Review: Burning Up – Jennifer Blackwood

Review: Burning Up – Jennifer BlackwoodBurning Up
by Jennifer Blackwood
Series: Flirting with Fire #1
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Publication Date: May 8, 2018
Genres: Romance
Pages: 253
Source: NetGalley

I received an advance review copy of this book from NetGalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

USA Today bestselling author Jennifer Blackwood fans the flames of desire in her smoking-hot series about firefighters and the women who want them…

Unemployed schoolteacher Erin Jenkins is back in Portland, the town she hasn’t called home for more than a decade. It’s not the way she wants to spend her last days of summer: in between jobs and avoiding her mother’s snooping by escaping to the ice-cream aisle. But when the opportunity arises for her to accompany her brother’s best friend—her lifetime crush—to a wedding, summer gets a whole lot more interesting.

Firefighter and single dad Jake Bennett has built a nice, safe wall around his heart—no romance, no getting burned. That doesn’t mean he’s ruling out a fling. Considering Erin’s visit is temporary, they’re the perfect fit for a scorching no-strings one-night stand. Or two. Or five. Until the worst thing happens: Erin and Jake are feeling more. Damn that four-letter word.

Now their hearts are on the line, and when their smoldering summer comes to a close, it’s going to be harder than ever to put out the fire.

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In theory, this should’ve worked for me – childhood crush on her brother’s best friend, “fake dating” and forced proximity – but, unfortunately, something just felt missing.

“That morning, I’d just been accepted into an elite training for a hotshot crew. And then Maisey dropped the bomb. So I threw out my one wish to the universe.”
“What did you wish for?” she asked.
The muscle in his jaw feathered as he stared at the fountain. “I hoped I’d be good enough for my kid.”
Erin swallowed hard. She realized that this was prob- ably the day that Jake had turned from a bad boy into a good man. And she felt slightly guilty because the rst thing she’d wish for—if she did believe in wishes—would not be something so altruistic. Maybe she’d save that for the third or fourth penny.
“I never looked back. She’s always come first.”

Erin took off for college in California without telling her family – and now, after a Master’s degree and several years as a middle school science teacher, she’s back for the summer, jobless and already ready to leave again.  Jake is a fighter fighter, and one of Erin’s brother’s best friends.  He’s a single dad to Bailey, who’s twelve, and has pretty much built his world around being everything for her, since her mother abandoned them both when Bailey was a few days old.  When they have a funny meet cute at a bagel shop, sparks fly, and Jake impulsively asks her to be his plus-one to his sister’s wedding.  Both agree nothing can happen between them, though – Erin’s got one foot out the door to go back to California, and Jake doesn’t want to break Bailey’s (or his) heart with someone who won’t stay – or can it?

There’s very little angst or drama in this book, and there’s some pretty funny moments (the bagel incident, for one, or raccoons infesting Erin’s hotel room so that she has to room with Jake), but it also felt like a deeper connection between Erin and Jake was missing.  He continually ran so hot and cold on having a relationship with her that by the end of the book I was half rooting for her to dump his butt and head back to California.  I especially didn’t like that part of Jake’s resistance to dating Erin was that he somehow thought he needed her brother’s permission.  After the whole book of them going back and forth about whether they should be dating at all, I found the ending abrupt, and I wasn’t completely sold on Erin’s reasoning, or that she wasn’t staying simply because of Jake.

Part of this was because I felt like there was a lot of things with Erin’s family left up in the air.  Her family relationships were contentious, to say the least.  She doesn’t get along with her firefighter older brother who’s been in a grouchy mood since his longterm girlfriend dumped him.  She doesn’t get along with her younger sister, who mysteriously dropped out of college.  She doesn’t get along with her mom – and this part, at least, I understood, since her mom was completely overbearing.  I did find it hilarious that though her mom is famous for her gourmet PB&J food truck in downtown Portland, Erin prefers Jif to her homemade peanut butter.  It’s Erin’s entire response to life in a nutshell – go for the expected easy thing rather than deal with her family or anything hard.  At the end of the book, while Erin had taken steps to repair those relationships, I wasn’t left feeling confident that she’d be able to manage that.  I understand this is the start of a series, so I’m guessing the next books will be about her siblings, but I wish we’d had more resolution on Erin’s side.

Overall, while I think my review reads as mostly negative, it was still an enjoyable story, though I’m not sure I’ll pick up the next book in the series.  If you like romances with a childhood crush or single dads, I’d still recommend this book to you.

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