Love's Inferno
by Elaine Overton, contemporary (2005)
Arabesque, $5.99, ISBN 1-58314-583-4


Elaine Overton's debut contemporary romance Love's Inferno has plenty of sass and the heroine is pretty cool but it also has its shares of plotting problems. But I must say, it is not everyday that I come across a story where the heroine is the firefighter that rescues the hero. Martina "Marty" Williams is cool that way.

Our Detroit firefighter rescues hero Cavanaugh St John from a fire and goes out on a date with him subsequently. Sparks fly, but Marty has no idea what she is getting into by getting involved with Cavanaugh. You see, she believes that Cavanaugh is an insurance investigator who happens to be in the office in the wrong time. What she is not aware of is that Cavanaugh is also the CEO of St John Trucking that recently came under fire for alleged embezzlement. Someone who worked in the office that burned down at the start of this story was murdered just recently and Cavanaugh soon comes under suspicion of being an arsonist and worse.

Love's Inferno is a very readable story but it is also often very contrived at places. Cavanaugh is a decent hero but his initial unwillingness to reveal his real identity to Marty can be annoying even when he knows that Marty suspects that he's probably dealing drugs (since she has no idea that he is a CEO of a Fortune 500 company and therefore she finds it odd that he can live in such a big and luxurious house). His rather high-handed insistence that she accepts and trusts him even when he's not being the most forthcoming person can be pretty silly. Nonetheless, the author manages to defuse some potential ugly misunderstandings, which is good, by making Marty trusting Cavanaugh pretty blindly, which isn't good. The mystery/suspense is quite well-planned, which is good, but the final few chapters are so melodramatic that I often chuckle at how unintentionally hilarious they can be, which isn't so good.

And it goes on and on, really, how often I will really start to get into the story and enjoy myself when Ms Overton will somehow insert a scene that kicks me out of it. There is always something that is good that is followed by something that isn't so good. This isn't too much of a big problem for me however since on the whole I find Marty an interesting heroine and Cavanaugh a pretty decent hero and, their occasional silliness aside, they have a relationship that seems credible as a whole. There is some chemistry and enough moments that let me know that they like each other outside the bedroom.

It's the plotting, I feel, that can be a problem when Ms Overton often resorts to inability to communicate or a pure lack of communication among her characters to drum up some conflicts in her story. Often these conflicts feel tacked-on in a way that doesn't make sense (such as Cavanaugh's initial unwillingness to let Marty know who he is even as he wants her to trust him).

Nonetheless, I find this book easy to read and the author has what seems like her own brand of flair when it comes to her storytelling because as contrived as the story may be at times, I find myself liking the main as well as secondary characters. It will be most interesting to see where Ms Overton will go from here.

Rating: 79


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