Title: Smoldering Flame (Rekindled Flame #3)
Author: Andrew Grey and Michael Pauley (Narrator)
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press LLC
Release Date: March 28th 2018
Genre(s): M/M Contemporary Romance
Length: 6 hrs and 3 mins
Reviewed by: Lily G. Blunt
Heat Level: 3 flames out of 5
Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
Sometimes the strongest flames take the longest to ignite.
Firefighter Dean’s life revolves around his very ill son, Sammy. Caring for Sammy and working to make ends meet leave Dean time for little else, and romance isn’t something he can even consider—no matter how much he longs for someone special to join their family. Because money is tight, Dean couldn’t be more grateful to the photographer who does Sammy’s session free of charge.
After growing up in the foster care system, Marco knows how to rely on himself, and his hard work is about to pay off—he’s poised on the cusp of fame and success he could only have imagined as a lonely child. When Dean brings Sammy into Marco’s studio, Marco can see they’re struggling, and both the boy and his father stir Marco’s heart. The slow burn between the two men isn’t something either expected, but neither wants to lose the possibility of a loving future. With Dean’s dangerous and possibly life-threatening career and Marco’s demanding one, can romance and forever find a place to fit?
This story is my favourite in the series by a long way. The first two stories, although well-crafted, were nowhere near as uplifting as Dean, Sammy, and Marco’s delightful tale. This one certainly tugged on my heartstrings in many ways.
All three ‘guys’ are realistic and likeable characters, and their background stories are touching. Both Marco and Dean are in need of a partner and Sammy seems to bring them together. I’m not usually a fan of children in gay romances, but Sammy comes across as a sweet boy and because his scenes are endearing you excuse his cock-blocking! This is a story of building a lasting, loving relationship and becoming a family. It’s more of a smoldering romance than one of passionate sex, although the few on-page intimate moments are well worth waiting for. Of course, there are a few hiccups and a little angst with regard to the risks Dean takes as a fireman. Marco also has a few scary moments of his own. I liked the balance between romance and action here. I loved the ending and epilogue. Just wonderful.
Characters from books 1 and 2 make an appearance, but it’s not important to know their backstory or relevance. This story can easily be read as a standalone.
Both 1 and 2 Rekindled Flame and Cleansing Flame feature a fireman and a man they rescue with a physical disability. Although I enjoyed these stories overall and they ended happily, there were times when the stories had a depressing quality to them, and the inner dialogue and reactions dragged me down at times. In contrast, Smoldering Flame is warming and touching, despite the references to illness, abandonment, and Dean’s bigoted father. All these issues are overcome successfully in the story.
Michael Pauley narrated all three stories, which is a big plus for me. I prefer the same narrator for a series even though different main characters are involved. He tells the stories with enthusiasm, imparting the right emotions for each scene. Michael created distinctive voices for the characters. His voice for Sammy matched that of a child and he produced believable female voices too. Good job!