Zach is heir to a media empire—except he doesn’t want it. His father is an influential man, but Zach doesn’t share his father’s passion for politics and he knows he’s not the best fit to run the media group. Due to his beliefs, Zach’s father has always been a targeted man and that has extended to Zach as well and each day there are more and more negative comments on social media that Zach has to deal with, yet he can’t stay away from reading them. When he meets Alec at the gym, Zach knows exactly who he wants next and Alec is right there on the same page.
Alec is ex-military and has his own security business and works high profile jobs as a bodyguard. He’s not used to the life that Zach leads, but he’s devoted to Zach and wants him to be safe and happy. But in order to expand his business, Alec is called away from NYC and their relationship can’t handle the strain.
Three years later, Zach’s life has changed. He parties less, he’s off social media, and he’s repaired the relationship with his sister after she was in a devastating car accident. But being connected to his father has now put a target on his back and, with fanatics trying to kill him, his father hires Alec to protect Zach. Zach can’t handle the pain of seeing the only man that broke his heart, but Alec is the best and Zach trusts him with his life. Now, if only Zach can trust Alec with his heart once again.
I have enjoyed other books by this author, but Stoking the Fire does not fall into that category. The style of writing here was a departure from what I have seen from Kostova in the past and it was not to my taste at all. This is also the first book I have seen billed as a romantic suspense from this author and that was definitely not a strong aspect of this story.
The book is mostly telling with only glimpses of showing. There is also too much that is completely off page. When Zach and Alec meet, it’s supposed to be hot attraction at first sight, but it never hit that mark for me. I like to read great scenes of both love at first sight and that first spark of attraction, but this had no spark to it at all. The men hook up quickly and for as attracted as Zach says he is to Alec, the scene felt flat and uninspired. We were in the room with them, but the way the scene was written, we may as well not have been as we are told so much than rather being shown it.
The book is written entirely from Zach’s POV and he wasn’t a strong enough character to pull this off. Somewhere during Zach and Alec dating, they fell in love, but their connection was so far off the page it read like it never happened. Zach has a following on social media and all we hear about are the negative comments that drive Zach’s anxiety, but this whole backstory is also so much off page that his distress has nothing to ground it. Zach’s father is a known businessman due to his media group and that is a muddled story as well. He’s politically connected and the references to American politics lacked authenticity and came off as if they were learned about second hand and then fitted into the story.
Zach and Alec part ways and three years pass. Zach’s sister is in a car accident, which is off page, which sparks their reconciliation as siblings, which is also off page. Then Zach’s life is threatened due to his father’s business dealings and the whole family is supposed to have bodyguards, but it seems like Zach is the only one that actually has a bodyguard day to day and he’s the one really being targeted for some reason. Of course, the chemistry that we were told about between Zach and Alec is again just not there on the page. The action in this book was weak and I’ll leave it there. Nothing in this book worked for me. There are more books planned in this series for side characters that added as much to the plot as the main characters here and it’s highly disappointing that I can’t recommend or continue on with this series.