Saturday, September 18, 2010

Burning Up by Susan Andersen ****

Andersen is one of my favorite contemporary romance authors. She writes upbeat, fun and often funny plots, with fully fleshed out characters, and some of them have become Save From the Fire keepers for me.

This one was good, I really liked it but it never quite crossed into keeper status. For one thing, it seemed like she was trying too hard to use that Deep POV that Suzanne Brockmann uses/describes - getting so truly into the head and thoughts of the character that even the narrative uses their style of speaking, as if we were actually hearing their thoughts. This became almost too cutesy for me - as if everything the protagonists thought was at a level-5-high-anxiety, practically from page 1. Like Andersen was trying too hard. I dunno. It bothered me.

But I liked the characters pretty well - Macy was the misunderstood girl who in high school had been wrongly accused of being easy, and still carried the reputation and the scars from that. She had made something of herself as a star of music videos (I guess it ages me that I didn't even realize there were stars in music videos other than the musicians) but that didn't stop the local crowd, still stuck in Dumfukville, er I mean Sugarville, from hating her. Everywhere she went, people still talked about her, behind her back and even in her face. (man, I'm glad I don't go back to my small home town!)

Gabe was the new fire chief, big, buff and also with a past - a mother who left him in foster homes, a wild teenager who managed to straighten up and become a true hero. It was a little unsettling to find out he had a steady date in Sugarville - Grace - and I knew Andersen wasn't going to have our hero cheat, so she was going to have to kill off Grace somehow. She managed to do it by introducing one more character, a rock star friend of Macy's. That also gave Gabe some competition even though Rock Star and Macy were really like sister and brother. Oh - she didn't actually kill Grace, but she did have Gabe break up with her so he could pursue Macy, which worked for Grace since she was far more attracted to the Rock Star anyway.

The other plot swirling around was some dumpster and abandoned home fires that were starting to smack of arson - a sort of background mystery plot that gave Gabe something to do while Macy was in town.

It wasn't much of a mystery - mostly she concentrated on getting Macy and Gabe together and letting them get accustomed to their new feelings. She writes hot getting-together scenes, and that includes the tension building ones where one of our protagonists comes to his or her senses before they get too far. She included a couple of kids and a kindly Auntie Em and Uncle Henry (not their real names) to round out the family. Her books are big on creating families from the friends and neighbors when the hero or heroine have no immediate families of their own.

It was a pretty quick read, although I did skim a little too much and missed some details that made me go backtracking. I Liked It A Lot 4 stars!

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