Tag Team Review: The Fireman's Pole by Sue Brown

The flames of passion rise for the lord of the manor.

It’s springtime in Calminster village, but things are already heating up. Sexy firefighter Dale Maloney is new to the local station. When Dale backs the company fire engine into the village maypole, he attracts the ire—and attention—of Benedict Raleigh, the Baron Calminster.

Soon after meeting Dale, Ben breaks off his relationship with his girlfriend, and the sparks between Ben and Dale are quickly fanned into flames.

Unfortunately the passion between the two men isn’t the only blaze in the village. An arsonist’s crimes are escalating, and it’s up to Dale and his crew to stop them. Meanwhile, as they investigate, an unscrupulous business partner attempts to coerce Ben into marrying his daughter. The May Day parade is around the corner, but they have plenty of fires to put out before Ben can finally slide down the fireman’s pole.

3.25 Hearts average
Sara - 4 Hearts

I am going to jump up on a soap box for a moment… I adore the Dreamspun Desires stories as they reflect on the beginnings of my romance reading as a young girl. There is a comfort in knowing when I open one of these books, I am going to get a romance; not erotica or sex filled pages, but a romance between two men and how they fall forward toward an HEA. This series and I have had our ups and downs, but it delivers on the promise of the publisher, “Where the men are hot, the romance is rockin’, and there’s always a happily ever after!” I have said this house line reminds me of the Hallmark Movies I can’t get enough of, just with more diversity. Anyway, I think for anyone wanting to read a story in the Dreamspun line needs to be aware what the line represents before judging a book on what you thought you were getting…

*jumps down*

So, this story was fun. I am a fan of the author's work and this line fit Sue Brown’s story telling beautifully.
“The minute I laid eyes on you, I wanted to….”
“Do I really have to say this?”
“Yes, you do.”
“Dale Maloney, I wanted you to take me to bed and fuck me senseless.”
We meet Dale Maloney as he is starting a new job with a new firehouse after moving across the country to leave behind his old life. You see, Dale was dating a fellow fireman but they kept their relationship in the closet. When Dale was ready to propose, he caught his boyfriend in bed with another crew member, a female crew member. Devastated and betrayed, Dale is ready to move on but with his first call away to a cottage fire gives way to a terrible first impression of Lord Calminster and his attitude.

Benedict Raleigh, nineteenth Baron Calminster of Calminster Hall, is used to living life a certain way. He’s been raised with responsibility of being Lord of the Manor of Calminster. He also takes the lives of those who work for him seriously. When his cook’s cottage catches fire and he can’t get to her to make sure she is okay, he frets and takes his frustrations out Dale who has no clue who he is.

Granted, Ben and Dale don’t have a traditional meet cute as they more have a calamity of situations that throw them together, the men have a spark of enemies to lovers that I love. They truly aren’t enemies, they just rub one another the wrong way when they first meet but both men have an attraction and through both their POV’s we know how they feel.

I was worried when I found out Ben had a beard; a woman he’s been “dating” for a few years who is the daughter of a man he would like to merge business with. It’s bad to marry for business, but Ben has resigned the false life so that he could again do what’s right and produce heirs. I absolutely love that when Ben owns his interest in Dale, he decides to break off the relationship with Sabrina and their whole dinner conversation was fantastic. Thanks to the author for not making Sabrina out to be some vapid girl and instead makes her to be an amazing, strong and professional woman wants nothing for the best for Ben in his personal and professional life. Sabrina is pretty kick ass and I love how she remained in Ben’s corner even when her father was trying to destroy everything Ben has.
“Going out with Sabrina was lazy and convenient, but it was wrong of me to lead her along. Although I might have ended up marrying her, because I’m a coward.”
“But you’re gay.”
“I’m also someone who is expected to marry and produce heirs.”
“So what stopped you?”
“I met you.”
But back to the romance. Ben and Dale do take their time with the relationship. They acknowledge the attraction and respect one another’s boundaries; Ben wanting to keep the relationship quiet as he isn’t publicly out and Dale wanting to take things slow as he is getting over his breakup. Though Ben wants to keep things quiet at first, he does understand that Dale won’t go back in the closet and let’s just say that nothing in a small town is ever kept secret when everyone already knows your business.

These two were really sweet and the relationship was built on honesty and trust from the get go. Ben and Dale talk about their issues and share their dreams with one another. We know Ben has a fantasy of being rescued by a fireman and we know how much Dale’s mother would love to see a place like Calminster House in person. We get a small conversation about children early on with these two and I found it true to who the men were to be open about wanting kids someday, having them together and Dale commenting about the offer from his sister. I don’t think it was too soon to talk about anything when it came to their relationship or their future, even if the talks happened *gasp* before they fucked.

I adored the crew of the Calminster firehouse and the staff at Calminster Hall. It cracked me up when Dale would mention how hot Colson the butler was and when we learn about Joe, I felt for Dale wanting to hide from Colson and his hearing and yet I nodded along to the porn scenario. The small village feel of Calminster was warm and inviting. The added mystery of an arsonist was handled in a way I would expect of a small town where everyone knows one another and dealt with reasonably. That end was a bit rushed for me but I just wanted a bit more from the couple and wasn’t ready for the book to end.

The Fireman’s Pole (yes take every innuendo with that and you’d be right) was simply a light and sweet romance about two men met under non perfect conditions but found they wanted one another more than first impressions allowed. Ben and Dale were a delightful couple to get to know as they became friends, as they found dark corners, had sexy AF picnics and realized that letting go of the past allows them to live fully in the present and plan for one hell of a future together.

*side note* There is a cat on the cover and while the cat is not front and center of the book, there is a cat mentioned in the story. Ben’s dogs just take over and as a dog person, I am a-okay with that.

Lorix - 2.75 Hearts

I wanted to like this book way more than I actually liked it, unfortunately. Sue Brown's writing is usually a winner for me, but this just didn't work. I loved the premise but the execution felt too choppy and all over the place. It's like the story was written then bits cut out to fit a word count (I'm not suggesting this is what happened, but it just didn't read cohesively to me). I chose this ARC as I'm usually a fan of this author - the Dreamspun Desire series isn't my favourite though, and unfortunately liking the author didn't help me here.

My real problem was the characters, I think. They felt like caricatures and the romance didn't work. I don't mind books with aristocracy, but how everyone called him Mr Ben got on my nerves, I'm not sure why. Probably because in my heart I don't believe anyone person is better than another - we all crap the same. I don't know, the book just pee'd me off. It felt forced and didn't feel at all reflective of this author's usual works. It was a short read though and I didn't dislike it enough to DNF.

So basically I'm a grumpy sod about this book - that doesn't mean that you won't like it, however, it just means I didn't! ** shrugs**

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