cover image Fake Flame

Fake Flame

Adele Buck. Afterglow, $12.99 trade paper (288p) ISBN 978-1-335-04161-6

Buck (Fast Acting) brings the heat in this scorching rom-com. After professor Eva Campbell’s ex, Darren, stages a ridiculous romantic gesture at her place of work to try to get her back, Eva snaps and tries to fend him off with an improvised flamethrower created from the combination of a cigarette lighter and a can of bug spray—and the fire department is called. Hunky firefighter Sean Hannigan, 36, is immediately attracted to Eva, 41, and when Darren tries to intimidate Eva in her office, Sean commits to being her fake boyfriend to keep him at bay. What starts as just pretend quickly becomes all too real and Buck makes it easy to see how perfect these two are for each other. Swoony Sean is an avid reader who isn’t ashamed to love a romance novel, which endears Eva—a professor of literature and pop culture—to him immediately. When Eva witnesses him interacting with his numerous nieces and nephews, she realizes he’d be a great dad, but worries it’s too late for her to give him that. The result is a refreshingly grounded conflict that Buck handles with a great deal of sensitivity. The steamy sex scenes are just a bonus. Readers will have no trouble rooting for the chivalrous firefighter and the plucky professor to get their happily ever after. (Apr.)