Smoke and Ashes by Danica Winters

Smoke and Ashes by Danica Winters

With a mysterious arsonist on the loose in Missoula, fire inspector Kevin Jensen saves more than Heather Sampson’s house. The sexy single father rescues her from an abusive marriage—and discovers his own past failures don’t have to rule his life. Especially when sparks between him and Heather ignite irresistible desire.

But who’s the arsonist? Why target Heather? What’s his shocking motive? When Heather faces off with him in a brutal attack, she needs her “white knight” as much as he needs her. Both have looked into their souls and risked their broken hearts for each other. Now Kevin will have to risk his life and his heart.

Smoke and Ashes by Danica Winters

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Who is this Doctor Oz lookalike cover model? I don’t find him attractive, and he is on the cover of what seems like half of Harlequin’s books these days!

I thought this one sounded interesting, but I must admit there was some serious stereotyping and cliché going on in this book, and I struggled as it went on.

The books in this Harlequin line are shorter than some others, which means pulling together a believable romance AND suspense storyline is a challenge. The author did the smart thing by having her characters already know each other quite well, but by starting with our heroine married to another man she had to break them up, fast. And this resulted in a moustache-twirlingly mean husband with some clunky dialogue.

Our heroine is an idiot. Yes, she is an abused wife, but she is also an idiot. She signed a prenup while celebrating with a glass of wine, and never bothered to read it. Now she has nothing (and does not work and has no skills to earn a living); if she’d read that prenup she’d have known before her wedding that her husband was a maniac.

Then we reach the mean best friend who is – of course – pretty, blonde (to our wholesome brunette heroine), wears tight clothes, giggles ALL THE TIME, and sleeps around. And she’s called Brittany for good measure.

This is misogynistic stereotyping.

Our hero is prematurely grey – which seems to be a trend in romance at the moment, for men and for women. Is this because so many authors are older than their characters? It’s odd.

Packed in there someone is the suspense storyline, with another moustache-twirler for a villain. Admittedly, from what I understand the research into the actual fire and arson section of the book was solid, so that bit was good. However, the story also had to pack in the hero’s career in crisis and his troubles with his son – and there just wasn’t time for all that.

I think the introduction of the friend was the killer for me. Write in a fair-haired female character like Brittany, stereotype so nastily, and I’m never going to like your book.

 

Review copy provided by NetGalley.

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