Rating: 3.75 stars
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Simon Winters has been hot for his boss, firefighter Michael Donovan, since he started working for the man. After hoping something would develop between them, Simon finally accepted it was not going to happen. Working with Michael every day was too difficult however, so Simon transferred stations and switched from firefighting to being an paramedic. At least this way he doesn’t have to see Michael every day and deal with the pain of the man’s lack of interest.
When one of the firefighters under Michael’s command is seriously injured, Michael is just devastated. Not just for the man’s serious injuries, but for the sense of responsibility he feels for having put the man into the life threatening situation. When the guilt and the pain has Michael hiding away from the world, Simon is the only one who is able to get through to him. The two have a hot hookup, which seems to be opening the way for more, much to Simon’s delight. But Michael still worries about the age gap between them and feels like staying away from Simon might be best. When Simon has his own stress to deal with however, Michael realizes he wants to be there for Simon. Now that Michael has finally opened his eyes to his feelings for Simon, he must hope that it is not too late to take care of his man.
Fused by Fire is the third book in Draven St. James’ Firehouse Six series and Simon and Michael have been side characters in the first two books. We have seen Simon’s pain at Michaels’ lack of interest all along and so I was really excited to see them finally get together in this book. Both men are really likable, with Michael as the big, gruff, and protective lieutenant and Simon as the sweet younger man who always tries to keep people’s spirits up. So I was pleased to see them get their happy ending here.
This story deals with several issues, the most interesting to me being Michael’s reaction to one of his firefighters getting seriously injured. Michael did everything right, following protocol, and even saving the man’s life. But knowing that the man was in the fire because of Michael’s command is still killing him. We see Michael really at a loss and withdraw from everything as he tries to come to terms with what happened. I do wish this had been explored in a little more depth, however. It is such a complex issue, and I would have loved more insight to Michael’s feelings, and how he finally comes to terms with the situation and moves past it. Things just felt perhaps a little underdeveloped.
While I liked this book, that was somewhat of a common theme for me, this sense that the conflicts were just a little vague and not fully developed. I am wondering if it is in part because the main conflict between Michael and Simon happens as a side note in a previous book. We never see the tension between the two men when they are working together, or get insight into how painful Simon’s unrequited attraction is for him, so severe in fact that he has to change jobs. This feeling drives so many of Simon’s actions, but we don’t get it explored in much depth here. Michael was an even harder read for me, as we have known all along about Simon’s feelings and Michael’s are still not totally clear to me, even after reading this book. I couldn’t ever tell if Michael just didn’t notice Simon or whether he liked him but was keeping him at a distance. There seems to be evidence for both options. We also are told Michael is wary of getting involved with Simon because of their age difference, but other than some vague comments on how he has seen other relationships fail for this reason, it is never explored in depth. If this is going to be the major stumbling block that keeps things from moving forward with the men, I wanted to better understand Michael’s feelings on the issue.
To a degree I felt the same way with the final conflict, and that is Simon’s coming out to his family and their rejection of him. Again, this happens before the timing of the story (though we do get a flashback scene). So when this conflict flares back up again, I felt like some of the intensity was missing because we missed the beginning. Things do develop more over the course of the book, however, and I did like where things ended up quite a lot (though Michael taking matters into his own hands seemed like a major overstep and one he is not adequately remorseful about). But I do think of all the conflicts, this one came together the best for me.
So overall I liked this story and I continue to enjoy this series. After the build up from the previous books, it was nice to finally see Simon get his man and these two find their way together. I wish things were a bit meatier, as so many interesting issues are in play here and I just didn’t feel like they all got their full due. But this is a nice addition to the series and if you have been following along, you will definitely want to see how Michael and Simon get their happily ever after.
P.S. Draven came by earlier this month with a great exclusive excerpt from the book. The giveaway is over but you can get a sneak peek at the story here.