Desert Isle Keeper
Sparking the Fire
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.