All Fired Up by Vivian Arend and Elle Kennedy

allfiredupWhy I read it:  I enjoy books by both authors and the premise sounded fun, so I bought it.

What it’s about: (from Goodreads)  He’s ready to lead the way

Parker Wilson never thought he’d go from battle-hardened soldier to romance expert, but after his stint in the Rangers, that’s exactly what happened. As the owner of DreamMakers Inc., he helps other men win in the love department, using every resource available to plan the perfect date. When a routine recon turns into an unexpected night of passion, Parker’s mission becomes more personal—and he won’t give up until Lynn Davidson is all his.

She’s more than willing to follow

Lynn is a goner from the moment she lays eyes on the delectable Parker. She’s just ditched her boring almost-boyfriend and is tired of sticking to the straight and narrow. It’s time to walk on the wild side, and what better way than in the arms of the most irresistible man she’s ever met? But when their red-hot affair is threatened, it’ll take a team effort to make their dreams come true.

What worked for me (and what didn’t):  I’d read a couple of heavy-ish books immediately before this one and both had been less than successful for me, albeit for different reasons.  I wanted something light and frothy.  Something fun where I didn’t have to think too much, to be a kind of palate cleanser.

All Fired Up was actually just what I was looking for.  The premise is a little over the top – three ex-Army Rangers open a business “DreamMakers” which organises dream dates for the clueless (largely male) in the San Francisco area.  They’re not a dating agency or a matchmaking service – but if a dude forgets his anniversary and needs to make it up to his upset wife, DreamMakers is the go to place to get help.  Exactly why Parker, Jack and Dean chose this particular business was never very clear to me.  That there was a need didn’t quite cut it.  However, what I was really wanting to read about was the romance between Parker and Lynn and the book was a lot of fun when this was the focus.

There is a suspense subplot which didn’t make loads of sense and was a little over the top but this suited my reading mood too – I didn’t want anything heavy and something a little ridiculous was just fine by me.

This is a self published book and the formatting was very good and clean. There were a couple of typos but otherwise I was pleased with the quality.

Vivian Arend (Six Pack Ranch) and Elle Kennedy (Out of Uniform) have form writing charming men who regularly talk women out of their clothes.  They also like to write about threesomes so I ought not to have been surprised to find that Parker, Jack and Dean have all had threesomes – any two of them plus a woman (no crossing of the streams!) and that Parker’s first encounter with Lynn also includes Dean.  The sex was hot and all very positively portrayed. I liked that Lynn’s best friend, Suzanne is basically a female Dean and no shame was given to her, either by the narrative, Lynn or any of the men in the book.  These are people who enjoy sex and as long as the people are consenting adults, it’s all good.  It was refreshing to read.

The story had some similarity in structure to the O’Kane stories by Kit Rocha in that there are POV sections from people other than the main two characters.  It wasn’t always clear to me why they were there, but I can’t say I particularly minded them.

I liked the camaraderie of the boys and their banter and likewise with Lynn and Suz and there were parts that made me laugh out loud and even read a little to my husband because I just had to share.

“You know what?” Dean’s gaze lingered on the doorway before focusing on Parker. “I think we should pass on the gig. All jokes aside, I’ve got a bad feeling about this guy.”

“Ditto. But let’s wait and see what he writes on the questionnaire. It might end up being an easy job.”

“Well, we’re charging him double regardless. He deserves to pay the asshole fee.”

“Duh. I told Didi to prepare the asshole forms the second I spotted the Armani suit.”

And, the part where they were discussing Phil’s questionnaire answers and dreaming up a possible date for him was hilarious.

The conflict is essentially that when Parker and Lynn first meet, it is because he is doing “recon” to find out about her likes and dislikes because Phil is SO clueless he is unable to give the team any idea of what might be her dream date.  Parker is instantly attracted but Lynn is strictly off limits while Phil is a client.  Once Lynn dumps Phil’s ass however, all bets are off and Parker makes his move.  On advice from his buddies, he decides to wait until Lynn gets to know him better before confessing the true story behind how they first met and, of course, as is so often the case with this kind of storyline, he puts it off for too long.  That said, it wasn’t a big deal for me.  He never lied to her and DreamMakers’ recon, even though it did involve tailing her for a couple of days, never crossed the line into truly stalkerish type behaviour – there was no bugging her phones or anything horrible. Mostly they observed and eavesdropped a little to pick up clues as to what she liked.  It’s a believable conflict but not a high stakes one.  The story isn’t hugely long so I didn’t have time to get annoyed at Parker for not confessing earlier, which I may have done in a longer book.  I did enjoy the dates they went on and how they got to know each other.  I like how he paid attention to Lynn and how they genuinely enjoyed each other’s company in and out of bed (and cars and other places).

It was a good fun story, light and frothy but also sexy.  If you don’t mind a little of the ridiculous, this might be what the doctor ordered. It was for me.

“We get razzed about this all the time. We know our stuff, or research if we have to,” Parker admitted, “but don’t go around telling people we’re some kind of softies.” He gave her a wink. “We’re manly men, Lynn.”

“Hey, if people think you’re softies, that’s only good for business,” she protested. “Right?”

“Good point. Okay, fine. You can tell potential clients we’re into all the romance stuff. But potential lovers? Well, they need to know we’re half and half—fifty percent romantic, fifty percent tough guy.”

“Yep,” Dean agreed. “We’re the guys who’ll write you a love letter, all right—then we’ll fuck you senseless while you read it.”

Grade: B-



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