved that about her. I appreciate how she keeps running her father’s bar even when she doesn’t want to, and how the measures she takes to figure out what to do with the bar when it’s unsuccessful aren’t necessarily something a typical romance heroine would do. (I think I’m seeing a theme; I love Jennifer Bernard’s characters because they seem flawed and REAL.)

The book’s description does a pretty good job of laying out the main plot details, so I’ll just add a little more about the relationship between the hero and heroine. When they first meet, I wasn’t sure that they would be the kind of people who should end up together. Yes, there was attraction, but their attitudes and personalities weren’t just opposites so much as clashing opposites. I think, however, one of the things I most enjoyed about this book was seeing how these two very different people fell in love and became a couple and, by the end of the book, I couldn’t see them being with anyone else except for each other.

I really enjoyed this quirky, fun, and sometimes dark novel by Jennifer Bernard, and would recommend it especially if you’re looking for something outside of the usual romance fare. (One warning: fires and firefighters do play a role in this book, but as the hero is trying to earn his job back, the station and firefighting is not a central setting.)

Grade: A-

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