Review: Fan the Flames by Michele Dunaway (Man of the Month #3)

Note: This ARC was provided by St. Martin's Press in exchange for an honest review.

Even as a former Navy SEAL and now a marine rescue firefighter, Brad Silverman has never thought of himself as a hero. He still carries with him the guilt of not being able to convince his best friend to not re-enlist. His own decision to return to civilian life has Brad wondering if he could have saved Todd Harrison had he signed on for another tour. Two years later, he vows to keep his promise to Todd by ensuring that his best friend's widow and young daughter are taken care of and that Scarlett Harrison receives the letter her husband left behind at the designated time Todd set: when Scarlett has found love with someone new.

Scarlett Harrison has agreed to return to her hometown of St. Louis with her daughter Colleen by her side. Her late husband's best friend, someone that Scarlett has also been friends with since they were all in high school, has offered for them to live in the house he's renovating. Being around Brad Silverman brings to mind the one kiss they both shared when they were younger, before Todd came into the picture. Brad's a great guy and has gone above and beyond to make Scarlett and Colleen feel at home. As they contemplate whether to become more than friends, Brad's guilt and secret could destroy what they have.

Fan the Flames is the latest book in the Man of the Month series from author Michele Dunaway. I initially thought this was the second installment, having read and reviewed Burning for You in April of this year and which I believed was the first in the series. I just found out, as I was saving the book cover image off of Goodreads, that this is actually the third book and that the first one, A Little Christmas Jingle, was released in October 2014. I'll definitely be checking that first book out because, while reading what I thought was book two, I wondered if Kat Saunders and Jack Donovan's tale would be told as a novella (since they were already a couple here). Now, I finally put everything together and see that their story was already told and that it's the start of the series. If I've confused you, I apologize. I tend to ramble at times.

Brad Silverman and Scarlett Harrison have known each other since they were both in high school and actually had a connection way back then. But fate had other plans and Scarlett ended up with Brad's best friend, Todd Harrison. Some time after Todd's passing, Scarlett and Brad find solace in one another's friendship and company, a bond that becomes firmer once Scarlett returns to their hometown. The feelings of guilt due to their attraction toward each other is natural, and I liked that this was more of a slow burn and neither Brad or Scarlett rushed into anything but still had a curiosity about being together. This implies that while the mutual grief they have over Todd's death is still there, they're both ready to move forward with their own lives, a transition that was treated and paced very well in this touching story.

There were times in the book that I couldn't help but wonder why Scarlett, who had been away from their hometown for a decade, seemed more familiar with the goings-on of the place compared to Brad, who had returned after his decision to not re-enlist and instead become a firefighter and has been living in the area. Also, they're both from the same hometown so you would think that Brad would know all about the fish fry and other festivities their place celebrated annually. It just seemed strange how unfamiliar certain things were to Brad, almost as if he was only hearing about them now. Other than that niggling point of contention, I enjoyed reading about Brad and Scarlett's love story about finding love the second time around and learning to truly move on after a devastating loss. Fan the Flames gets four out of five stars. ♥

Release Date: 18 August 2015

Date Read: 12 August 2015

Learn more about Michele Dunaway here.

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