Up In Flames
by Rosanna Leo, contemporary (2012)
Liquid Silver Books, $5.95, ISBN 978-1-59578-940-2
Juliet Baker, our heroine, doesn't like the firemen of her hometown, Riverbend. You see, she was the last to know when it came to her ex-boyfriend Kevin being a cheating dog, and she blames his firemen colleagues for rallying around that man when the crap hits the fan. That was six months ago. She's now back in town to manage her B&B breakfast, and it just has to happen that her first boarder is - you guess it, a fireman. Capt Shane Gaskill boasts the hardened abs and the height, but is he a bastard? Stay tuned.
I'll go straight to the point about my main issue with Rosanna Leo's Up In Flames: the conversations feel too scripted to be believable.
“Good Lord, give me strength. Please keep the local firefighters away from me. Keep me out of the path of hardened abs and tall men in uniform, for they are bastards, one and all. Amen.”
Who speaks like this in real life?
Now, perhaps Ms Leo is aiming to turn the story into a romantic sitcom. I have no problems with that, but Ms Leo's brand of humor doesn't work for me. The timing is a bit off where I am concerned, and some of the attempts at humor don't come together well. In the example I've mentioned above, for example, the mentions of hardened abs and tall men in uniform doesn't make that excerpt funny. Just staged and awkward, like that deliberately precocious little girl who goes around asking what a condom is. Comedy is hard - mistime a single punchline and the whole room just stare at you in awkward silence. And as for me, I'm staring in awkward silence throughout the entire story.
This is a pity because the romance itself is pretty decent. The characters and the plot aren't exactly new, but the romance is fine. Juliet could have been irritating, given the nature of her baggage, but she turns out to be a pretty likable, if occasionally silly, heroine. Shane can be on the too good to be true side, but he has his moments. Like I said, the story is pretty decent. It's just that every time a character opens his or her mouth, the immersion effect is ruined. I can never get into the story because it just won't stop reminding me that the author is trying too be funny, and it just isn't working for me.
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