Bernard excels at creating complicated, wounded characters who still retain their sense of humor, and her latest entry in the Bachelor Fireman series — a short but satisfying novella — is no exception. The immediate chemistry and whip smart repartee between Fire Captain Jeb Stone and driven press secretary Nita Moreno is everything Bernard fans have come to expect. Both leads have baggage with a capital “B” from previous relationships, and the romance happens fast, but Bernard’s deft hand at characterization and dialogue make it believable. As with any novella, readers may wish for more time with both leads, but the tale still manages to pack an impressive number of belly laughs along with a sweet, sexy romance.

No one warned Nita Moreno that covering up for her cross-dressing boss would be part of her job as a press secretary for a California state senator. But when racy photos reveal the senator’s love for ladies’ lingerie, Nita ends up hiding out on an island off the California coast, trying to reboot her boss’s career with an exclusive interview with Nita’s friend, TV reporter Melissa McGuire. But when Melissa arrives, she’s nine-months pregnant and trailed by a reluctant body guard, Fire Captain Jeb Stone. Nita would rather avoid Jeb — a brief flirtation at Melissa’s wedding ended abruptly when she learned the sexy fireman was actually married. But now both Nita and Jeb are single, though reeling from the end of their relationships. There’s nothing in the way of the chemistry sizzling between them — except a snotty senator, a plague of reporters, a woman in labor and a storm that leaves them stranded on the tiny island. (AVONROMANCE.COM, Jan., 100 pp., $1.99)

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Reviewed by: 
Audrey Goodson Kingo