Sex and the Single Fireman
This book was a hard one for me to grade. For the first half of Sex and the Single Fireman, I had a love/hate relationship – I neither loved anything about it nor did I hate anything about it. By the end of the book, my opinion had improved. While I wouldn’t put this on my keeper shelf, it proved to be an entertaining read.
Firefighter Sabina Jones is spending another Thanksgiving alone, heading to Reno in order to forget her loneliness. While en route, she encounters a stranger who later appears at her hotel. The attraction between them is mutual and white-hot, and the two almost engage in an electric one-night stand before Sabina thinks better of it and flees. Imagine her shock when the stranger turns out to be her new boss, Battalion Chief Rick Roman.
No-nonsense, tough guy Rick Roman has come from New York City to San Gabriel in order to put a stop to the firestation’s reputation as the home of the Bachelor Firemen. A single dad who lost his wife in the 9/11 tragedy, he jumped at the chance to move to the warm, California climate so his son, Luke, could play baseball year round. What Roman never expected was to be attracted to one of his firefighters, Sabina Jones. Nor is he prepared to handle the media fall-out when it is revealed that Sabina is actually a former child TV star in hiding.
Sabina has spent the past ten years distancing herself from her Hollywood past. But when her former agent and her famous mother use every means possible to try to get Sabina to participate in a reunion TV show, her carefully constructed world crumbles. With the media and the fire department’s top brass focused on her every move, Sabina knows a relationship with Roman – her superior – is not an option. But neither she nor Roman seems able to ignore the attraction that keeps drawing them together.
Both Sabina and Roman are likeable characters. Sabina had an annoying tendency to jump to the wrong conclusion, and I held my breath every time she attributed the exact wrong intentions to someone, waiting for a Big Misunderstanding to rear its ugly head. Thankfully, author Jennifer Bernard never let Sabina wallow too long with her wrong assumptions, and I appreciated that Roman was a straight forward guy who insisted on clearing things up. Their chemistry was well-drawn, their attraction to each other believable and built on more than just looks. I especially liked the can’t-hold-back-any-longer scenes that resulted in some pretty steamy encounters.
I found the original reason for Roman’s arrival at the San Gabriel firestation to be somewhat thin. I wasn’t exactly sure what Roman, a training officer, was supposed to do to stop what amounted to a media problem. Given that the firehouse worked efficiently and the firefighters always did a bang up job, I didn’t understand why this was a problem to begin with. Adding inconsistency, at one point the firefighters come up with a fundraising idea that builds on their reputation as hunks, go on TV to promote it, and Roman is actually praised for their efforts. Perhaps what was needed were some examples of how the media attention was interfering with station work, because I never got over my “who cares?” reaction to this supposed problem.
As far as the conflicts interfering with Roman and Sabina’s romance, I found the emphasis to be placed on the wrong one – that of the media storm caused when Sabina is outed as a former child star. At one point, Roman’s boss wants to get rid of Sabina because of the media attention, something that didn’t affect her job in any way. All I could think about was the solid case Sabina would have for a wrongful termination lawsuit. Rather, I found a bigger problem in the fact that Roman was Sabina’s superior officer and thus a relationship was off limits, but this issue was treated somewhat passingly.
A tiny nitpick in the form of defining a character by one physical attribute caused me to roll my eyes. One thing I know for sure about Roman is that he’s big. Time and again we are told how large Roman is. He towers over people and fills a room. I got the picture soon enough and began to make a game of how many scenes contained a reminder of how huge he is. I think most readers are capable of retaining a visual without such an over emphasis.
I could have done without a small subplot involving homophobia, but otherwise the pacing was good, and I did want to know how Sabina and Roman would work out their issues. While the ending was telegraphed fairly early on, Bernard sprinkled enough hints throughout the story that it didn’t come over as a complete change of character.
This title is one in a series of connected books, but it works fine as a stand-alone. While I can’t see myself reading it again (my requirement for an A grade), I can recommend it to anyone looking for a light read about two likeable characters.