Review: Fire of the Heart (Hearts of Parkerburg #3) by Havan Fellows & Lee Brazil

Craig Gilchrist is the oldest of five siblings, the captain of the Parkerburg Fire Department, and all around buddy his friends run to when they have a problem. Unfortunately, he’s keeping a secret not only from the whole town, but his family as well. Living in the shadows works for him until one fateful night when a hot stranger walks across a smoky barroom, forcing Craig to make a move that could rock the foundation of his existence…and fill the void in his heart he doesn’t realize he has.

Melrose escaped the end of a bad relationship to start over in Parkerburg. With the support of his cousin and a job waiting tables at a great restaurant, he thinks his life is finally going pretty smoothly. That’s when his path crosses that of Craig Gilchrist, local fire captain. The big, beefy firefighter is definitely not his type. So why does he suddenly star in all of Melrose’s fantasies? 

With Melrose at his side, Craig finally has the motivation to step out of the shadows and let Parkerburg see the real him…until trouble arises and the truth comes to light that perhaps he doesn’t know the real Melrose.

Lies and fears play havoc with their newly acquired relationship. Luckily, once ignited, the hearts of Parkerburg don’t burn out so easily.

The Hearts of Parkerburg stories can be read as standalones, each with a HEA…but trust me, you'll want to read about all the sweet happenings in this quaint little town.

Christmas in His Heart - Dermot & Xander's story
Heart on the Run - Chaz & Sprocket's story
Fire of the Heart – Craig & Melrose’s story

I’ve been following the Hearts of Parkerburg series from the beginning and it’s always such a warm, fuzzy place to visit. I would definitely recommend reading them in order as I don’t think they would translate well as stand-alones. It’s a small town and everyone is in everyone’s business so you get to know that characters pretty well and they make appearances throughout and it helps to have the context of all the relationships.

There were some potentially heavy themes present in Fire of the Heart and it really didn’t hit me until the story was over that, given the potential for the heavy, it wasn’t really there. I think if you go into Parkerburg knowing you are going to get the Hallmark version of small town life and love you can enjoy the books for the sweet little escape they are, but don’t expect a lot of depth or resolution on the ‘bad stuff’.

This story focuses on the town’s fire chief Craig Gilchrist and the new-to-town waiter/hopefully soon-to-be college student John Melrose, Just Melrose to everyone. Melrose has moved to Parkerburg to start a new life after finally breaking free from an abusive relationship. The ex makes an appearance and his encounter with Melrose because he wants to bring Melrose back ‘home’ leads to a white lie that snowballs out of proportion and turns into the ‘lie’ that follows Melrose throughout the story.

Craig is working on breaking out of the closet he’s been in his whole life and he’s going through a lot of inner turmoil as he worries about the backlash he assumes will be coming his way. But, at the same time, he’s falling pretty hard for Melrose and I have to say, the moments in the beginning when he was in Melrose’s presence were pretty darn cute. The nerves and awkward bumblings were pretty charming.

Craig comes out in pretty blunt ways to his friends and family, which fit his personality well, but once he made the declarations and the friend or family member accepted him with no issues, that was the end of the conversation. There were no deep discussions, no real angst and no conflict. Which, is awesome, but not super realistic. Put the Hallmark spin on it though, and s’all good.

In that same vein, Melrose was with his ex for seven years and coming from an abusive relationship of any length would leave the person who left with some kind of issues they’d have to come to terms with. Melrose didn’t seem to have them though and I chalk that up to the Hallmark Effect as well. 

Once the ‘lie’ was exposed, I appreciated the authors handling of it. It got a similar treatment as the more serious issues and if it had been made into a big deal, I would have been super irritated, but it wasn’t, it was acknowledged, fluffed along and resolved with some sharing, forgiving and smooching. It was a perfect resolution to an imperfect situation.

For some sweet escapism, visit Parkerburg. Know that you aren’t going to get a canyon’s worth of depth, but you are going to get some unique characters and swoony moments that make for a great weekend read.

For more information on Parkerburg series and Fire of the Heart, check it out on Goodreads.

**a copy of this story was provided to BMBR for an honest review**

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