Monday, December 7, 2015

Review: Wild Heat (Northern Fire #1)

Wild Heat (Northern Fire #1)

by Lucy Monroe 

Sometimes old flames are the hottest of all . . .

In the quaint little town of Cailkirn, Alaska, it's impossible to keep a secret, especially one as juicy as the unexpected return of Kitty Grant. Tack MacKinnon remembers her wild red curls and even wilder spirit—and still feels the sting from when she shattered his heart in college. But there's a pain in Kitty's gorgeous eyes that guts him to the core, and Tack is determined to do whatever it takes to see the woman he still loves smile again—even if it means taking on her demons as his own.
After fleeing an abusive ex-husband, Kitty decides that the best way to heal her broken heart is to come back home. But she gets a whole new shock when she sees how undeniably sexy Tack has become. More handsome, more muscular, more charming—more everything—he's impossible to resist. Before she knows it, they're reigniting sparks that could set the whole state of Alaska on fire. Yet trust doesn't come easy to Kitty anymore, and as things heat up between her and Tack, she can't help but wonder if one of them is going to get burned . . .
Themes: contemporary
Rating: 3.5 stars
Heat Rating: 
 An all new series by one of my favorite authors has arrived.  I love the premise of this series mainly because it is set in one of my all-time favorite places to read about and one that I am determined to visit someday, Alaska.  The series begins with a story of rekindled love between two former best friends.  The almost decade they have been apart has changed them both in some pretty drastic ways, but at the heart they are still made for one another if they can find a way to get past their hurts and fears.  I am a huge fan of Lucy Monroe and went into the story with really high expectations, which might have been the problem.  While I really enjoyed the story, there was little of the greatness I have always experienced with her writing.  I liked the characters well enough, but there just seemed to be an emotional disconnect for me and a little bit too much choppiness to the story to make their tale truly believable.  I am looking forward to the next in the story and hope to have a return to the expected level of loving it, but for long time Lucy fans, I warn you to not expect too much or you might end up disappointed.  That being said the story was complicated in a lot of emotionally dramatic ways so maybe the problem was that everything was just too intense. 
Caitlin “Kitty” Grant is returning to her small home town to lick her wounds and find herself again after an abusive relationship and battle with illness almost cost her life.  She knows there are lots of fences to mend, but seeing Tack MacKinnon her childhood best friend and the one person she most betrayed with bad choices in the past, rekindles a desire that she thought surely dead for good.  Tack never imagined Kitty would be returning to their small town, and never imagined she would be as wounded as she is.  When she kicked him to the curb 8 years earlier he put as much space between them as possible in hopes of protecting his heart from her, but seeing her again, battered but not broken, is heartbreaking and terrifyingly wonderful at the same time. When they can no longer resist the chemistry between them, falling into a sensual and wonderful affair, neither of them are really able to protect their hearts anymore.  But can they overcome the past that once tore them apart and find a way to survive the wild heat of their hearts?
What to say about Kitty… Kitty was an idiot. Ok maybe that’s too harsh, being that she was a young woman with serious issues, but pushing her best friend away for some controlling man left her with no one to fall back on when the world crashed.  She made some really bad decisions, but thankfully knew when to finally get the hell out of the relationship that almost killed her.  When she comes home she is determined to help herself and find a way back to normal, but her mistake again is in not sharing her fears and issues with those she loves.  Dealing with Tack and finding herself craving him at every turn gives her a sense that she is finally finding herself again as a woman, but it quickly becomes more than her fragile heart can handle.  As she returns to her old self, her spunky nature and determination bring her to face the fact that being Tack’s dirty little secret is just not enough for her.  I loved seeing her exploring her sensuality and standing up for what she wants, growth leading her to some pretty startling discoveries.  I wish the story had been a little longer, giving Lucy more time to share the baby steps of change, but the jump into love is sometimes unexplainably fast I guess. In the end I liked her more for embracing her vulnerabilities and fears enough to demand what she wants and deserves from her man.
Tack was an ass. I get that he had his heartbroken as a young man when the girl he loved pushed him away for another man, but running away with his tail between his legs and never bothering to check back on the girl he claimed to love was not cool.  Learning about the hardships of her life, Tack is understandably upset that Kitty was so abused, but it takes him way too long to come to terms with the simple fact that he could have helped, even as a friend, if he hadn’t been throwing a tantrum and burying his love for almost a decade.  It is obvious from both actions and words that Tack still cares about her, but he denies it at every turn, even using sex as an excuse for protecting Kitty from her own vulnerabilities.  But he isn’t able to take that final needed step of forgiveness until it is almost too late.  Sexy alpha males are a dime a dozen, but it is obvious to me that Tack is a really loving guy once he lets go of his hang-ups.  He does everything in his power to look out for those he cares about, even standing up to his own mother in an effort to comfort Kitty, but he withholds the most important part of him, his heart, out of fear, almost causing him to lose the girl he loves again to his own stubbornness.  But in the end he finds a way to love again and give her his all, maybe a little too quickly as things move from casual to committed in a heartbeat, which was odd to me.
Wild Heat is one of those stories where I love parts of it and the promise of the great story it could have been, but something just doesn’t click right as I read it.  Tack and Kitty were obviously made for one another, but the way they go about changing their relationship—which is already complicated by their past—was just too abrupt and seemed heartless to me.  I enjoyed seeing them embrace a physical relationship and don’t get me wrong those portions of the book were hot, but the emotion was missing for me a lot.   Tack seems heartless a good bit of the time, very closed off and unwilling to share himself, but overall seems to be a good guy.  He cares for those around him and is a good man in general, but when faced with any emotional turmoil he seems to shut down and use physical attraction and chemistry to put a distance between himself and Kitty.  Kitty too has a lot of issues which she needs to work through and I don’t think she worked through them enough in my opinion, instead compensating for them or pretending the issues weren’t there.  She does finally get some perspective and help, allowing the healing to continue which leads her emotions to be invested in her relationship with Tack, but it all happened too abruptly for me.  In the end, I think had the story been a little bit longer, with more emotional growth before the HEA it would have struck a deeper more emotional connection for me.  I am looking forward to the next story, hoping the connection and fire returns for me, and wondering if we will see more of Kitty and Tack.   Lucy remains one of my favorite authors, but this book was not one of my favorites of hers.

*eARC provided by publisher (via netgalley) for the purpose of an honest and unbiased review.  No compensation was provided.

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