I just loved Dylan Newton’s novel How Sweet It Is when I read it last year (review here). I was really excited to revisit the characters and town in All Fired Up and Newton did not let me down!
Here’s the book’s description:
As a successful book publicist, Imani Lewis works night and day to promote her authors. It’s her dream job, but she’s become a total workaholic. So when her grandmother invites her to stay for the summer as she recovers from surgery, Imani happily agrees. But being back in the same small town as her one-night stand may not be quite the relaxing break she envisioned…The reader has to get over some miscommunication in this romance because Zander and Imani refuse to have a full conversation about how they felt about their one-night stand and what that means for a relationship going forward. Sometimes that drives me absolutely up the wall, but I think I was in a good space when I read this one and I was able to let it go. I also really wanted the pair of them to work out and realize they were totally right for each other so maybe that allowed me to ignore their issues with communicating!
Zander Matthews wakes up every day determined to enjoy the present because he knows from his time in the Marines that tomorrow isn’t guaranteed. But he’s never gotten over the beautiful woman who blew through town a year ago, then disappeared. And he doesn’t want to be hurt again. So they agree to a deal: he’ll help Imani fix up her grandmother’s house as long as they stay firmly in the friend zone.
Whether it’s repairing tiles in his ceramics studio, dodging nosy neighbors, or soothing the most obnoxious parrot ever, Zander never fails to make Imani laugh. And soon their friendly banter is turning ever flirtier. But since Imani’s stay is temporary and Zander can’t be tied to anything beyond the most tenuous plans, will she be able to handle it when things get all fired up?
Thinking back, I think the relationship that stole the show in this book wasn’t Zander and Imani but Imani and her grandmother. Their bond was so strong and I love seeing relationships like that in books. I also just loved her grandmother so much! She was one feisty and smart lady and was too much fun to read about.
I was totally rooting for Imani and Zander to get together but knew it was SO important for them each to figure out their own lives first. Imani was clearly not happy at work, even though she was hella competent and so amazing at her job. Zander also had a great thing going but he hadn’t quite gotten a handle on the whole Adulting thing (not that I’m judging – I’m still struggling with a few areas of Adulting myself!) I knew once they sorted out their shit, the romance would follow and the pay off would be so worth it. (Spoiler alert: it was!)
The first two books were pretty connected with the women being best friends and the men being brothers. I’m not sure how book three will feel since we don’t know the third brother too well and there was no obvious love interest introduced. I’m still looking forward to it!
Content warnings in this one include the death of Imani’s mother in a house fire – which occurred when she was young but is discussed and there’s a triggering incident for her – and a complicated birth/labour scene near the end of the book.
I very much enjoyed All Fired Up and am eagerly awaiting Dylan Newton’s next novel. She’s created such a wonderful small town and characters that you just can’t help but fall in love with!
*An egalley of this novel was provided by the publisher, Forever, via NetGalley in exchange for review consideration. All opinions are honest and my own.*