Note: This ARC was provided by Tasty Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.
Once Burned is the first book in the new contemporary romance series from author Lisa B. Kamps entitled Firehouse Fourteen. This was a second chance love story between Michaela Donaldson, a twenty-eight-year-old firefighter, and Nick Lansing, a twenty-nine-year-old high school English teacher, who were each other's first love ten years ago until a life-changing car accident left Kaley with permanent scars--both the ones that can be seen and the ones that are in her heart--and had Nicky turning away and leaving her without a word. It takes a decade for their paths to cross again and in the unlikeliest of circumstances. They are no longer Kaley and Nicky; Instead, Mike is filled with anger and bitterness at coming face to face with Nick, and while all he wants is the chance to explain why he left all those years ago, she refuses to listen to whatever he has to say. Once burned, could this be their chance to rekindle a love that still burns?
This was a story filled with a lot of strong emotions, as it should because I honestly would have felt the same way Mike/Kaley did upon seeing Nick again. While it's clear that he's riddled with guilt over abandoning her and I understand his reasons behind it, what I don't get is why he never made any move to make amends within those ten years. In this day and age, it would have been easy enough for him to locate her if he really wanted to. What he chose to do was to go live his own life without ever looking back, even if he did claim to have never forgotten her. I think it's this decade-long inaction with regards to the one girl that he loved that made me hesitate going all in emotionally. I mean, good for him for cleaning up his act and getting help, but I thought that part of the process of rehab is owning up to past mistakes with the people they've hurt the most. Yes, Nick did that, but only because he was already confronted with his past.
While I was a bit iffy when it came to Nick and Kaley getting back together, I did like how the topic of alcoholism was tackled in this book. It played an important part in Nick and Kaley's story, and that scene involving the high school seniors who were supposed to listen to a presentation about the hazards of drunk driving was a heartrending and poignant one. I was waiting, though, for Kaley's own penchant for drinking to be given a stronger resolution, especially since she was playing it off as nothing more than a leisurely thing for her to do. Even with what I considered a couple of hiccups in the book, this was an overall good read and the kind of series starter that leaves me curious about what else may be in store as the series continues. I'm thinking Jay Moore, Kaley's partner and best friend, may be up next, but whether it does turn out to be Jay's story or not, I'll be looking forward to reading it. Four stars for Once Burned. ♥
Date Read: 30 March 2016
Learn more about Lisa B. Kamps.