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The Rambling Writer Book Review: Mr. September by Michele Dunaway

A literally hot romance between a sexy firefighter and the photographer capturing his image for a charity calendar.

I decided I’d better read Mr. September from the newest member of Book View Café publishing cooperative because, well, sexy firefighter. I can testify that the trope of hunky firefighters is an actual thing, since the freezing night Thor and I nearly burned down our wood-burning sauna a few years ago. The guys who showed up after we called 911 – oops, our hose was frozen – were very cute, as well as cheerful heroes in putting out the flames and advising us on safety protocols. But I digress….

Mr. September, Joe Marino, could probably set off flames just by walking in the door, and as Taylor Krebs photographs him (shirtless, in firefighting gear) for a local charity calendar, she feels the temperature rising. His shameless flirting makes it hard to concentrate on the job, but she has no intention of getting involved with an alpha male after escaping her stalker ex.

Turns out Joe is actually a decent guy hiding a personal secret. He persuades Taylor to film burn victims for a book project to promote healing, and romance ignites. But secrets held by both of them create problems, and they both need to face their demons.

The story moves along briskly, with appropriate hotness episodes, as it hits the expected romance notes. Where Dunaway rises above formula is in creating characters tackling real issues – both personal and larger. Taylor demonstrates caring and sensitivity in dealing with burn victims, as well as volunteering to help bereaved families at the local hospital. Both Joe and his family demonstrate the value of community in supporting burn victims. They both have to learn to forgive in order to move past fears and guilt, and Dunaway presents their dilemmas believably.

I also approve of the way Dunaway avoids an artifice I see too often in novels – where characters repeatedly and seemingly deliberately create misunderstandings in order to draw out the supposed suspense of a storyline. When I read those stories, I just want to tell the characters they are idiots, and please just sit down and talk to the other person already! Thankfully, Joe and Taylor are smart and considerate enough to be reasonable and not drag out the confusions.

Thanks, Michele Dunaway, and welcome to Book View Café!

*****

You will find The Rambling Writer’s blog posts here every Saturday. Sara’s latest novel from Book View Café is Pause, First Place winner of the Chanticleer Somerset Award and an International Pulpwood Queens Book Club selection. “A must-read novel about friendship, love, and killer hot flashes.” (Mindy Klasky). Sign up for her quarterly email newsletter at www.sarastamey.com

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