Wednesday, February 11, 2015

review || FIRE ME UP { blog tour }


Fire Me Up by Kimberly Kincaid
Publisher: Zebra/Kensington (2/3/2015)
Series: Pine Mountain, book 4
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Source: Tasty Book Tours/Net Galley
Purchase links || Amazon | Barnes | iTunes | Kobo || add to goodreads
Rating: ★★★★1/2


Teagan O’Malley can handle a crisis. She’s a paramedic, it’s her job. But she never expected to land in the kitchen of her father’s pub, with no notice, no cash, and no room for error. The kitchen is not her favorite place. Lucky for her, she just scraped a bad-boy chef off the pavement after a motorcycle accident—and something about him says he can turn up the heat in more ways than one.

Adrian Holt has had a rough few years, and he’s not eager to get tangled up in anything more complicated than a good risotto. But with a broken arm and a head full of bad memories, he needs a challenge to keep him sane. Teagan’s dare-me attitude and smoldering mess of a bar are just what the doctor ordered. And the two of them together might cook up some even better medicine…

about Kimberly || Kimberly Kincaid writes contemporary romance that splits the difference between sexy and sweet. When she's not sitting cross-legged in an ancient desk chair known as "The Pleather Bomber", she can be found practicing obscene amounts of yoga, whipping up anything from enchiladas to ├ęclairs in her kitchen, or curled up with her nose in a book.

Kimberly is a 2011 RWA Golden Heart® finalist who lives (and writes!) by the mantra that food is love. Her digital Line series is all about the hot cops and sexy chefs of Brentsville, New York. She is also the author of the Pine Mountain series, which follows small town singles as they find big-time love. Kimberly resides in Virginia with her wildly patient husband and their three daughters.
connect with Kimberly || Website | Facebook Twitter | Goodreads

{ excerpt } .
But then her eyes blinked open and she lowered the glass.

“I’m not sure about the whole deep experience thing, but the wine is nice,” she admitted, taking another sip.

“Told you.” Adrian scooped the potatoes from the stockpot with a slotted spoon, letting the heat from the steam wash over his face. He’d been fighting the desire to kiss Teagan again ever since he’d botched things that stupid morning he’d first taught her to cook, only this time, he wanted to dive into her and never come up for air.

This time, if he kissed her, he wasn’t going to stop.

Without fanfare, he scooped one of the potatoes into a tea towel on the counter. After a second’s worth of awkward fumbling, he got a decent grip on it with his left fingers, although his incapacitated thumb itched to get in on the action. Keeping the towel-wrapped potato steady as best he could by cradling it between his fingers and chest, he started to peel it with quick precision. Long ribbons of light brown skin, thin enough to see through, snaked over the tea towel as he worked, and the task helped him focus.

“How come you didn’t peel those before you boiled them? I mean, isn’t it easier that way, so you don’t burn your fingers?” Teagan leaned forward on her elbows, watching him start on the second potato with an inquisitive stare. Damn, she didn’t miss anything.

“It changes the starch content if you boil them that way. Plus, when they’re hot, the peels slide off easier. Pretty helpful when you’ve only got one and a half hands.”

“Oh. That was probably a stupid question, huh?” Teagan didn’t look sheepish very often, or, okay, ever, but hell, if it didn’t light him up like the Fourth of July right now.

 “No such thing as a stupid question.”

Teagan eyed him over the rim of her wineglass and smirked. “Does this make me look fat?”

Adrian finished peeling the last potato, shooting her a disapproving look even though he knew it wouldn’t stick. “Okay. Almost no such thing as a stupid question.”

He scooped just enough flour into a soft mound on the counter, giving it a gentle roll with the backs of his knuckles to create a well. Going through the familiar motions, even without the full use of his left hand, sent another wave of calm through his chest.

“You don’t measure anything,” Teagan noted, more statement than question, and Adrian nodded in agreement.

“After a while, you start to recognize when things are right. A lot of it is by feel and taste. But I’ve made this enough to know it by heart.”

Holding one of the still-steaming potatoes in the thinly textured weave of the tea towel, Adrian hooked his left fingers beneath the handle of a bell grater. Slowly, he worked the potato over the holes, watching as the cream-colored flesh left a trail of steam on the stainless steel. He moved in brisk, even strokes, watching the curls of yellow-white potato drop into the well like confetti. “So even though we don’t have a whole lot of ingredients here, we still have to make sure that they play nicely together.”

“Playing nicely doesn’t seem to suit you.”

“And yet that doesn’t bother you,” Adrian flipped back, working the second potato into fine shreds.

One red-gold brow lifted. “I don’t play nicely either.”

Right. Because just what he needed was another reason to want her.

“Well, you’d better learn quick, because you’re up.”

Teagan’s shoulders lifted in a slim line of surprise, and she pulled back from the counter to stare at him. “You can’t be serious.”

“When it comes to food, I’m always serious.” Adrian tipped his head at the counter, dividing his expression between trust me and I dare you. Damn, she was full to the brim with tension and tired, and all he wanted was to get her to relax. “Come on. I can’t do this part alone, and I’ll walk you through it. I’m a chef. It’s not like I’m going to steer you wrong.”

For a second, she didn’t move, and hell, maybe pushing her had been a bad plan. But then she gave a barely perceptible nod and slid from her bar stool to round the corner into the kitchen.

“Fine. Let’s do this before I change my mind.”

Adrian turned to get an egg and some butter out of the refrigerator, trapping his satisfied smile between his teeth. “The trick here is to get the ingredients incorporated just right, and the best way to do that is to go by feel.”

Returning to the counter, he closed his fingers around the smooth contours of the egg, giving it a one-handed tap and- break into the flour well.

Teagan scoffed. “Show-off.”

But Adrian kept steady with the food, nice and easy so she would, too. “It’s important to go slow—you don’t want to maul it, or else the dough turns out too tough.” He reached forward for a pinch of salt from the covered bowl on the counter, sprinkling it over the well before stepping back to gesture her into the space.

Her lips parted. “You want me to use my hands?”

“Yup. It’s just like the wine, only instead of breathing it in, you’re letting it talk to you by feeling it.”

“I hope you have the pizza guy on speed dial, because I’m totally going to screw this up,” she muttered, but she sank her fingers into the mixture anyway. Her brow tugged down in fierce concentration, but Adrian countered it by stepping in behind her.

“You’re not going to screw this up.” Caging her body gently with his own, he put his right hand over hers to guide her through the motions. He worked his hand—and hers—over the mixture, first one pass, then another. “Take a breath. Relax, and let the food do its thing.”

“Like that?” Teagan asked, her back melting into his chest with each move of their hands. She tipped her chin toward her shoulder to look up at him in question, and he sucked in a breath full of rosemary and total, undiluted want.

“Yeah,” he said. “Like that.”

Slowly, the ingredients began to find their way together, and a ball of dough the color of spring sunshine began to take shape between Teagan’s palms, smooth and pliable. Her shoulders rolled, low and easy against his body, her breath coming in soft pulls as she looked down at their entwined hands. “God, that’s amazing.”

Adrian threw every last shred of his focus into the food. “Isn’t it? It’s only a few ingredients, yet when you bring them together without forcing them, they just find their way to where they belong.”

“So now what?”

“Now all we have to do is roll it out and cut it,” he said, stepping back from her even though his body screamed in protest. He skimmed a thin layer of flour over the countertop, reminding himself that this was about taking care of her. Without quite meeting her gaze—God, he was such a selfish bastard—Adrian gestured for her to place the dough on the flour-coated counter and pressed a rolling pin into her hands.

“Nice and even, Red. It’s all about feel.” He fixed his eyes on the dough as she rolled it out, her movements tentative yet efficient. “Good. Use your fingers to check for ripples in the surface. Missing them with your eyes is easy, but you’ll catch them if you go by touch.”

“Oh.” The word rode out on a sigh as she skimmed the pale yellow disc of dough with one hand, then the other. “It really is all about feel.”

“See? You’re a natural.”

Adrian palmed a dough cutter, the handle smooth in his palm, and he edged in next to her to begin cutting the dough with one-handed movements. Teagan watched as if in a trance, and he watched her face the same way, drinking her in as she stared.

“If you know how to listen, the food tells you everything.” He ran the gleaming tines of a fork across each little bead of dough, imprinting the supple surface with the trademark triple slash of gnocchi.

“The way you do that is really incredible.” Teagan swung her gaze upward to meet his, her face as open and pure as sunrise, and in that moment, Adrian knew the difference between just wanting someone and being hungry for someone.

He was fucking starving for her.

{ review } .
What I like about many series is the fact that you don't need to read other books to know what's going on. Do I like the series' that follow one couple? Abso-freaking-lutely. But the series that follow towns and their people, that follow family members or best friends... I like those just as well.

I knew that FIRE ME UP was part of a series, but I had no idea that it was book four. FOUR! I thought maybe 2 -- obviously the previous book would have been that of Adrian's best friend/chef buddy, Carly. But low and behold, Carly's book was actually book 2, and there's another between hers and Adrian's.

Due to the nature of the series, do you need to read the previous books? Nope. Not even a bit.

...but it would be fun to see the other couples.

I liked Adrian and Teagan, and I liked them together, as well. Parts of the story felt too 'plain' to me though, as if the characters were just going through the motions. I did enjoy the suspenseful aspect of the story, though, which was the driving factor of the '1/2' after the 4 stars.

I felt that, although not really touched upon, there was growth in these characters. Adrian is a punky platinum-hair wearing, eyebrow pierced guy who cooks for a living -- and cooks well. On top of that, he's a Harley rider. These things didn't jive together in my mind, but they worked in Kimberly's mind, so I let it pass. Anyways, he goes from this half-cocked, punky adult, to this guy who gives two bee's behinds about someone else -- and I rather enjoyed watching that transition. Adrian learns to live by slowing down.

Teagan, too, grows simply by slowing down. Neither of these two characters slow down by choice -- Adrian's a bit broken and Teagan's dad is a bit of a mess -- but by slowing down, they opened their mind to other possibilities.

The major unbelievable part to me was that Teagan didn't question Adrian's parole. Even when speaking of it with someone else, she says how any joe-shmoe you meet could have a parole officer. And maybe it's a result of small town living, but she puts a bit too much trust and faith into this man she doesn't know, who has a parole officer, and has a history that she wasn't privvy to for a little while.

...but that's me being a bit nitpicky and looking deep into the book.

Had I just read the book for pleasure? I likely wouldn't have noticed the easy-acceptance, no questions asked about it, parole part. Teagan and Adrian's lives are thrown together by 'accident', and their lives progress and intertwine nicely. Adrian, for his tough exterior, is a rather sweet guy.

He calls Teagan 'Red' for reasons other than her hair (did he ever confess said reason to her? Readers knew, but did Teagan?), but when he had something he needed to say, something that was serious, he'd call her by her name -- and Teagan recognized it for what it was.

Additionally, one of my favorite sweet factors of a certain Mr. Adrian was how he ended up having to keep a secret from Teagan, and it kills him to do so -- he nearly bursts at the seams.

So like I said -- as a reviewer who tries to be a bit critical? There was room for improvement...

But as a reader who likes to get so lost in a story and never come out? It was a damn good read.

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