This is the sequel to Cuffed, another book about the yummy Malone brothers. The first one was about the oldest, Grant, the cop. This book is about the second oldest, Grady, the firefighter. This is a high chemistry book where the phrase Malone sandwich is frequently used. Those three Malone brothers are hot, sexy and upstanding men in their little town, where everybody knows everybody’s business.
Enter Dylan McCoy, songwriter, little sister of Grady’s friend Damon. She needs somewhere to stay where she can write songs for a Jett Kroger album. Jett Kroger is her ex-boyfriend, whom she caught in bed with Tara Perfect Tits. Since Dylan is bound by a contract but she doesn’t want to be near Jett, she’s sorta hiding in Grady’s house. But then she finds out he’s a firefighter, and Dylan has a thing about firefighters.
As soon as I started the book I could tell this was going to be a book about emotional issues. Dylan’s father left them when she was little, and her mother turned to the bottle in her grief. Now Dylan has seen her mother go through a lot of rehabs, so she has a dim view of a firefighter’s sense of fidelity.
Grady was catastrophically hurt in a fire where his partner and best friend also died. Grady has guilty feelings about not saving his friend, who left behind a widow and little boy. He swore he would never have a serious girlfriend or marry so he would not cause suffering to a family in case something happened to him.
So when Dylan and Grady met, there was chemistry, but there were a lot of issues between them. Dylan is on the rebound and Jett’s betrayal has affected her self-awareness, so she’s like a shrinking violet, unassuming. Even so, Grady finds her fascinating and loves to hear her make music. There’s a lot of bantering, playing with Petunia the pig, interacting with Grady’s fabulous brothers, dealing with Jett and trying to keep him away, and finishing the twenty songs due for the album.
Grady and Dylan help each other overcome their issues; Dylan helps Grady accept his scars and show them instead of hiding in t-shirts all the time. Grady helped Dylan in her self-awareness and sexiness. Even so, their issues were kept front and center all the time, and even when they became lovers, it still presented a barrier.
The book was entertaining, lots of bantering, lots of humorous family times, but it didn’t have the magic of Cuffed. I think the type of issue these two characters had didn’t appeal to me and they clung to their issues for too long, IMO. I liked the book, but it’s not my favorite. However, it must be said that the writing is excellent and the pace good. It never lagged and kept me interested to know what happened next. I love these small town romances where you get all the characters intervening.