by Meka James
Series: Love On Madison Island #2
Also in this series: Renovation Of Love, Mechanics of Love
Publisher: Jazen Ink Press
Publication Date: June 21, 2021
Source: the author
I received an advance review copy of this book from the author. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.My rating:
A fire claims her bakery, but the young special investigator sent to determine the cause just might scorch through the barriers around her heart…
Regina Parker has four loves: her family, friends, business, and her community. A serious relationship hasn’t been on her radar since she became a widow. Life is exactly how she wants until it all goes up in smoke. Literally. The attractive outsider called in to help is a distraction she doesn’t need.
Firefighter Alec Hodge is eager to spread his wings and the assignment in Madison Island, GA gives him the chance. A suspicious blaze may have brought him to the small town, but enigmatic Regina keeps him coming back.
Sparks fly. Passions ignite. But when revelations hit like a backdraft, the newly kindled relationship could be snuffed out before it really has a chance to burn.
I very much enjoyed the first book in this series, so I was excited to see what was in store for Cynthia’s friend Regina – especially with the events surrounding her family bakery in the last book. And I was not disappointed. This is a delightful age gap romance between a baker and firefighter and I loved every bit!
Regina has lived her entire life on Madison Island, and her pride and joy is running the family’s bakery. But some days are worse than others, especially after an employee she trusted embezzled money – and then the bakery burned down. The only thing she can do is keep going, and hopefully the arrival of the Special Investigator from the Savannah fire department will hurry along the insurance company so she can start rebuilding. Alec recently transferred from Atlanta and even the smaller city of Savannah seems too quaint for him. From the moment he meets Regina, however, the tiny town of Madison Island starts to work its charms on him – or maybe that’s just Regina. There’s something there between them that he can’t help but want to explore, and Regina’s insistence on a no-strings-attached one-night-stand (once his favorite thing) suddenly seems like not enough. But with Regina firmly ensconced on Madison Island and him biding time until he can get enough experience to go back to Atlanta, there’s not much chance of a serious relationship between them – or is there?
“Well, either you want to jump my bones right here and now in the middle of this mess, or you’re looking at me like I’m suspect number one. Which one is it?”
“Are you always this forward?”
“Yes. Life is too short, and I am too damn old to be beating around the fucking bush. If I want to know something I ask.”
Regina is delightfully straight-forward, and she doesn’t hesitate to tell it straight to anyone, even a guy she just met. Her job at the bakery is a lot of work, but she loves it, and she loves carrying on the family tradition. Even the bakery burning down is just another setback, and she’s dealt with those before. What she doesn’t have time for is a relationship. She’s got her friends, her son in college, and her job – she doesn’t need anything else. Alec’s family is happy that he’s finally going out on less calls now that he’s got more of a desk job, but now they’re on to nagging him to settle down. Unlike his twin brother, though, he’s happy playing the field – at least until he meets Regina. She’s easy to talk to, and her similarly easy brush of any idea of a relationship suddenly hits him the wrong way. Alec’s the first to acknowledge that he wants more, and while Regina eventually gets there as well, she’s more willing to blame it on a reaction to the stressful circumstances rather than anything special about him. But his concern for her (and her business) go a long way to breaking down her walls.
“I’d never pictured our thirty-plus-year-long friendship as anything out of the norm. We simply were. Through thick and thin, we persisted. And it wasn’t to say we never had disagreements and that everything was always sunshine and rainbows. That would be unrealistic. Respect came in many forms, as did love. And I loved those women and always would. Over the years, we’d proved multiple times that the feeling was mutual.”
I loved the friendship between Regina, Cynthia and Irene. It was one of my favorite parts of the last book, and it’s just as important in this one. Cynthia doesn’t hesitate to push Regina on her dating history – or lack of it – but it’s out of love. The whole town of Madison Island is frankly lovely, though Regina does admit it has its downsides, like how everyone is all up in her business. But it also means they’re all there to support her to try to keep the bakery afloat in any way they can.
“I don’t need anyone to take care of me.” She said the words, but her eyes closed as I kneaded the ball of her foot.
“What if I want to? What if I want to rub your feet at the end of a long day? What if I want to listen to you complain about any and everything? Maybe you think you don’t need anyone to take care of you, but you have me here applying for the job anyway.”
Overall, look, this is two Black folks who are good at what they do falling in love, surrounded by family and friends who love them. If that’s not the perfect formula for a summer read, I don’t know what is. I can’t wait to read Irene’s book – and now I’m kinda hoping Remi, the mechanic, gets a book as well!