Desert Isle Keeper

Sparking the Fire

Kate Meader

Sparking the Fire is a sparkling, sexy, second-chance romance between Wyatt Fox and Molly Cade and is the latest (possibly last?) instalment of Ms. Meader’s Hot in Chicago series about a family of firefighters. It’s a story of fighting for yourself and your family in a world where privacy is often a tenuous concept, of taking the big risk to trust someone else after years of betrayal, and a happily-ever-after that comes with both warm fuzzies and Kindle-melting moments. While technically a standalone, this is a series where reading all the books makes the experience richer as all the narratives are entangled. Even better still is that all the books are this good.

We meet Molly Cade when she’s wrapping up in a run of a musical in Chicago. She’s on her way to audition for a big Hollywood blockbuster, but has no idea if anything will pan out. What she does know that is that for the past six days, she’s been having a no-names sex romp with a man she met at a bar and it has been delicious. The audition means this is their last night together, but she’s sure she’ll never forget him.

Fast-forward five years and Molly Cade is “America’s Fallen Sweetheart”. She married the co-star from that first movie and her star rose rapidly. Recently, however, intimate photos of her were leaked to the tabloids in the midst of an ugly divorce. She’s in Chicago to film a movie that she’s banking quite a lot on – if it’s successful, the narrative will be that she rose above the drama, and if it’s not, then her career is most likely over.

In the movie, she’s hoping to tell the story of Alex Dempsey, who was the heroine of an earlier book in the series, Playing With Fire.  However, she needs clearance from Alex to use specific details and she’s been stonewalled on attempts to get permission. Thus, in a work around, she requests that a member of Alex’s engine company be on set for stunt supervision and authenticity checks.

Wyatt Fox is one of the famed Dempsey family, a rag-tag bunch forged together through foster care, birth, and adoption. They’re fierce folks, and not just because they run towards fire on a regular basis. Wyatt is the quiet one. A former Marine whose personal modus operandi is to do his job, love his family, and keep his head down, he begrudgingly accepts the assignment from his captain to head to Molly’s set. Begrudging not because he doesn’t want to see Molly, but because of his desire for privacy.

The minute that Molly sees Wyatt, the memories flood back. Wyatt, of course, has been seeing her all over movie screens and magazine covers for five years, and his desire for her has not diminished. Their chemistry picks up right where it left off, only this time they’re honest about their names.

While Wyatt and Molly are busy falling in love and having lots of sexy times while they’re at it, the small dramas of life swirl around them. There’s a secret Wyatt’s been keeping from his family and the revelation of that secret has consequences. Molly’s ex-husband is a narcissistic cretin who continues to make her life difficult. Wyatt hates public attention, but Molly’s job comes with it. Molly hates who those photos have made her out to be, and struggles to escape the shame spiral she’s put herself on.

I said in the introduction that this is a story of fighting for both yourself and your family, and that’s a core tenet of this series. For the Dempseys, family matters above all. It’s tough and complicated, but they consistently choose each other. The whole family unit and the self-identity of each member are linked; they can’t be their true selves without each other. This is part of what Molly is drawn to, but something she’s never really experienced. As she’s embraced by the family, particularly by Gage and his boyfriend Brady, she finds power to embrace her true self. It’s not that her self-discovery comes only through Wyatt, or that her sense of identity is gained only through her relationship with him, but when someone’s sense of self is stripped away, sometimes they have to draw strength through the love of others to regain their own power. That’s exactly what Molly does in this story.

I have truly loved these books and would recommend them highly to any fans of sassy, sexy, contemporary romance. I think, however, Sparking the Fire may be my favorite. I’ll have to read them all again to be sure, though, so excuse me while I find my favorite fuzzy blanket and hibernate for a wee while.

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Book Details

Reviewer :      Kristen Donnelly

Grade :     A-

Sensuality :      Warm

Book Type :     

Review Tags :     


  1. Dabney Grinnan September 25, 2016 at 9:09 am - Reply

    I so love the characters in this series. My favorite book is Playing with Fire–gods, I love Eli–but I’ve enjoyed hanging out with all the Dempseys and their friends.

  2. Emily Wittmann September 25, 2016 at 11:57 am - Reply

    I’ve enjoyed this series but this was my least favorite. On second thought, I think the first, Flirting with Fire , was my least favorite, but I think that was mostly due to Ms. Meader being a new to me author. It took me a bit to get involved with the characters and the family & start to enjoy the series.

    I was curious about Wyatt & who he would end up with, but I never imagined it would be Molly. Her character was a bit too clichéd ‘Hollywood actress who just wants to be loved/understood’ & I struggled to believe the quiet, introverted Wyatt could be happy with her. Their relationship seemed more about sex (and Wyatt’s love affair with Molly’s yoga pants) and less about their emotional connection to one another. I also thought Ms. Meader tried to throw one too many plots into this one – the niece, the stalker, the secret keeping…It was too much.

    As a series, I think they earn a B from me; Playing with Fire was also my favorite.

    • Dabney Grinnan September 25, 2016 at 1:23 pm - Reply

      I’m mostly with you. I liked the people in this book more than the romance.

  3. RichMissTallant September 25, 2016 at 4:50 pm - Reply

    I’ve been on the fence about reading this one. This series has been really uneven for me (I kinda feel like I’m in the minority with this). This review has convinced me to give it a shot…but maybe wait until it goes on sale or something.

  4. Kristen Donnelly September 26, 2016 at 8:29 am - Reply

    Dabney, Eli is certainly something else and he may well be my favorite hero.

    Emily, that’s so funny because I assumed Wyatt would end up with someone who shocked him out of his shell and Molly fit for me. Something about them just ticked all my boxes. I really liked your point about needing to know the characters for this series to work. I went back and forth a lot on if I could even recommend this as a one-off novel because of how Ms. Meader has crafted this family. It’s why I added the word “technically” to the intro paragraph. My intro to the world was Playing with Fire and I’d probably pick that as the starting point for most folks.

    RichMissTallant – if you do choose to give Molly and Wyatt a go, I hope you enjoy it! However, if it’s been uneven for you, then know that this book (to me) is pretty typical of the series.

    • RichMissTallant September 26, 2016 at 11:25 am - Reply

      Meader isn’t a bad writer, so the unevenness for me has been how much I’ve disliked some of the protagonists. Found the first novella mostly forgettable, COULD NOT STAND Luke, hated Eli so much in Luke’s book that I almost didn’t read his book and then ended up having a love/hate relationship with him in Playing With Fire, but I loved Gage and Brady in their novella (woo! I needed a cold shower after that one). On the other hand, I’ve mostly liked the female characters. I’m interested to see if it’s flipped this time. Maybe I’ll love Wyatt and want to throttle Molly. Or maybe I’ll like them both!

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