Review: Can't Take the Heat by Jackie Barbosa

Can't Take the Heat - Jackie Barbosa

Three years after he and Delaney broke up because of her decision to become a firefighter, Wes gets the call he'd always known would come: Delaney has been seriously injured. When she comes to with no memory of the past three years, Wes is easily persuaded by her neurologist to pretend that they're still together, since he's never gotten over her. But of course their reunion is on borrowed time.

This novella isn't quite what you'd expect from the blurb. It is a second-chance romance with an amnesia plot, but unlike typical amnesia stories, Delaney figures out fairly quickly that things aren't as she remembers them, and she doesn't blame Wes for his deception. (I was amused by what tipped her off -- the disorganized state of the closet when Wes rehung all her clothes in it. This would be my husband's undoing as well.) The emotion of the story doesn't come from a feeling of betrayal, but from both Delaney and Wes's knowledge that when she recovers her memory, they'll face the same conflict that drove them apart before.

Although the premise isn't entirely plausible, the story overall has a mature, down-to-earth quality that I appreciated.  It's told in alternating viewpoints: third person past tense for Wes's point-of-view and first person present for Delaney's. I particularly liked Delaney's voice, which had a quiet emotionalism that suited her confusion and grief. Her job's importance to her is well established, so the conflict feels real, though it's wrapped up quickly. There's also a fair bit of time spent on set-up for future stories in the series, which made me wish this one had been longer -- Wes and Delaney move kind of quickly into some raunchy sex and I could have used a slower build-up to it.

I'd recommend this for readers who enjoy more realistic contemporary that avoids fluffy romance cliches.

(reviewed from e-arc provided by NetGalley)