Review – Seeing Red by Jill Shalvis

Seeing RedPublisher: Forever Yours
Publish Date: Out Now
How I got this book: NetGalley

Summer Abrams left everything behind-the warehouse fire that took her father’s life, the town where her world fell apart, and her best friend in the world, Joe Walker. All she carried with her was guilt. Now, twelve years later, another fire has devastated the same warehouse, and Summer returns to Ocean Beach to search for answers. But what she finds first is an old flame that never went out . . .

Joe Walker has become the town fire marshal-sexy, strong, and an expert at keeping people at bay. The only person he ever let into his heart broke it and left town without a word. Now that she’s back, Joe swears he won’t fall for Summer again . . . but the heat between them is irresistible. As he tries to help her heal the past, can he take a risk on building a future with Summer?
*Blurb from Goodreads*

I’m a huge fan of Jill Shalvis, so now that Forever Yours is going back and re-issuing some of her older titles, I’m all over getting the chance to read more of her backlist.

Summer and Joe were best friends as kids. When a warehouse fire kills her father, Summer escapes her hometown and runs as far and as fast as she can, not even bothering to say goodbye. Now that she is back to assist her mother with another string of fires, Summer and Joe are thrown back together, as victim and investigator.

Joe never got over Summer leaving, and now that she is back all those old feelings are resurfacing. He realizes that he wants more than she is able to give, but is willing to fight to show her just how great they can be together. But someone is burning down buildings connected to Summer’s family, and the future is, now more than ever, uncertain.

I really love Shalvis’ work, but it seems like I’m able to connect better with her more recent books. While I enjoyed this overall story, there was an element missing that usually pulls me in and connects me to Shalvis’ writing. Maybe it’s the lack of the outright humor that is common in the Lucky Harbor series. Who knows. But despite that missing umph, I still really enjoyed this book.

I adored Joe, and was a little mad that Summer put him through such crap in order to be with her. Despite the fact that Joe told her, loud and clear, that he couldn’t deal with her aloofness and inability to connect emotionally, Summer still steamrolled ahead and seduced Joe into a physical relationship. The anguish that Joe went through every time he tried to connect more than sexually with her was so real, and I wanted to beat Summer with a stick each and every time she denied him. I wanted Summer to have to make a big declaration of her feelings to Joe, but I never was satisfied in that area.

Although Summer was emotionally lacking, I did feel for her character. She had to endure so much with losing her father to the fire, and her mother emotionally. It was a blow that any high school aged girl would feel crushed by, and Summer was no exception. I could absolutely understand her inability to connect, and at times even could see where she was coming from. Still, I would have liked to see her open up a bit more to Joe.

The romance between these two was rocky. The strong bond they had as kids was crushed to pieces, so rebuilding that friendship was difficult to do while also dancing around their sexual tension. I liked that Joe was at times both so strong, and so weak when it came to Summer. He was so in love with her, even after all those years, that he had trouble saying no to her, to denying her anything. But like I said, I would have liked to see not only a little more effort on Summer’s part, but also a bigger gesture from her, instead of just her words of devotion.

All in all I enjoyed this early book from Shalvis. The secondary cast of characters were all wonderful, and I’m definitely going to have to go back and see if Shalvis wrote more about Summer’s eccentric family. I also loved the fire investigation plot, as it was a good suspense thread. Unfortunately, the romance was the one aspect that I felt feel a little short.
I give Seeing Red a C+

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