Saturday, August 13, 2011

Fully Involved by Erin Dutton

Publisher:               Bold Strokes Books

Reid Webb and Jimmy Grant had been friends since they were children. Where you saw one, you saw the other. It was only natural that they would decide together to become firefighters and that they would end up in the same station. They depended on each other for everything and their families formed one extended family.

When Jimmy's wife died in an accident, Reid and her mother stepped in to help raise Jimmy's young son, Chase. What they didn't count on was Jimmy dying in a fire under circumstances that leave Reid believing she caused his death. Now she knows she has to help provide stability in Chase's life and that means dealing with his Aunt Isabel, who arrives to be Chase's guardian. Reid fell in love with her when they were much younger, but she thought Isabel was straight and she was Jimmy's sister, so definitely forbidden territory.

Isabel has her own feelings about Reid. When they were children she resented the relationship Jimmy had with Reid and not with her. Now, she blames Reid for her brother's death, not so much for the accident, but because she drew him into the life of firefighting. What they have in common is a love for Chase and the determination they both have to give him the best life possible now.

As the two women struggle with their grief and anger, they realize they have to work together and then that an attraction is growing between them. There are a lot of issues that have to be resolved before they can decide if they want to be "fully involved," maybe too many issues.

Erin Dutton does an exceptional job of creating the personalities of her players. Reid Webb is a strong character – brave, stoic, guilt ridden. She has the patience to deal with a small child and his hurt, but not with the woman she loves. Isabel is a study in contradictions, one moment admiring Reid for the courage she shows and how she seems to instinctively understand Chase, and the next hating her for what happened to Jimmy. Chase struggles to be the "man" he knows his father would want him to be while trying to understand how one little fellow could have so many bad things happen to him.

The strength of the characters' emotions pour from the page and will catch the reader up in the story. This is not a sad book, but there are certainly parts that will cause tears to rise. Yet, it is also a story of hope, of how people can put their lives back together after great tragedy and how the definition of "family" needs to be revised for the world today.

This is one of the better books out there to read. It's also worth mentioning that this book has an excellent  cover. It totally evokes the spirit of the book.

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