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Saturday, August 25, 2012

ARC Review: Blaze by Joan Swan

Format: Bound Copy
Release Date:
September 25, 2012
Purchase Links:
Amazon l Kindle l Barnes and Noble l Nook

With a man like him, every mission becomes personal. . .

Ever since FBI agent Keira O'Shay started tracking a young boy named Mateo, she's felt a connection even her empathic abilities can't explain. She needs to save Mateo from the cult leader holding him hostage. Nothing can interfere with that--not even the reappearance of Luke Ransom, the hot-as-hell fire captain she's regretted walking out on for three long years.

Losing Keira left Luke vulnerable--in every way. When they were together, the powers each possesses were mysteriously enhanced. But it's the sexy, surprising woman beneath the tough exterior that Luke's really missed. Even if she betrayed him utterly. And even if agreeing to help her uncover a government conspiracy means watching his life and his heart go up in flames again. . .

The highly anticipated (at least for me) second book in new author Joan Swan's Phoenix Rising series, Blaze is an action packed, passion filled adventure sure to please the audience that was first captivated by its predecessor, Fever

Exes Luke and Keira are definitely two of a kind and life has taken them in two different directions but they've never gotten over each other or the effect they had on the other's powers. Within moments of being re-united, their powers ignite once again and even provide a few surprises along the way. While one would think these "surprises" would help Luke and Keira clear the air between them, it actually makes things worse, making them face what they had, what went wrong and dragging up old hurts and accusations. 

Luke is an amazing character in the sense that he's completely vulnerable to Keira and the emotions she stirs in him. After awhile he doesn't even try to fight or deny it, giving him a lovelorn aura that reminded me of the heroes in a Jane Austen novel. I spent half the time alternating with sympathizing with Keira and her fears to wanting to strangle her because she had an amazing man that kept offering his heart and support to her and she kept pushing him away.

And let's talk about kids in romance novels. They don't always work for me. Sometimes I get the feeling that an author will insert a kid into the story line hoping to score points with an audience that they assume has kids and can identify with them. Not cool, at all, don't assume that having a kid in a story is going to make it better, sometimes they make it worse and the quality of the story goes down the drain. Same goes for an adult character, if they don't have a use, why put them in the story?

Thankfully it wasn't the case in Blaze. Sure Mateo is cute but he isn't dead weight in the story, he has a purpose, he is actually the reason things get dangerous for Luke and Keira but he also inadvertently forces Keira to face her fears and conquer them. So brownie points to Joan Swan for not using a kid just to score points with an audience.

Blaze is not without humor though, at times Luke and Keira's enhanced gifts spark some steamy, and down right sarcastic arguments, each one trying to get the upper hand on the other. Then there's Mitch Foster, the savvy, sophisticated, smart mouthed playboy lawyer from Fever and Alyssa Foster's brother. Almost every word out of his mouth is an insult when it comes to Luke and he has some of the best scenes in this book. Definitely a scene stealer and one I can't wait to read more about.

There's something distinctive about author Joan Swan's Phoenix Rising series, it's not just the sexy characters (both male and female), fast paced plots or steamy love scenes. It's the real emotion behind the scenes she writes. It's not just love, lust and passion, there is a range of emotions in her books that have the ability to fully engage the reader. While not every one has felt an all consuming love or passion for another person, who hasn't felt jealousy, fear, rejection or betrayal? 

As more questions than answers are revealed, Luke and Keira find themselves not only re-evaluating their previous relationship but the incident that killed one member of their old firefighting team and left the rest of them broken, lost and with abilities that others want bad enough to kill. 

With Blaze, one mystery is solved only for half a dozen more to pop up in its place, allowing for more books in the series (Yay!). Keeping the mystery, suspense and passion at top notch, Joan Swan's Blaze is just a good if not better than its predecessor Fever and as much as it pained me to finish Luke and Keira's story, I am super excited for the next book in the series. These characters are quickly becoming as important to me as I'm sure they are for Joan. 

Bottom line, Blaze will leave you wishing you had a love like Luke and Keira and a pseudo family as crazy as Mitch, Teague, Allysa and the rest of the meddling, worrisome and loyal gang.


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