I know a ton of people who love romances featuring sexy firefighters, but I’ve never considered myself to be one of them. However, when I learned that J.R. Ward, the creator of the fabulous Black Dagger Brotherhood novels, had written the first book in a new series about a group of firefighters, I knew I had to give it a shot, and I’m so very glad I did.
Anne Washburn loves nothing more than fighting fires. She loves the adrenalin rush that comes from risking her life day after day, and she thrives on the family atmosphere that pervades the firehouse where she works. She’s closer to her fellow firefighters than she’s ever been to her mother and brother, and she can’t imagine her life without them in it. But one night and one careless mistake will cost Anne everything she holds dear, forcing her to re-examine her life, her career, her family, and her feelings for Danny McGuire, the best fireman in the county.
Danny will never stop blaming himself for what happened to Anne. True, it was her recklessness that caused her to be trapped in a burning building, but Danny hates the fact that he was forced to cut off her hand in a last-ditch effort to get her out alive. He’s definitely glad she survived, but he knows she’ll have a hard time adjusting to her new way of life. Plus, he’s sure she won’t want anything at all to do with him, and the thought of not interacting with her is one of the hardest things he’s ever had to deal with.
After her accident, Anne takes a job as an arson investigator. It’s a far cry from actually fighting fires, but Anne is a practical woman who sees no sense in yearning to do a job she is physically unable to perform, and once she starts looking into a series of suspicious fires, she discovers a new kind of rush that comes from matching wits with a dangerous criminal. The fact that her investigation will force her to work in close proximity to Danny also helps to make her new job palatable.
Both Anne and Danny were a bit difficult for me to warm up to. They’re both incredibly angry people, especially during the first half of the book. I was initially put off by the giant chips they seemed to be carrying on their shoulders, and I did wonder how two such obviously damaged people would be able to make a romantic relationship work, but Ms. Ward manages to create very convincing back stories for them both, and I was soon completely sold on the idea of them as a couple.
The chemistry between Danny and Anne is one of the best parts about Consumed, and from the very start of the novel, I could tell they were deeply attracted to one another. Circumstances keep them apart for a time, but I never doubted the depth of their feelings. Their personalities complement one another perfectly, and once the obstacles to their relationship are removed, their love is a joy to behold.
The suspense part of the story is a bit more understated than I was expecting, and although I would have liked something a little more intense, I can see why Ms. Ward chose to build it up fairly slowly. It allows Danny and Anne to spend a great deal of time together, time they spend dealing with their feelings for one another as well as their past traumas. Watching them figure things out on both a personal and a romantic front contributes to the authentic feeling of the romance, something that doesn’t always happen in today’s romantic suspense.
Consumed turned out to be a fantastic blend of romance, action, and suspense. I was surprised by just how much I enjoyed getting to know the cast of characters Ms. Ward has created here; I had felt pretty sure I’d find them to be way too macho for my taste, but this didn’t turn out to be the case at all. Many of Ms. Ward’s firefighters are on the volatile side, and I’m pretty sure all of them could do with a good dose of talk therapy, but they’re a surprisingly lovable group, and I’m eager to see what future books in the series have in store for them.