Kissing Fire (An Edge Novel # 3) by A.M. Hargrove
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Date Published: April 15, 2013
Each book in An Edge Novel series can be read as a stand alone
Preston Mitchell, undercover DEA agent, has led a life of danger and obscurity. Knowing his job would never allow a normal relationship, he’s never opened himself up to any woman…that is until the lovely Avery Middleton stumbles into his life.
To the outsider, Avery has it all…wealth, family, connections and a great job. But on the inside, she’s miserable. Her social life is in the dumpster, the kooky gal next door has some zany plans for her and her selfish mother drives Avery to the point of insanity. Her only salvation is to get out of Charleston and start a new life. So that’s precisely what she does. She moves to Seattle and steps right into the path of hot and sexy, Preston.
Unfortunately for both of them, Avery ends up being in the wrong place at the wrong time and is now running for her life. But she’s not alone. She has a gorgeous DEA agent protecting her and suddenly finds herself irresistibly captivated by him. There’s only one problem. Preston carries more than his share of mental baggage, courtesy of his job. His covert missions have put him in places and situations he can barely stand to think about. Avery rocks Preston’s world because she is nothing like anyone he’s ever met and something extraordinary begins to happen between them. But can their love survive in this world, where danger, intrigue and deception lurk on every corner?
Kissing Fire is a contemporary romance that blends a comedic and serious tone to tell this story. Based on the book’s description, I expected more of a dangerous, action-oriented story involving romance, so I was happily surprised to find this book includes funny, light-heart moments to provide relief from some of the painful, and, at times, heart-wrenching aspects of the storyline.
The initial setting for the story is Charleston, South Carolina, where Avery Middleton realizes her social and romantic life has become stagnant. Longing for a change, she accepts a job in Seattle and moves with the intention of starting over. Although Avery comes from a privileged family, she wants to be independent from her family’s wealth and be successful on her own. Avery is an easily likeable character because of her feisty nature, humorous thoughts, and the unexpected situations she often finds herself in, leading to, sometimes, embarrassing and belling jiggling laughter.
Upon arrival to Seattle, Avery visits her brother who has also moved away from home to start a life with his new wife. Caroline. There, she coincidentally meets Preston Mitchell, Caroline’s brother, who is staying with the couple. Preston is a DEA agent who has recently returned to the country after completing his latest undercover mission.
When Avery and Preston meet, they instantly fall into lust for each other. By providing both Avery’s and Preston’s point-of-view, I was able to really connect with and care about them because I’m given insight into their private thoughts that clearly reveal their insecurities and vulnerabilities.
Working undercover has put Preston into more than his share of unimaginable horrors. Because of his past, Preston sees himself as “Dirty. Disgusting. And certainly not fit for proper society.” He believes that he will never find a good woman capable of loving him because of the physical and psychological scars that have skewed his perspective.
Preston initially hides his profession from Avery to protect his identity, but, when a Mexican Drug Cartel finds his location, he is forced to go on the run, dragging Avery along with him, since she now become a target as well. Although Avery is strongly attracted to the sexy DEA Agent, her low self-esteem and body image issues make her think Preston would never be interested in her. An awkward situation provides the impetus for them to reveal their insecurities and paves the way for romance.
I fell in love with Preston over the course of the story. His willingness to sacrifice his personal happiness for his country is more than admirable, given what he’s endured. I also loved how he is direct and honest with Avery, so that she knows what she’s getting into before they pursue the relationship. As he reveals the gritty, raw details of his past, Avery always responds to him in a way that soothes Preston’s mind and body. They are so good for each other on an emotional level because they consistently boost one another’s self-esteem. I also appreciated that Preston wants more than just a sexual relationship with Avery. He wants her heart before they become intimate. Their time alone together allows their attraction to grow into love. The passion between them is hot, steamy, and intense!
Everything is wonderful until Preston confesses a secret he’s been keeping from Avery, and everything falls apart. Avery is angry, hurt by Preston’s actions, and she doesn’t feel she can trust him anymore. Once Preston explains the motivation behind his actions, I know I could forgive him. However, Avery thinks he’s destroyed her life. I have to admit, I think Avery overreacts by giving up on their relationship so quickly after they have worked so hard to establish a strong foundation.
Nevertheless, Avery leaves Preston. She leaves Seattle to start over yet again. Although the hurt and pain over their breakup lingers, a visit from her friend Melissa, a female sumo wrestler, with her outrageous antics provides a nice diversion to Avery’s somber mood.
A central question from this point in the story is whether Preston and Avery can truly let go of their love for each other. In the midst of all this angst, Preston and Avery again find their lives endangered, and the action and suspense that follow, as these conflicts are resolved, also contribute to making this book a worthwhile read.
Excerpt from Kissing Fire
Boy oh boy, was Preston hot. Make that boiling. Scorching. Molten lava kind of hot. Messy dark brown, slightly wavy hair that was not long but not short either. And, oh what a mouth he had. His mouth made me want to jump on board and ride that train for life. His lips were the perfect kind of full and every so often, he’d run his tongue across them and I’d automatically squirm. His face was pure angular perfection…high cheekbones with those slight hollows beneath them, that were the perfect shape to accommodate my lips. But those eyes…my oh my. They were golden brown, like coffee with lots of cream. I could only imagine what they looked like right when he was…
Cheezits Ava, get your head out of the bedroom!
“Wouldn’t you agree Ava?” my brother was asking me.
I shook my head and swallowed. “I’m sorry, what did you say?”
“We were talking about the weather here in the summer and I was saying how much more pleasant it is than in Charleston?”
“Oh, yes it is.” Was my voice breathy sounding, or was it my imagination?
Preston was wearing jeans that rode low on his hips. They were tight and he had a superior set of buns. What would I pay to see those babies?
“Ava? What do you think?” someone asked.
“Buns!” I blurted out.
“Excuse me?” Caroline, my sister-in-law, asked.
Holy Toledo, did I just say buns out loud? What the hell Ava!!!
“Fun! Anything sounds fun!” I quickly said.
“Ava, you look a little flushed. Are you sure you’re feeling okay?”
“Hot! I mean no, I’m fine.” I looked across the room and my face totally flamed. Everyone was staring at me. I had unbuttoned my blouse and was fanning myself. I’d noticed that Preston had a gloriously hot tattoo of a sideways cross on his arm. I think I needed to go home.
“So Avery, where are you staying?” Caroline asked.
“Oh, I’m at the Four Sexy. Seasons! I mean the Four Seasons.”
Oh dear God, I need to get my act together here.
About the Author
One day, on her way home from work as a sales manager, A. M. Hargrove, realized her life was on fast forward and if she didn’t do something soon, it would quickly be too late to write that work of fiction she had been dreaming of her whole life. So, she rolled down the passenger window of her fabulous (not) company car and tossed out her leather briefcase. Luckily, the pedestrian in the direct line of fire was a dodgeball pro and had über quick reflexes enabling him to avoid getting bashed in the head. Feeling a tad guilty about the near miss, A. M. made a speedy turn down a deserted side street before tossing her crummy, outdated piece-of-you-know-what lap top out the window. She breathed a liberating sigh of relief, picked up her cell phone and hit #4 on her speed dial.
A.M.: Boss, is that you?
Boss: Why yes, A. M., who else would be answering my phone?
A.M.: Er… right. Well, I’m calling to let you know you can pick up my luxury Ford Focus at Starbucks near the interstate.
Boss: Why ever would I want to do that?
A.M.: Because I quit!
A.M. hit the end button and speed dialed her husband.
A.M.: Hi hubs, can you pick me up at Starbucks?
Hubs: Sure… Having some car trouble?
A.M.: Not at all. I don’t have a car to have trouble with because I just quit my job.
A.M.: It’s time for a new career and I am going to be a very famous novelist.
So began A. M. Hargrove’s career as a young adult paranormal romance author of self-published ebooks. Her series, The Guardians of Vesturon, centers around a family of six siblings and is a mix of humor, mystery, suspense and of course, love. Survival and Resurrection are her first and second full length novels in the series and Beginnings is the prequel novella. Her third installment, Determinant, will be released on June 30, 2012. (It didn’t happen exactly like that, but you get the idea!)
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