Inside the Flame by Rose O’Brien
Plot overview: Powerful fire mage, Theron, sets out to protect Jen, journalist and seer (she sees dead people, y’all) from the paranormal hordes who would use her powers against her and the rest of the world. Romance and action and smexy times ensue. This is slow-burn, action-packed, PNR.
First of all, this could’ve gone horribly awry for me because I have a super-low tolerance for about 99% of female reporters in romance novels. I’ve found that, for the most part, they are an annoying bunch of women who run head-long into danger to get their story and further their careers without giving any real thought to their own safety (or anyone else’s, for that matter).
And then they have a tendency to get ouchy when anyone tries to help or protect them, sometimes going so far as to stomp their pretty little feet and insist they can take care of themselves. Except they can’t. But Jen wasn’t AT ALL like that. She wasn’t some nincompoop who wandered into the Middle East as a naive reporter to make a name for herself. She was genuinely there to help people and overcome a little of her own emotional baggage along the way.
And not only was she good at her job, but she’d taken the time to learn the terrain, the language, and how to protect herself. She was truly a kick-ass heroine, even though her super powers weren’t as active as Alayna’s (the heroine in Air of Darkness). Long-story-short? Jen was tough, smart, and NEVER TSTL. She was all kinds of awesome.
Second of all, Theron is a great hero, even though he ended up maybe being a little less fabulous than Jen. But hey, I don’t blame him, because honestly, it’s really hard for book boyfriends to hold up when compared to a truly kick-ass woman like Jen. And even if he wasn’t quite as phenomenal as Jen, he was consistently respectful of her and treated her well throughout the story, and he was never threatened by her skills or intelligence. Couldn’t really ask for more than that from a PNR hero, now could I?
The other thing I really enjoyed about this story, and this series so far, is the world-building. It’s intricate and interesting, but not so complex that it’s hard to follow. You could read Inside the Flame without having read Air of Darkness and you wouldn’t be lost. The books stand alone nicely. Although, I don’t know why you wouldn’t read Air of Darkness first. Was I not clear when I said it was fantastic?
I will say that even though it stands alone nicely, the ending doesn’t offer as much...closure as some of you might like. I’m OK with a few things being left up in the air a little, because hey, it’s a series. It’s not like you can tie up EVERY loose end by book 2 in the series. But I still felt the need to point it out for those of you who are intent on reading “and-they-lived-happily-ever-after” type epilogues in your romance novels. You won’t get that here. Now, that said, am I satisfied as a reader that Theron and Jen are going to work everything out and be happy together? Yep. I sure am.
All in all, this was a really fun PNR read that I’d highly recommend to fans of the category. In fact, fans of urban fantasy would probably really enjoy this one, too.
Full disclosure: We received an ARC from the author free of charge.
Does this book contribute to or help crush the romance stigma?
It’s stigma-free. No rehab needed.
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