I randomly started binge-watching NBC’s Chicago Fire and it made me want to check out some firefighter romance. I still haven’t finished the show so no spoilers!
Riding the Storm by Brenda Jackson (The Westmorelands #5)
While on business in New Orleans the last person Fire Captain Storm Westmoreland expects to see is Jayla Cole–the daughter of his deceased mentor. She’d always been too young for him but now she’s all grown up and they spend a few days in the Big Easy igniting a fiery passion. The only problem? Jayla isn’t looking for a new relationship to complicate her plan to start a family through IVF.
Being a Harlequin category, this book zooms in on the relationship and there isn’t a lot of firefighting stuff on page. Storm has the alpha, take-charge attitude you’d expect in a fire captain. Because this is Harlequin Desire–and in general the heroes have to have to be extremely financially secure–the book makes a point to explain that Storm is high ranking and wealthy. I’m not sure is typical of firefighters but this is probably the only way a firefighter could get into this category.
There is some of the typical anti-IVF stuff that pops up in category romance and savvy readers can probably guess how that storyline ends. While I wouldn’t classify this as a firefighting book, I do think it’s a great place to start with category romance.
The Island Affair by Priscilla Oliveras (Keys to Love #1)
Social media influencer Sara Vance has just been dumped and needs a new man ASAP so her family can see she’s getting her life together during their Florida Key’s vacation. Local firefighter paramedic Luis Navarro comes in for the save and agrees to pose as her fake fiance.
Because Luis is on leave during the book there is not a lot of firefighting on page in this one either but we hear a lot about his training, duties and past calls. It’s obvious Oliveras put a lot of research into the technical work of firefighting. Firefighting is in Luis’s blood–his father was one and all of Luis’ siblings are firefighters in different Keys. Despite being closed-door, Oliveras weaves a sensual romance that simmers as the pair spend more time together. This book is described as a fun romance in some of the marketing copy but be warned there are a lot of emotional beats involving death,breast cancer ( no one dies from it), eating disorders and mental illness.
I have two nitpicks about this book: 1.) Sara is fluent in Spanish and Latinx culture because she was raised by her (now deceased) Mexican nanny. I really hate the woman of color domestic stand-in mother trope. It’s just a little too close to a Mammy for me. And 2.) I swear 40% of his book is the text translating Spanish sentences. It was so clunky, they really should have just let people figure out the Spanish from context.
Last thing, Carmen Vine did the thing with the audiobook, her “guy voice” is incredible.
Fully Ignited by Shannon Stacey (Boston Fire #3)
This book is beat for beat very similar to the Chicago Fire show. It centers around a fire department in a major city, scenes of calls are interspersed in the chapters and they even have a firefighter hangout bar like Molly’s in Chicago Fire.
Our hero is 27-year-old Scott Kincaid, a sixth-generation firefighter who just falls head over heels for their house’s new temporary lieutenant– 34-year-old Jamie Rutherford. She’s the first female firefighter in the house and has to deal with some of the baggage that comes with that but I loved the way Stacey handled it. We got to see Jamie as a strong leader but also some of the realities of sexism in the community. The show Chicago Fire has been not so great at figuring out how to write women firefighter or romances between them and Stacey nails it. She builds such fully realized characters, that feel like the live and breathe off the page.I can’t wait to go back and read the others–in fact I think it’s better to read these in order because they refer to a lot of things from previous books and I kind of fast-forwarded through that.
I also did this on audio, I hate to say this but Tatiana Sokolov’s narration has a little too much vocal fry for me. I also wish she’d gone with a less is more approach with the Boston accents.
Overall, I enjoyed all the books I read and I’m already gearing up to do a firefighter romance part II with more female firefighters! If you have some recs let me know in the comments
*Honorable Mention – The Friend Zone by Abby Jimenez also features a firefighter hero and there are scenes of the crew at calls. – Jess