Erryn reviews ‘Fired Up (Fever Falls Book 1)’ by N.R. Walker. The book was self-published on January 2019 and is 232 pages. The audiobook was released February 4, 2019, is 7 hrs and 58 mins, and is narrated by Michael Pauley.
Why Erryn read: Riley Hart and Michael Pauley? What’s not to love?
If there’s one thing I know, it’s how to play the game…both on and off the field. If it hadn’t been for that one teenage slipup where I kissed Beau Campbell, I’d be able to keep fooling myself. Football is the one thing I use to distract myself from the truth, and when I screw-up and lose the game I love, I find myself right back in Fever Falls. And right back face-to-face with Cranky Campbell, who hates me even more than he did when we were kids. Whatever magic he held over me then is still there. As much as I fight it, I still want him. And I always get what I want…well, except with Beau, who constantly calls me on my crap. Why do I like that so much?
I might’ve spent years watching Ash live out my dream – without the off-field antics and orgies with women, at least – but I’ve made a good life for myself. I’m a firefighter, and I coach my brother’s football team for those with developmental disabilities. But when Ash swings back into town armed with his monster ego and an arsenal of stupid nicknames, everyone is in awe of him. Nope, not me. I don’t care if our kiss years ago was responsible for my sexual awakening. I won’t fall for Ashton Carmichael. Though that resolution would be a whole lot easier if he wasn’t so tempting. Once he finds his way into my bed, I’m screwed – in more ways than one. But there’s more to Ash than meets the eye, buried beneath his ego, sarcasm and how we burn up the sheets together. Soon, it’s more than a game. We don’t just get each other fired up, we just might win each other’s hearts.
Too bad things are never that simple….
***Check out the giveaway at the bottom of this review for a chance to win one of several prizes***
Cocky Carmichael and Cranky Campbell
It all started with a kiss. An epic kiss for Beau and apparently a mistake for Ashton. Then it’s ten years before the men meet up again.
I adore Riley Hart’s books but haven’t listened to one for a while. This one was a very slow burn and it took a while for the two men to really connect. Beau has spent the past ten years envying Ashton and his professional football career. He chose to stay in Fever Falls because he put family ahead of ambition and he has no regrets. Doesn’t mean he doesn’t ask himself ‘what if’ questions every once in a while, or sit in judgement of the hash Ashton has made of his life. Orgies and sexcapades? Beau is disgusted, and rightly so.
Ashton has returned to Fever Falls with his head bowed in shame. He knows he’s blown his career – one that hit great heights – and now scandal has driven him to the safest place he knows. The place where he can just be Ash, not Ashton Carmichael the superstar quarterback. Upon his arrival home, he discovers Fever Falls has grown by leaps and bounds and, interestingly, has so Fever Street where there are a number of gay-friendly businesses. It’s a visit to one of these bars that lands him right at Beau’s table. Beau is out-and-proud, not hiding his sexuality and he’d been lucky to have been accepted by both his family and his work colleagues. He’s also a proud firefighter – a job he fell into by happenstance, but has made a name for himself. When Ash shows up, he’s still feeling resentment for their past encounters. Ashton doesn’t understand the antipathy and falls into the old habit of calling Beau ‘Cranky Campbell’.
Ash is in need of friends and Beau is still the friendly guy from high school. They embark into an uneasy friendship where Ash is in awe of Beau’s ability to be out. Eventually Ash reveals his true nature – and sexuality – and the men begin a new journey fraught with pitfalls. How can an out-and-proud gay man survive in a relationship where his partner is in the closet? How can a professional football player who still secretly hopes to make a comeback come out when there’s no one out in the entire league? This is often a problem that professional athletes – men and women – face all the time. They know they’ll be treated differently – scrutinized in a way that has nothing to do with their athletic prowess and everything to do with speculation about their sex lives. It’s still that way in so many professions. The fact we have the first openly gay man running for president is a relief and I hope he’s viewed for his experience as a politician before the fact he’s married to a man.
Progress is often incremental.
By the time Ash and Beau were a true couple, I was rooting for them all the way. It is a Riley Hart book, so they do get their happy ending – but there might have been some doubt thrown in for good measure.
I want to take a moment to talk about Beau’s family. His dedication to his single mother and his younger brother Kenny is heart-warming. He’s protective of Kenny – as any big brother would be – but he also treats his brother like the man he is, rather than letting Kenny’s developmental disability define him. I love Kenny and have high hopes for him. Since this book is part of a series, I’m hoping Kenny might pop back in at some point. And Ash as well as Beau.
Finally, Michael Pauley. It’s hard to choose the correct superlative to describe his performance of this book. I always adore his work, but this time he went above and beyond. Tackling unique characters is always a challenge, but I think he portrayed Kenny brilliantly. I felt it was an honest performance without relying on stereotypes. Again, he delivered the perfect note for the entire book.
I’m looking forward to the next book in the series, written by Devon McCormack. Well done, Ms. Hart.
10/10 Pots of Gold (100% Recommended) – Compares to 5/5 Stars
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Riley Hart is the girl who wears her heart on her sleeve. She’s a hopeless romantic. A lover of sexy stories, passionate men, and writing about all the trouble they can get into together. If she’s not writing, you’ll probably find her reading.
Riley lives in North Carolina with her awesome family, who she is thankful for everyday.