Tag Archives: firefighters

Donny’s journey to self-acceptance is hard fought

60423814._SY475_Hot Wings by Eli Easton & Tara Lain

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It takes a lot to turn around a homophobic character and make them into someone who you can find sympathy for but with Donny Canali, his journey was both heart-felt and hard fought.

From the moment he stood up for his younger brother Mike when he realised that keeping his sexuality a secret was taking such a toll on the trainee firefighter, Donny has been struggling with how his previous homophobic behaviour has hurt people.

When he’s knocked for six by what he thinks is hero worship for former Army pilot and now fire bomber Dell Murphy, it takes some time for him to realise what he’s also feeling is a powerful attraction to the self-described alpha male

And Donny fights it, he does his best to fight it because, like Mike, he’s been brought up in family of men’s men who serve either as cops or firefighters, who are strong-willed and opinionated – and also old-fashioned and ignorant – in their views about masculinity.

Dell, on the other hand, is out and proud and has never sought to hide his sexuality, instead going to the max to show that who he prefers in bed has nothing to do with how he either flew helicopter missions in Afghanistan or how he now uses those skills to rescue trapped firefighters.

He also has a complicated family life. After moving when he took up his new role, Dell’s strong willed but flighty mother is struggling to let his younger half-sister regain her independence after a bout with cancer and Dell’s having to take care of them too.

The more time the two men spend together as friends, the more complicated their feelings become and, eventually it becomes clear that Donny wants to submit to Dell’s powerful personality but is frightened of how it might change peoples’ perceptions of him.

I really felt for Donny throughout this. He’s 25 but sometimes comes across as younger, he’s in a high-pressure role as a firefighter where his dad Angelo’s not only in charge as a senior Fire Captain but as the role model who Donny’s always looked up to. He sees his dad struggling with Mike’s coming out and is afraid of what his feelings for Dell might do to their relationship.

There were many times when I wanted to just give Donny and shake and tell him that his happiness was the only thing worth worrying about but I also totally understood how his fears were overwhelming given the previous experience he’d seen with Mike.

When things reach a critical level, I totally understood why Donny got himself caught up in a web of lies and I was pleased Dell didn’t stand for it. My heart hurt for Dell, who had found himself falling for Donny despite the complications.

Donny’s journey is both confusing for him, as he realises not only is he bisexual but that he also doesn’t want to be the dominant partner in bed, it also has wider implications for his job and his relationship with his father.

I definitely preferred this to book one as I felt the distinction of what type of story was being told was much clearer. It’s not a romcom style of story, but there is humour which breaks up the more serious moments.

This narrative skirts a tight line between the light-hearted joking of the Canali family and their extended relatives and the harshness of a sexual awakening journey which is painful not only to the men going through it but also further complicated by the situation they’re in.

I am intrigued as to what comes next. A few obvious hints were given in this book which I won’t spoil but I know what I’d like to see next!

#ARC kindly received from the authors in return for an honest and unbiased review

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An interesting and different paced return to her firefighting crew

Up In Smoke coverUp in Smoke by Annabeth Albert

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Annabeth Albert’s return to her firefighting crew has some highlights but also left me frustrated at times.

Both Brandt and Shane have deep insecurities which make them hesitant and, while I totally understand, it also made the romance feel a bit more subdued.

Having said that, I adored the family aspect of the narrative, Jewel was a little sweetheart for all that she’s a tiny baby .

I felt the connection both men had with her grow strongly while they fought their feelings for each other.

Another thing which made me happy, and I absolutely agreed with Annabeth’s explanation in her author note, was the lack of any job related fire drama.

While there are still incidents, there wasn’t the bone deep fear of something happening out on a major incident and I appreciated it.

The relationship itself fluctuates between consuming passion, it’s hot how much Brandt is into being on the receiving end of Shane’s touches, and angsty panic.

Ultimately though, alls well in the end as each man comes to realise he can rely on the other to support and encourage, love and protect.

The Epilogue set two years later, is wonderfully sweet and gives a very definite Happy Ever After.

#ARC kindly received from the publisher Carina Press via NetGalley in return for an honest and unbiased review.

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Blog Tour: Feel The Fire by Annabeth ALbert

Feel The Fire | Annabeth Albert

Hotshots #3


Release Date: October 26th, 2020

Publisher: Carina Press

Length: 336 pages

Buy Links:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Feel-Fire-Hotshots-Book-3-ebook/dp/B086WL2DJM

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/feel-the-fire-annabeth-albert/1136821826

Apple: https://books.apple.com/us/book/feel-the-fire/id1506928358

Google: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Annabeth_Albert_Feel_the_Fire?id=9PLbDwAAQBAJ

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/feel-the-fire-3

Add to Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/53108393-feel-the-fire




When their career paths bring two high school sweethearts together again, the forest isn’t the only thing ablaze…

Fire behavior specialist Luis Riviera goes where his job takes him. But when he’s assigned to an arson investigation in Central Oregon—the place he left his broken heart twenty years ago—he’s afraid of being burned all over again.

Tucker Ryland had planned to join his first love, Luis, in LA after high school graduation, but life got in the way. Now a fire management expert and a divorced father of teen twins, Tucker’s thrown for a loop when he finds himself working side by side with his Luis, now all grown up and more intriguing than ever.

Though consumed by a grueling fire season and family responsibilities, the two men discover their bond has never truly broken. Tentative kisses turn to passionate nights. But smoking sheets aside, old hurts and new truths stand in the way of this time being the start of forever.

Danger lurks everywhere for Central Oregon’s fire crews, but the biggest risk of all might be losing their hearts. Don’t miss the Hotshots series from Annabeth Albert: Burn Zone, High Heat and Feel the Fire.



“I’m sorry, we’re getting who?” Tucker was usually all about getting through the morning meeting as quickly as possible, and he’d learned through years of working with Fred that too many questions would slow the boss down, lead to tangents and rambles and a lost morning he could have been working. And a lost morning meant being late getting out of here in the afternoon, meant another hasty dinner for him and the twins and grumbles all around. So he made a point of paying attention to the announce­ments and getting information right the first time, but this time he had to have heard Fred wrong.

“New fire behavior specialist out of California—Angeles National Forest is sending him since we’re still under a hiring freeze and now down to a bare-bones op­eration. You know all that. You were complaining about overtime last week.”

“I get that we need some more boots on the ground. But I’ve been working as burn boss the last several fires, and Garrick’s coming along too. Would be nice if they’d send us some more admin support and not someone who’s going to expect a leadership role.”

“Don’t get your feathers ruffled. You’re both an asset to incident command, sure, but we need this guy’s fire behavior experience, especially as it pertains to arson. He’s got the analytical skills we can use and the experi­ence to back it up.”

“Glad they’re finally taking the arson suspicions seriously. And what did you say the name was?” That last part was what he really wanted to know. He could deal with the problem of too many chefs in the kitchen, but he could have sworn Fred had said—

“Luis Rivera. Comes to us with great experience.”

“Sounds good.” He managed a nod, even as his head swam. Fuck. Maybe there were a lot of guys with that name in the LA area. Maybe it was some stodgy near-retiree and not the darkest, deepest pair of eyes Tucker had ever known. The voice husky and earnest. The smile he’d never forget.

“Apparently he knows the area at least a little is what his boss told me on the phone.”

And with that, Tucker’s cornflakes and coffee turned to bricks in his stomach, a heavy weight he hadn’t felt in eons. There might be plenty of guys with that name in California but there had only been one Luis Rivera in central Oregon, the one who’d left with Tucker’s heart all those years ago.

“They’re making me go.” Luis’s voice had wavered, first time Tucker had seen him cry since he’d broken his arm back on a fourth grade dare, and even then, he’d been more mad than sad, all sputtering bravado. This was a level of devastation Tucker had never seen from his friend.

His chest hurt, like he was some hapless cartoon char­acter and his heart really had been cleaved in half by this news. Scooting closer, he wrapped an arm around Luis’s slim shoulders, trying to be brave for both of them.

“You could stay with us to finish school. Share my room and—”

“I’m hardly your parents’ favorite person.” Luis’s weighty sigh hit Tucker like that time a swing had slammed into his gut, because he was right. Tucker’s par­ents weren’t going to come charging in to save the day.

“I’ll wait for you,” he promised.

Only Tucker hadn’t. And if it was that same Luis, well, there wasn’t going to be any avoiding him. As short­handed as they were, it wasn’t like Tucker could claim some of his mountain of unused vacation days. Fred would want him working closely with this person. But maybe he could figure a way around—

“Should be here any minute.”

Or not. Damn it. He needed time to sort himself out, time he apparently wasn’t going to get because here came Fred’s assistant, Christine, knocking at the conference room door, ushering in…

A stranger.

Not the boy Tucker had known. A man. One with a couple of flecks of gray in his dark hair, which was neatly styled, not all choppy and goth, and he had a lean, muscu­lar build, taller than him by a couple of inches, not some scrawny kid. His shoulders were solid, a man who had known his share of heavy labor, and the biceps peeking out of his forest service polo said he kept that work up. The edge of a tattoo played peekaboo with his sleeve. Tucker’s memory had miles of smooth tawny skin, no tat­toos or scars like the one this guy had on his other arm.

But right when Tucker’s shoulders were about to relax, the pit in his stomach starting to ease, the guy frowned, and Tucker would recognize that hard, defiant look any­where. Luis’s head tilted, revealing the familiar curve of his neck to his shoulder that Tucker remembered all too well.

“Tucker?” The Californian accent drew out the vowels in his name, an effect that could make him feel special and singled out when whispered on a starless night. But add a little disdain and a deeper timbre than Tucker recalled, and it made him feel like an unwanted extra in a surfing movie.

“Yeah.” He nodded, head feeling untethered, like a helium balloon about to escape.

“What the—” Luis blinked, then drew his shoulders back, professional distance taking over, smoothing his facial features and softening his next few words. “Sorry. Wasn’t expecting…”

“Y’all know each other?” Fred stood to greet the newcomer with a hearty handshake. “Now, that’s just great. Small world, right?”

“Right,” Tucker echoed weakly, unable to take his eyes off Luis. “Small world.”

Too small. Especially considering that he’d once seen the miles between them as an uncrossable sea, a distance so great it made his brain hurt almost as much as his heart. Once upon a time, he would have given anything to end up in the same room again, weeks of working together looming, and now he’d trade an awful lot to avoid it.

About the Author


Annabeth Albert grew up sneaking romance novels under the bed covers. Now, she devours all subgenres of romance out in the open—no flashlights required! When she’s not adding to her keeper shelf, she’s a multi-published Pacific Northwest romance writer.

Emotionally complex, sexy, and funny stories are her favorites both to read and to write. Annabeth loves finding happy endings for a variety of pairings and is a passionate gay rights supporter. In between searching out dark heroes to redeem, she works a rewarding day job and wrangles two children.

Social Media

Website: http://annabethalbert.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/AnnabethAlbert

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/annabethalbert

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/annabeth_albert/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6477494.Annabeth_Albert

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Annabeth-Albert/e/B00LYFFAZK


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