We’re doing a double header today and starting with a look (and review) at a sweet, small-town romance with a sexy firefighter hero.
Last Chance series
by Hope Ramsay
Ross Gardiner has had his fill of difficult relationships. Returning to Last Chance after a rough divorce, the town’s handsome new fire chief just wants safety and stability-a tall order given his dangerous job and the way he has the attention of all the single women in town. All except Sabina Grey, the girl who stole his heart when they were teenagers. Sabina knows a lot about playing it safe. Always the good girl, she’s now responsible for her antiques store and caring for her sister. But having Ross in town brings back the memory of one carefree summer night when she threw caution to the wind-and almost destroyed her family. Now that they are both older and wiser, will the spark still be there, even though they’ve both been burned?
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She wore a pair of faded blue jeans that clung to her hips and butt like they were part of her. Her green tank top looked like something she might have found at a tag sale. The slippery, clingy fabric was covered in Oriental flowers, and it was almost see-through.
Not to mention that it exposed her shoulders, which had freckles on them. As usual, Sabina had pulled her hair back into a ponytail. And as usual, wisps of hair had escaped around her face. He wanted to cross the room, pull that damn rubber band out of her hair, and bury his hands and his nose in all those amazing curls.
Oh yeah, and his hands itched to touch her breasts through that silky fabric. Which is why he balled them into fists and jammed them into his pockets. Then he pretended that his feet were set into concrete.
A man could get hurt by lust like this.
And that didn’t even count the damage his feelings for Sabina might do to Lucy or Henrietta or even the folks in Last Chance who were all invested in him marrying Lucy.
He didn’t want to feel this way.
Lust like this was just crazy. It made a man do stupid things, and he had been there and done that. He much preferred the cool, calm feeling he had for Lucy and her lists.
Sabina stood there staring at him for a moment, her lips soft and parted. The afternoon sun coming through the dusty window, lit up her hair. Her voice sounded squeaky when she started talking, and she stammered, which was not like her at all.
“Uh . . . I . . . Uh. I got a call from Bubba Lockheart. I gather y’all moved the trunk down from the attic?”
“Oh, yeah, you came for the trunk.” He had the twin sensations of being relieved and disappointed all at the same time.
“It’s in the living room. Let me get the hand truck.” He hurried out onto the back porch and snagged the dolly and wheeled it into the living room.
Sabina was waiting for him.
“So, did you search through it? What else is inside?” She tilted her head, and for an instant, she resembled a little kid on Christmas morning, so excited to be unwrapping a present.
“Uh, no. We were kind of busy today.” He kept his words sharp and short. He shoved the dolly under the trunk and tilted it back. Then he wheeled it all the way out to the porch and down a make-shift ramp that had been set up over the front steps. Sabina followed him and opened the tailgate of her van.
“Can you lift it yourself or do you need help?” she asked.
“I can do it.” He wanted her to leave. Fast. But the trunk was awkward and he almost tilted it sideways when he tried to lift it. Before he could stop her, Sabina bent down and grabbed one of the handles and helped.
Together they got it up into the van. But in the process they ended up side by side and their shoulders touched.
He’d never been burned by a fire. He was practically religious about keeping his gear in topnotch form. But that touch scalded him. It would have been normal to jump back from all that heat. After all, he’d been trained to know the danger of uncontrolled fires.
But his training went right out the window, along with his common sense. Instead of running like hell, he turned toward her. She looked up at him, the fire dancing in her eyes. Oh, man, this was so wrong.
And so right.
“Ross,” she whispered, her voice so damn sultry.
His mind told him to stop. But his heart had a completely different idea. His heart had been waiting decades to kiss Sabina Grey. And there she was, right in reach, and her mouth looked so ready to be kissed that he couldn’t help himself.
He leaned down and pressed his mouth to her lips, and even though this wasn’t exactly the hands-on, bodies-pressed-together, hot and heavy kiss he’d once fantasized about, the heat of the moment still swept through him.
He wanted to pull her close. He wanted to explore her mouth a little deeper. He wanted to do a lot more than dance with her.
But Sabina pushed back.
“We can’t do this.” Her look was stunningly sober.
“Right,” he said on a deep exhalation. “Right.” He repeated the word because his mind had sort of checked out for a moment. “I’m sorry.”
She didn’t accept his apology. She just gave him one of those female looks that were so hard to decipher. This one was pretty bad ass.
And then she backed away, ran to the driver’s side of the van, and took off, sending the gravel on the driveway flying.
I have to start with two things – #1 this blurb doesn’t really do this book justice at all and #2 I have no idea why I haven’t been reading this series because this book was fantastic! I’ll skip over the second part because I think it kinda speaks for itself, what with my track record of starting series in the middle, so instead I’ll talk about the first.
It sounds like a newly divorced man, who got a little shook by his first marriage, is back in his hometown and fending off all the women except the one that he wants, who wants him too but is a little scared to take the chance. Which could be a sweet story, right? Yeah, that’s not this story. Now don’t get me wrong it is sweet, oh-so-wonderfully sweet, but so not what it is described to be.
Sabina is having a little trouble living her own life because she’s too busy mothering her little sister (out of guilt for a past event) … a sister who is actually dating Ross. It kinda reminds me of Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin, except I don’t know that Sabina pushes the two together because she doesn’t think Ross would truly be interested in her. There’s actually a whole lot more going on, all stemming out of that guilt I mentioned earlier. That and the fact that she seems to be a bit of a people pleaser and has a terrible time being even a little selfish and saying no to others. Ross has actually been interested in Sabina for years and when he first comes back to town he asks her out a few times but after being told she’s busy – and then being introduced to her sister – he takes the hint that she doesn’t like him the same way. And dates the sister instead.
Things get dicey for them all when the little town’s matchmaking soothsayer visits Sabina and tells her that she needs to get her sister wedded before her own soulmate will make an appearance. Well, since said sister is dating Ross, things take off from there as everyone in town tries to get Ross and Lucy down the aisle as quickly as possible so that Sabina’s love will appear. (Yes, they have a little old lady who gives words of wisdom concerning matters of the heart and the townspeople listen. It totally makes sense when you read the book :) ) Too bad Lucy & Ross aren’t all that sure they want to get married and Ross & Sabina might have more feelings for each other than they will admit to.
I think that this little triangle could totally be something unappealing but Ramsay handles it with style and grace. You can easily see how they all get to where they are and how things just become more and more tangled. You like all of them and thankfully know that it will work out right in the end (it’s a romance, so of course it does) but you just hope that it doesn’t cause too much heartache before they get there. Which I’m pleased to say Ramsay isn’t too heavy-handed there. Instead she uses a fantastic suspense element around a suspicious fire to keep things hopping. It’s a fun touch to add the little bit of danger and intrigue to what could have been an overly dramatic love story. Instead we get a fantastically heart-warming read, highlighting a myriad of complex emotions and interpersonal dynamics.
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