Playing with Fire by Kate Meader

Playing with Fire by Kate MeaderPlaying with Fire by Kate Meader
Series: Hot in Chicago, #2
Published by Pocket Books on September 29th 2015
Pages: 384
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As the only female firefighter at Engine Co. 6, Alexandra Dempsey gets it from all sides: the male coworkers who think she can’t do the job, the wives and girlfriends who see her as a threat to their firefighter men, and her overprotective foster brothers who want to shelter their baby sister at all costs. So when she single-handedly saves the life of Eli Cooper, Chicago’s devastatingly handsome mayor, she assumes the respect she’s longed for will finally come her way. But it seems Mr. Mayor has other ideas…
Eli Cooper’s mayoral ratings are plummeting, his chances at reelection dead in the water. When a sexy, curvaceous firefighter gives him the kiss of life, she does more than bring him back to the land of the living—she also breathes vitality into his campaign. Riding the wave of their feel-good story might prop up Eli’s flagging political fortunes, but the sizzling attraction between them can go nowhere; he’s her boss, and there are rules that must be obeyed. But you know what they say about rules: they’re made to be broken…

Women always need to fight – tooth and nail – for the things men take for granted in men-centred occupations…that much is the creed that Alexandra Dempsey lives by. That principle holds especially when she butts heads with Eli Cooper, who rubs her exactly the wrong way when he suggests that women have no place in men’s work. She hates the man, but wants him and is perfectly content for this weird antagonistic, tension-filled relationship to remain that way until Eli Cooper proposes a beneficial move that will keep her family out of trouble while boosting his mayoral bid.

Thus begins a ‘fake relationship’ but both Alex and Eli soon find themselves facing towering obstacles as well as their own issues that threaten to topple this fledging and fragile connection they’ve forged. There’s a lot of chaos written into the story beyond the drama – greatly contributed to by the rest of the noisy Dempseys – and I can’t help but think that this book, like the first, continues its loving tribute to families and the (sometimes overprotective) support they generate for wayward members.

Kate Meader’s unusual writing and punchy style is the winner here, bursting with the unapologetic, confidence feel of chick lit writing, punctuated by healthy doses of humour in unexpected places. But I think ‘Playing with Fire’ should actually be called ‘Playing with the Shrew’, because that hate-love relationship never did seem to progress any much more than 1 step forward and 2 steps back. Alex’s determined self-righteous attitude towards…every small thing was beyond grating and the tendency to victimise herself wasn’t the lot I felt I could throw behind this particular heroine – to the point where I felt that Eli, despite having his own agenda and a bucketload of idiocy, was still the more truthful (and that’s saying a lot!) of the both of them. I wasn’t too sure about the combativeness that still remained by the end of the book, but Ms. Meader sure understands her readers’ need for an unquestioning HEA.