Saturday, August 8, 2015

review || FAN THE FLAMES { blog tour } by Michele Dunaway


St. Martin's Paperbacks | August 18, 2015 | Contemporary Romance
Man of the Month Club, book 3


Former Navy SEAL turned marine rescue firefighter Brad Silverman is tasked with his toughest mission yet: taking care of his best friend's wife. The only problem is that Scarlett Harrison has always been the one-the one who got away, the one who held his heart, and the one who has always been off limits...

Now widowed Scarlett returns to her childhood home in St. Louis, determined to get her life back on track. She misses her husband but can't fight the attraction she feels for sexy fireman Brad. As she spends more time with him, the connection they have had since high school grows stronger. Are they finally ready to overcome their pasts and lose their hearts to each other?

{ about michele dunaway } .

Michele DunawayEver since she was in first grade, Michele Dunaway wanted to be a writer. Even later in life, she found herself writing, and served on Kirkwood High School's newspaper staff, her college paper, and a local music newspaper (which led to Michele's five-second appearance on MTV's "The Week in Rock").

"I've always wanted to write fiction and I published my first stories using my sister's manual typewriter," she said. "I wrote love stories, and married myself and my sister to the cutest boys in the neighborhood. My sister wrote westerns and killed everyone. We had a great time and I guess you can say that those first stories hooked me into wanting to write more."

Michele concentrated on her writing, even while getting her teaching degree.

"While I earned my undergraduate degree in education, my master's degree is in media communication. In my spare time, apart from studying and teaching, my hobby has always been writing. I still have romance novels in the basement from when I was in high school and college. They're scrawled out in my handwriting, and written long before I knew anything about weaving plot, setting, and character. A teaching colleague Ed Washington read a Highlander fan fiction novel I wrote and told me I should try to seriously get published. So instead of it just being a dream, I set about trying to make it reality," she said.

In 1988, Michele set a goal at her five-year high school reunion to be published by the year 2000. While she authored three professional journal articles, and compiled the Journalism Education Association Middle/Junior High Curriculum Guide, it wasn't until August of 1999 that Michele learned she had sold her first novel to Harlequin American Romance.

"I'm thrilled that I accomplished this. Writing for Harlequin has always been a dream of mine, and words can't express the elation I felt when I heard they were buying my novel. I found out in the school office and the school nurse came running out because I was screaming with joy after I put down the phone," she said.

Since then Michele has sold over 15 novels to Harlequin and her works have been translated into French, Italian, German, Portuguese, and Japanese among others. Describing herself as a woman who does too much but doesn't know how to stop, Michele also teaches high school English, advises the school yearbook, and raises two daughters and five spoiled housecats.

{ review } .

This was a sweet addition to Michele Dunaway's MAN OF THE MONTH series.

We have Brad and Scarlett (her daughter, Colleen, too) as our leads in this current MAN OF THE MONTH title (Brad, a firefighter in the marine unit, is Mr. July). Brad and Scarlett were friends in high school. Brad harbored a crush on Scarlett, kissed her beneath the school staircase, and moments later, their other friend, Todd, asked her out. And that, my friends, was all she wrote.

When Scarlett and Todd married, Brad was the best man. A month later, Todd and Brad were Navy SEALs. Six years later, Brad decided he was through, even though he was getting the promotion to join Todd's unit, the elite Team Six. Brad walked away after his enlistment and moved back home to St. Louis, where he began his firefighting duty on the marine unit -- the water was his home, after all. No more than a year after that, Todd committed the ultimate sacrifice for his team and country, leaving Scarlett a widow and their toddler fatherless.

"I need you to do me a solid..." --Todd

It takes Scarlett time to come home, but Brad eventually talks her into it -- he's restoring an older house and needs someone to live in it, you know, to tell him what's wrong with it and to make sure it's a liveable home.

I enjoyed Brad's character. My heart broke for the man who never dated seriously -- no woman he saw held a flame to Scarlett. On one hand, I was slightly annoyed because seventeen vs late twenties is a difference in maturity and whatnot; who he wanted as a teen may not be the woman he had living in his house. Regardless, he had a difficult time dating women because he wanted Scarlett, even after all these years.

Brad was engulfed in guilt for his best friend's death and wanted to do right by Todd. As such, he keeps something from Scarlett -- something that while I understood her grief for it later, I felt that Brad was doing everything right.

Scarlett and Todd's relationship hadn't necessarily been peachy keen, though. When Todd asked Brad for a promise, he knew that he hadn't been the best husband and father, but he felt that his duty was his country -- so yes, in ways, he put the team above his family. Of course, though, Scarlett is going to focus more on the fact she's raising their daughter alone and her husband is gone, so when it does come time to date again, she's apprehensive... but so is Brad, the one who's never been in a serious, committed relationship.

"Pulling you close and then afterward pushing you away. I was afraid. But I wouldn't have made love to you last night if my head weren't finally on straight. I want to have an us..." --Brad

Most of the build-up for Scarlett and Brad's relationship bordered on heavy-friendship. They'd been friends for so long, so when the love finally happened, they had a solid foundation to build from. There was enough 'love' in the equation, once it happened, for me to believe that their relationship was one that could last, rather than slapping a forever label on a deep friendship.

There's a lot of growing in this book for both Scarlett and Brad, between grief and guilt, emotions that take time to fully heal.

Perhaps it's just me, but I think my biggest issue with this series is simply the cover art. Each cover is lovely, yes, but there's no consistency -- you could pick up one and if not looking for the "Man of the Month" text (or the new emblem on this latest title), you'd have no idea it was part of a series.


Each cover has a completely different look, and that bothers me. But again -- that may just be me.
I haven't read the first book, but I did read the 2nd -- and I can tell you that I enjoy Michele Dunaway's writing style; it's easy reading, even if the subject don't always pull you fully down and in. So cover's aside, this is definitely a series I will continue to read.

{ previous reviews in series } .

BURNING FOR YOU 4.5 { review }

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