Taking the Heat by Kathryn Shay
published by Berkley in May 2008
Working as the cook at his family's pub, Liam O'Neil has nothing but respect for his firefighter regulars. But when firefighter Sophie Tyler takes a part-time job at the pub, Liam must be cautious. A widower with two young sons, he can't put his heart on the line for someone who walks into burning buildings. But how can he ignore the fire burning within?
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: O'Neil siblings, book #3
Nath: After reading Casee's review of this book over at Book Binge, I had to have it. Then, I realized that I've previously read this author and have felt 'meh' about her writing. If it wasn't for this buddy review, I think that it would have sit in my TBR pile for way longer. As it is, I'm kind of glad I read it...
My main issue with Taking the Heat is that I didn't feel anything for this book. I didn't connect with the characters and I wasn't engrossed with the storyline. Part of the reason I think is that the writing lacks a bit of passion. It felt quite clinical to me. I realized that the author tried to make the storyline as realistic as possible with real firefighters issues, but I thought it depressing... Let see, Ms Shay focused on all the negative points in my opinion: female firefighters having difficulty making it in a male world, the dangers, firefighters not being present for their family enough, how the families have difficulty to cope, etc. I know those are disadvantages of the profession, but still. She could have focused on one or two perhaps? Not throw one after the other at the readers.
Ames: I agree. There was just so much angst for all the characters! From Mikey with his abandonment issues to all the couples having a rough time. This book was...I don't want to say too real, but it was too much of one thing and not enough of the other. Because again I agree with you, there wasn't any passion. Even when Liam takes Sophie up against the wall at the Halloween party, I was like, "meh." There was no heat for me. And it did seem very clinical. Like everyone was rationally talking about their feelings and going to the shrink. There were no heated arguments between Liam and Sophie. Where's the passion???? I swear, the brothers had more heated conversation and arguments than the couples did.
Nath: I think the author was too busy focusing on the "realism" that she completely missed the romance. It was too much angst and how to make this relationship work and showing the every day life... I think she should have added a bit more scenes of Liam and Sophie enjoying their time together, being together. I mean, there were some scenes, but not enough to balance the whole book.
The sex scenes almost felt like an after-thought. The heat level in this book was very dim. The first scene also seems to come from no where. I had the feeling the author added them because this was a romance :(
Also, like you brought up, I found it strange that they were all talking about their feelings so rationally. I've never seen couples and men so eager to talk it out ^_^;
Like I mentioned above, I didn't connect with the story nor Sophie and Liam. I don't like or dislike them. They're just people who I don't care about. I do have one complaint however concerning Liam about how he became irrational after he told Sophie he loved her. I mean, he wasn't planning to date her because she was a firefighter and that was an issue because of his son, not him. Then, once they started dating, they decided to work it out. She went with him to his shrink, which by the way I found cute and screams "commitment" to me. He was fine, going to the museum, getting to know more about her job, watching movies, etc. I mean, if you go to these lengths, then her schedule shouldn't be a big surprise and it's a small thing compared to the dangers that you accepted. I know that usually, things in a relationship changes when someone declares his/her love. In this case, once he told her "I love you," he immediately reminded her that she now has a family. Um, pressure!?!?! Then, he started being angry because she wouldn't be there for Thanksgiving. Then, he was pissed because she had to take a call from her brother... It just didn't make sense to me. It seems like Liam was suddenly another person... and I know, he was in luuuurv, but still, you don't do such a 180 degrees.
Ames: Yeah that kind of bothered me too. And remember, there was that discussion he had with his brother - when he said his wife had done nothing dangerous in her life but she still got taken away. So he was going to take a chance on Sophie. And then he did the switcheroo.
Nath: The switch didn't make much sense to me. It could have been avoided if they've taken their relationshp more slowly I think. I just felt strange... Like you said, he was going to take a chance on Sophie... so why the change of heart? I would have understood if from the beginning, he didn't put efforts in understanding her career, but it's not the case. Ah well... I guess the book needed more drama.
At the same time, I'm not saying that Sophie didn't have her faults. I mean, she should have worked with him when she started realizing she was having some problems instead of pushing him away... At the same time, she took great lengths to try to explain things to Mike, how they should cope with the dangers associated to her job and be present for them. I'm not surprised when Liam gave her the ultimatum and she refused to stop being a firefighter.
Ames: I'm glad she didn't give up her dream to make her man happy. Seriously, if she had stopped being a firefighter, I would have thrown this book against the wall. LOL And in that respect, I did like this book because Sophie still got to be who she was.
Nath: True, I'm glad that she didn't give in either. It's simple to me: Liam met Sophie, the firefighter and fell in love with Sophie, the firefighter. If he takes it away from her, than she's not the Sophie he fell in love with anymore. I was a bit annoyed that she compromised at the end, but I guess it does make sense if she wants to have a baby soon. Still, it only delays the inevitable in my opinion... or it's something they should have tried to work out better before he gave her an ultimatum. Have the whole family be more accustomed to her job and get to know each other even better.
Also, where did Mike's abandonment problems come from? From the fact that his mother died? I don't resent the kid of his problem; however, I'm just wondering where the source comes from. I don't think that was ever explain properly.
Ames: I thought Mike's problem was explained well enough. I understood it. But I liked Mike. He seemed cute. But his dad gave him so much power. I don't know, this didn't feel like a true romance to me because of all the issues going on and all the kids' issues.
Nath: Exactly. Well actually, I thought everyone had too many issues. If there was only Mike's problem, then perhaps it wouldn't have been so bad and it could still have the feel of a romance.
Hmmm, what else? Personally, I didn't enjoy the fact that both Aidan and Liam had the same problem, i.e. couldn't cope with the career of the woman they love. I mean, it's a bit redundant no? Also, I thought the part about Nathan disappearing wasn't necessary. It did serve the plot - getting Liam to see and take care of Sophie again, but I think the author could have chosen another route... because didn't Sophie go through enough yet? Being injured, being abandonned by the man she loves because of her career, finding out that the man she considered a brother was causing arson and targeting her team... and on top of that, having her adored brother MIA? How much can a strong woman take?
Ames: LOL Yeah, I thought that part had a "filler" feel to it.
Nath: My favorite parts throughout the book was the brothers interaction, rubbing and teasing each other. The father and sons relationship between Liam and his sons was nice too. It's rare to see a father so devoted to his children.
Ames: I don't think it's rare.
I just don't like this author's style of writing. That's where the big bone of contention is for me. I won't be reading her again. I'm giving it a C.
Nath: I don't think I will either :( This is the second book I'm reading and well, I just can't feel the romance :( I was thinking of B- or C+, but after discussing the book with you... a C feels right.