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Taking the Heat (Berkley Sensation) by…
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Taking the Heat (Berkley Sensation)

by Kathryn Shay

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Reviewed for queuemyreview.com

This is a very difficult review to write. “Taking the Heat” by Kathryn Shay was a heart-wrenching read. Shay has written a very gritty and powerful book about the difficulties people face every day when they are involved in relationships with our heroes: public officials, law enforcement, military, and firefighters. I almost hesitate to call it a romance, though it certainly does tell the story of two people coming together. But this is a view of the harsher side of the story, more realistic if you like. If you’re looking for hearts and flowers and a light read, this is definitely not the book for you.

There are so many emotions felt and portrayed in this tale. The fear felt by those who are left behind at home when our heroes are out risking their lives to fight a fire, protect a life, or defend our country. The exhaustion of being a single parent while they are gone, the resentment caused by missed holidays, birthdays, and anniversaries, the dread of waiting for news when they are missing, the terror of late night phone calls and the agony of hospital waiting rooms when they are hurt. How can a relationship survive in these situations…especially when they occur over and over again? The sad fact is that the majority don’t. These professions have always had some of the highest divorce rates and that isn’t likely to change. It truly takes a very special kind of individual to be a hero, and one just as special to stay married to one. I’ve read a lot of romance over the years, and rarely have I seen these issues addressed as realistically as in this book.

I haven’t read Shay’s earlier novels about the O’Neil family and it isn’t necessary to do so to follow this story. Liam O’Neil is the quiet one. He married his high school sweetheart, had two sons, and worked in the family business. Three years ago, his wife died of ovarian cancer and he and his sons were devastated. His youngest, Mike, is still having difficulties adjusting and is undergoing therapy for depression.

Sophie is a firefighter. She and her brother were saved by firemen from a house fire that killed her mother and then virtually adopted by the firehouse crew where she now works. Her whole life revolves around her job and she doesn’t think she could ever do anything else. She’s had to fight hard both physically and mentally to be successful in such a male dominated profession that still harbors a few hardcore anti-women oppositionists.

The story follows these two who at first fight their attraction for each other. Liam and his sons need security and Sophie’s job certainly won’t provide that. The ups and downs of this relationship and the relationships of Liam’s brothers are stormy to say the least. One of his brothers is engaged to a Secret Service agent, his sister if married to the vice-president of the United States, and Sophie’s brother is currently serving in Iraq. Each of these situations causes difficulties for Liam and Sophie. Their relationship is on-again, off-again throughout most of the book because of this.

Did I enjoy this book? I don’t know if I can say enjoy is the right word. It sucked me in and I was riveted. I felt for each of the players as they struggled with all the uncertainties associated with falling and staying in love and the additional burdens of the lives of our heroes. As a military veteran who was and still is married to another veteran, this book hit a little too close to home for me. It reminded me of long separations, missed events, and constant worries. If you aren’t familiar with these things…you should bless whatever higher power you serve that you haven’t had to deal with them. If you are familiar with these things, this story may be a little too realistic for you. On the other hand, it may give you hope and courage to continue and hang on when things get tough. Either way, it’s a powerful story. “Taking the Heat” is a good title for Kathryn Shay’s novel. It has the heat of passion, the heat of the fires Sophie fights, and the heat that every relationship faces when the hard times come. Powerful and moving and just a little too true to life for me. ( )
  jjmachshev | Jun 14, 2008 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0425222004, Mass Market Paperback)

Three years ago Liam O'Neil's wife Kitty died leaving him to raise their young sons by himself, though he gets help from his caring beloved family. In New York he meets firefighter Sophie Tyler at his family owned Bailey's Irish Pub, and to his amazement and shock he is attracted to the beautiful strawberry blonde. Sophie reciprocates his allure.
However, with 9/11 still fresh after another anniversary, Liam fears dating Sophie because he rationalizes his sons could not cope with her dangerous occupation if something tragic should happen to her. Sophie has her own 9/11 memory that interferes with her seeing any man. Yet they begin seeing each other until a deadly serial arsonist sets booby-trapped fires to kill firefighters; Liam and Sophie begin to reconsider their relationship.
This is an enjoyable second chance at love romantic suspense thriller. The story line is action-packed in terms of the arsonist subplot and filled with angst re the relationship between Liam and Sophie. Although Taking the Heat stands alone, with the O'Neil family playing major roles, reading the previous tales (see Close to You and Someone to Believe In) enhances the experience. Once again Kathryn Shay pays homage to the brave firefighters. Harriet Klausner
“Shay writes an emotion-packed story that presents a realistic view of the romantic and social problems faced by female firefighters. With angst and some hot sex, this dramatic tale also has a nice touch of humor. It will be more enjoyable if one is already familiar with Shay's previous stories, and it's not a story that's an escape from reality.” RT Book Reviews
“Taking the Heat is an emotional roller coaster ride that hits so many real life issues facing career women in today's world. As each O'Neil book comes out, I find myself drawn more and more into their world. I'll be waiting very impatiently for the last two brothers' books.” Joyfully Reviewed
Amazon Customers
“I enjoyed the milieu of a fire department---it was great to experience something all-new and interesting there. It was also fascinating having the difficulties of spouses dealing with a loved one's dangerous job brought to the page.”
“Taking The Heat is another exceptional story of the O'Neil family. Sophie and Liam's journey isn't an easy one but it’s real, heartfelt and deeply moving. Kathryn Shay's characters feel like friends you want to get to know. I am looking forward to the next book in this series.”

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:18:44 -0400)

Unable to deny his attraction to firefighter Sophie Tyler, who has just taken a part-time job at his family's pub, widower Liam O'Neil must decide whether or not to put his heart on the line.

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