BLOG REVIEW: A Flood of Sweet Fire by Sandra Marton

22y.o personal secretary is used to the simple Iowa farm lifestyle she was raised in.
Therefore, the request of her infamous celebrity heiress employer and now friend of the last 4 months
to switch identities on the airplane trip to Italy was something she wasn't comfortable with 
but did anyway to help her boss-friend's love life. As thankful as she was to be saved from a near abduction at the Italian airport by the new chauffeur of her boss-friend's family, she's bewildered by 34y.o. Hero's cold dislike towards her
as well as their long drive through Italy, away from her boss-friend's family estate.
It dawns on her that he's abducting her & her resistances are futile.
Including her resistance to her attraction towards him, especially during moments when he seems protective and caring towards her.
 When she finds out what his relationship is with her boss-friend's father,
matters become clearer but also get more complicated. Now she has even more reason to keep her real identity from him. When they eventually become intimate,
she believed he reciprocated her feelings for him and was about to confess all. But his sudden disinterest in her and harsh threats the morning after
brings their new romance to a complete halt. What made him change towards her? Will his knowing about her involvement in his deceit end things for them forever?

I've read quite a few Marton books & I have to say that this book was different than her usual. First, it had a strong romantic-suspense element to it.  It was a clever idea and certainly unique for an HP(Harlequin Presents) but it wasn't suspenseful enough. Not that it was predictable because the suspense part surprised me at some points. But the writing didn't give me that fast-paced or heart-pounding feel in my reading that good romantic suspense books do for me. This was another part of what made it a different Marton book for me. The humor, lively characterization, and touching romance didn't progress well in this book. Basically, those factors were there in the first 40% of the book but didn't develop towards a slam-dunk finish. Once we found out what Hero's motive was for keeping her from her boss-friend's father, the excitement the book seemed to promised died down. Interestingly, this situation also heralded a major turn in the book's plot. It was another clever technique by Marton but it didn't capture my interest that much. 

What also made this book different than the Marton books I've enjoyed was that I didn't really care much for the characters. I liked the heroine for her simple lifestyle, caring attitude, and overall conscientiousness. What I didn't like was her passivity when she had plenty of opportunity to act on what she knew was the right thing to do. Which was basically to fess up to Hero about her involvement in the deception scheme.

     ---------SPOILERS: Don't read below if you don't want to know the book's details-----------------

Heroine kept her real identity a secret  from Hero for 2 reasons:
1. she thought he was part of a kidnapping ring designed to go against her boss-friend's father and she didn't want to endanger her life and her boss-friend's life if Hero found out about their identity switch
2. even after she knew Hero was hired as her boss-friend to be her bodyguard, she was told to keep her identity from Hero by her boss-friend and her father to give her boss-friend more privacy from the paparrazzi. Her boss-friend's father feared that giving her daughter privacy for a few more days wasn't something Hero would agree to and he might pull out of his bodyguard job. 

I thought reason #2 was a weak plot device created to give heroine more time with Hero and add a twist to the book. It only made her look pathetic.

     -----------------------------------------------------END SPOILERS------------------------------------------------

Her reasons for continuing to lie to Hero were not strong enough to make me side with her deception.  Her passivity chipped away at the characteristics I liked about her. Her conscientiousness was being taken over by her dishonesty. Her caring attitude by her selfish desire to get closer to Hero, even when it meant hurting him and betraying his trust. And her simplicity by her continued pretense at being somebody else and having to cover her lies up with more lies. I didn't dislike heroine overall. I just didn't like her as much as the book progressed.

Hero was the typical cold and controlled gun-carrying alpha male of romantic suspense books. What made him more of a '80s HP hero instead of a romantic-suspense hero was how unprofessionally rough he was towards heroine from the get go.  Even if he didn't like her due to the things he heard about what the shenanigans her boss-friend had done, he treated her very poorly as the hired bodyguard. And there was no reason to since heroine hadn't done anything around him to warrant his poor treatment of her. He pretty much lugged her around in the car, to the farmhouse, etc. I still don't understand why he made her and himself strip to their underwear that first day they met. Maybe a power play to show he was the boss. And he did this a lot in the book. He demanded and asserted himself towards her. He wasn't all bad. He showed his sweet and caring side, especially after she found out that he was the hired security detail and not her kidnapper. But he'd reverted back to his rough and demanding ways. And heroine would relent, making her look like a doormat. 

I somewhat recommend this book.

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