Title: All Fired Up
Series: Ashes and Dust: Book One
Author: Jenn Burke
Publisher: Carina Press
Length: 256 Pages
Category: Urban Fantasy, Romantic Suspense
Rating: 5 Stars
At a Glance: All Fired Up didn’t just meet my expectations, it exceeded them. I adored every twist and turn and surprise Jenn Burke threw into this one, and I can’t in any way fathom how fans of the Not Dead Yet trilogy won’t love the start to this new series.
Reviewed By: Lisa
Blurb: Once bitten. Twice burned. Forever bonded.
Paranormals are dying. All over the city, with no explanation and only one thing in common: their magic is missing.
Vampire and private investigator Evan Fournier isn’t supposed to be taking on paranormal cases, but when the murderer hits close to home, he agrees to look into it. The last thing he expects is to become a target himself—and then to become irrevocably bonded to the man who just tried to kill him.
With his memory gone and his soul bonded to a stranger, former firefighter Colin Zhang wants to be anywhere else. He doesn’t have a damn clue why he just tried to kill Evan, and he didn’t even know about magic until just now. The sooner he can get back to his real life, the better.
But every time either of them tries to leave, pure agony stops them short. Forced to work with Evan or suffer the consequences, Colin must excavate the secrets buried in his missing memories while battling two rising threats: the conspiracy behind the murder, and his mutual attraction to the bond mate he never wanted.
Review: This spinoff of Jenn Burke’s Not Dead Yet trilogy was one of my most anticipated book releases coming into the second quarter of this year. The great news is that All Fired Up didn’t just meet my expectations, it exceeded them, delivering some lovely romantic suspense and taking vampire Evan Fournier a few years into the future—along with Wes, Hud, Lexi, Sam, Priya, and some other familiar faces—and also candidly addressing such topics as grief and depression with a deep sense of understanding and compassion.
Though Wes and Hudson do make an appearance in All Fired Up, there is never a question of whether this is fully Evan’s story. It is. In fact, Wes and Hud are in London for the lion’s share of the time due to a health scare with Hudson’s estranged brother, which leaves Evan in charge of Caballero Investigations with one stipulation: absolutely no taking on any paranormal cases while they’re out of the country, because aren’t they the ones that always end up going sideways? So of course the first case Evan takes on is a paranormal mystery offered up by his therapist, Dr. Anika Kozlow, involving a series of inexplicable illnesses that have resulted in several deaths. The one thing they all have in common is the Rising Sun Retreat.
And this is where the story gets really, really good.
I absolutely loved the twists and surprises Burke threw at Colin Zhang’s character, and that’s all I’m going to say because I do not want to spoil his story in any way. Suffice it to say it’s got some poignance to it that adds to his adversarial relationship with Evan, not to mention some crazy-fun paranormal stuff. I also loved how she turned the forced proximity trope up to ELEVEN with the unintentional soul bond that formed between Colin and Evan in one of the most harrowing and intense moments in the story. This is not at all an insta-love sort of soul bond, though; it’s more of a slow-burn (no pun intended, I guess) with lots of work left to do and feelings to explore before these guys have what could be deemed anything like a long-term relationship. Evan’s depression and his grief and his inner voice, the one that tells him he’s unworthy and that he’s an imposter, all hit in ways that only serve to make him such a sympathetic character, and I grew to love him even more now than I did already.
If you loved the Not Dead Yet trilogy, I can’t in any way fathom this first book in the Ashes and Dust series isn’t going to give you lots to look forward to, not only in the mysteries I’m sure are yet to come for the Caballero Investigations gang but with Evan and Colin forging their way ahead and discovering something beautiful with each other. The important thing right now is that I’m totally invested in them growing together and have no doubt the author will get them to their forever right on time.
You can buy All Fired Up here:
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