Title: Flare Up
Author: Shannon Stacey
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: January 29, 2019
Publisher: Carina Press
Series: Boston Fire #6
Format: Print / Digital eBook
Print ISBN: 9781335924599
Digital ISBN: B07GBC1TP2
Nursing a broken heart while everybody around him seems to be drowning in happiness has Grant Cutter wondering whether staying with Engine 59—or even Boston Fire—is in his future. It’s tempting as hell to pack up what fits in his Jeep and hit the road. But then a 911 call brings the woman who shattered his heart back into his life, and he knows he won’t ever be able to fully leave her in his rearview mirror.
For a few months, Wren Everett had thought the nightmare of her past was behind her and she might live happily ever after with Grant. Until she got the phone call letting her know the time her ex had spent in jail for assault hadn’t cooled his temper or determination that she belonged with him. Cutting ties with Grant was the hardest thing she’d ever had to do, but it was also the only way to keep him safe.
Now that Grant is back, he’s not letting Wren push him away again. And even with the trust issues between them, Wren dares to hope she and Grant might have a future together after all…if they’re willing to fight for it.
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The apartment was small—one room and probably barely legal—so it only took a few seconds to follow the coughing to the person on the floor near the window. While Aidan did a quick check of the bathroom and under the bed to make sure there was nobody else, Grant crouched down next to the person he was pretty sure was a woman, despite having a throw blanket over her head.
“Fire department,” he said. “Let’s get you out of here.”
Her cough was so weak and ineffectual, he didn’t bother asking if she could get up and walk. Instead he rolled her, intending to lift her and carry her out.
Then the throw blanket slipped away from a sleep-tangled mess of blonde curls, revealing dark blue eyes he saw in his dreams, and Grant’s world stopped.
He hadn’t seen her in five months, since she’d told him on the phone she didn’t want to see him anymore and then ghosted. No explanation. No compromise. Nothing but five months of a broken heart that hadn’t even begun to heal yet.
What the hell was she doing in this place?
Grant. Her mouth formed his name, though no sound got through her constricted throat. The grayish cast of her skin and lips terrified him, and he started to hoist her up.
Aidan was at his side. “I’ll carry her out.”
“I’ve got her.” Despite the shock and pain from seeing her again, Grant wanted to hold her. He wanted to cradle her in his arms and feel that sense of contentment holding her had always brought him in the past.
There was no time for that. After draping her over his shoulder, he stood and headed for the door. It wouldn’t be a comfortable ride for her, but the only thing that mattered right now was getting her out of the building and to an ambulance, where they could give her oxygen. Her body had gone totally limp by the time he reached the stairs, but he refused to consider the possibility she’d need medical care beyond that.
They’d gotten there in time, and that’s all there was to it.
He heard voices in his radio and was aware Aidan stayed right behind him, but Grant didn’t stop moving until he hit the clear, frigid air.
He paused to get his bearings and then headed for the ambulances on standby. Some of those voices in his radio must have warned them he was coming, because Cait opened the back of her truck and waved at him.
Cait Tasker was not only an EMT, but she was engaged to Gavin Boudreau, who was Grant’s best friend and with the Ladder 37 crew. E-59 and L-37 were parked side-by-side in the firehouse and always rolled out together, so Gavin was on scene, too. And Cait knew Wren. The four of them had spent a lot of time together before Wren walked away from him and didn’t look back.
By the time he reached the ambulance doors, he could feel her stirring. Not a lot, but she had to be breathing in order to regain consciousness and that was enough for now.
Because it was so damn cold and she was small, they didn’t bother with the stretcher. He handed Wren up to Cait’s partner, Tony, who turned away with her.
“Oh my God, Grant.” Cait looked at him, her expression mirroring his thoughts. “What the hell was Wren doing living here?”
“I don’t know. She’ll be okay, right?”
“We’ll take care of her. Are you okay?”
He didn’t answer. As he watched Tony fit a mask over Wren’s face, her eyes met his and, no, he wasn’t okay.
Questions tumbled through his mind. Why was Wren living in this place? Why had she disappeared from his life so abruptly? How could she still be in the city and not miss him enough to at least send a text message?
Had she known he’d been days away from buying her a ring and asking her to spend the rest of her life with him?
Finally, Grant’s story!
If you’ve read the book before this in the series ( Under Control ) you were undoubtedly as anxious as I was to figure out what was going on with Wren and Grant. (If you haven’t, no worries–this could work as a standalone, and honestly, you’ll probably be more sympathetic to Wren from the start if you’re coming in fresh, not having seen Grant in prior books) And yeah, characters running away from a problem isn’t my number one favorite response, but Ms. Stacey does a good job of helping us to see things from Wren’s POV and understand why she felt that it was her only choice at the time. We’ll still struggle with it–as does Grant and everyone else who cares about him–but seeing things from Wren’s perspective definitely helps.
I liked that Grant and Wren didn’t rush back into things here and took it slow even when their hormones weren’t 100% on board with that plan. They really are good together, and it was fun to see them work to rebuild their relationship again, this time with less secrecy and more honest conversation. I also liked that his friends and family were honest about their reservations, yet still gave Wren a chance–it felt very realistic.
The suspense portion of the book (Wren’s reason for leaving in the first place) was always there in the background, and needing to know what was going to happen there kept me turning the pages as much as wanting to see Wren and Grant get to their HEA. Though the way that that part was resolved felt a teensy bit anticlimactic, it also felt a lot more realistic than another method would have.
Once again one of the best parts of this book was seeing the relationships between the guys and girls of E59 and L37 and their significant others. The epilogue makes it feel as if this might be the last in the series and is a bittersweet wrapping up for all of the characters. I’m a bit bummed, but console myself with the thought that surely Ms. Stacey will be working on a new series soon–that, and knowing I still have books 1-3 of this series in my TBR to keep me company until her next book comes out 😉
Rating: 4 stars / B+
I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.
About Shannon Stacey:
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Shannon Stacey lives with her husband and two sons in New England, where her two favorite activities are writing stories of happily ever after and off-roading with her friends and family. You can contact Shannon through her website, www.shannonstacey.com, as well as sign up for her newsletter.a Rafflecopter giveaway