Rating: 3 stars out of 5
Like others in this Dreamspun Desires series, this is a sweet M/M romance. The new fireman in town is Dale Maloney. His recent breakup from his long-term partner has shown him that it didn’t pay to stay in the closet at his last job so he immediately comes out to his fellow firefighters. They’re okay with him but rib him over many other things, including backing the rig into the town’s maypole. A historic pole, it’s a well-known centerpiece and the “lord of the manor” comes after Dale with a vengeance.
Ben Raleigh, the Baron Calminster, literally comes up to Dale and starts telling him off. Later embarrassed by yelling back and by what he says, the two stand toe-to-toe in the town square shouting at each other. But more than just a fight over the maypole takes place during this confrontation. The spark of an attraction is kindled. (Firefighter pun intended.)
Over time, the two get to know each other and they take a long slow-burn romantic route to consummating their love. Along the way, though, there’s plenty of small arson fires, a mystery to solve, and a decision Ben needs to make about coming out of the closet. Though he doesn’t know it, that secret really isn’t one at all. Ben has never been a stand-offish landowner, so his “people” know very well that he’s gay and that he’s fallen for Dale.
There’s a side plot about a woman named Sabrina who was dating Ben before Dale came on the scene. Ben breaks up with her and ends up with her as his new attorney. She helps him get clear of her father, who had really been behind their romance in the first place. He wants to merge the companies, and even near the end of the story, he’s still complaining that he won’t stop until he has his hands on Calminster Hall.
Without giving away the ending, I will say that I felt like the Sabrina thread and the business end of that with her father felt like they were dropped. Going back over the story, I see the threads were wrapped up, but they did still feel as if they were going to culminate in more drama. Maybe that’s because these stories follow old tropes and other authors have added that drama so I just assumed this one would as well.
Nevertheless, the story remained sweet, but not overly dramatic, and not anything I’d rate higher than 3 stars. If you are loving these Dreamspun books, and you enjoy a UK story with a good deal of local politics and lingo, you should definitely enjoy this one.
Cover art by Bree Archer features a handsome shirtless fireman in turnout gear, carrying a kitten. He’s placed against a background featuring a large country mansion. The mansion would be Calminster Hall so represents Ben. It’s bright and colorful and eye-catching.
ebook, 220 pages
Expected publication: October 15th 2017 by Dreamspinner Press
Edition Language English