In brief: Travis is back in town after the death of the man who was like a father to him. Ready to sell the property he inherited and get out of town, he’s thwarted by a sassy Aussie girl called Billie and rumours of a murder… (second in the Deacons of Bourbon Street series)
The good: It’s different and doesn’t pull any punches.
The not-so-good: Travis is a bad boy at times – grandmother alert for the swearing and his past misdeeds (although she’ll love him by the end).
Why I chose it: Thank you to Loveswept for the eARC.
Pages: 190 (eARC)
Publisher: Loveswept (Random House)
Setting: New Orleans, USA
My rating: 8.5 out of 10
I really enjoy Rachael Johns’ books, I’d read anything she wrote. (I think I start off my review of all her books in this way, but it’s true!) I’ve loved her Aussie rural romance fiction reads and Montana set stories. Fire Me Up represents a new direction for her heroes, that of the super bad boy. Our hero is Travis, aka Cash, ex-member of the Deacons of Bourbon Street motorcycle gang. He’s gone straight, but Travis still has the essence of a bad boy. He’s got serious ink. He swears so much I predict grannies will be running for the soap. He’s got a very murky past. Can he turn into a hero that we love? And more importantly, will he be worthy of our damaged but sassy Aussie heroine, Billie?
I’ve got to admit that I was a bit shocked by the opening scenes of the book and Travis. I wasn’t sure whether I was going to warm to him or not. I’m no prude, but he swears a lot. So much so I was thinking if Fire Me Up would be safe for the more elderly Rachael Johns fans I know! But after the initial shock, I became fascinated. I don’t think I’ve ever read a story involving a motorcycle gang, let alone a romance! Travis (being a man with a history) gives lots of opportunities for his past and present to collide. While the story is mainly about his romance with Billie, there’s an overarching storyline (which I presume will continue over the four book series – this is the second book) about avenging the death of Priest. Priest was the father Travis never had, and the leader of the Deacons. What was thought to be straightforward turns into a question of murder. Reluctantly, the four members come back to New Orleans to gain their inheritance, but also get their revenge.
Travis’ inheritance was part of the Deacons’ clubhouse. Since he’s gone straight, he hasn’t been anywhere near NOLA. He certainly didn’t expect the place to turn into an art gallery! It’s there that he turns his surprise and anger on Billie, who runs the gallery. Billie’s a proud West Australian (yeah!), who is nursing her own hurt from a divorce. She’s got a spine of steel though and she isn’t taking Travis’ crap lying down. She’s a great heroine for Travis, she gives as good as she gets and then some. The perfect foil, as she works in a completely different way – straight as a die and she expects Travis to be the same. Just because Billie’s been hurt doesn’t mean that she can’t be sweet and positive, which is the complete opposite to Travis.
The heat-o-meter for Fire Me Up is as you would expect from the name, scorching. These two just sizzle together. But what I also liked was the meeting of the minds – Travis and Billie are just as well matched in that department. Where Travis is stubborn and hot headed, Billie is calm and able to see the big picture. Billie is possibly a little over sentimental, but Travis brings her back down to earth. The plot was also great – I think you could read this as a standalone, as there is closure for Billie and Travis – but there are enough hints of things to come to make you want to find out what really happened to Priest. Plus, I loved the insights into life on Bourbon Street (those beignets! I’m going to have to try making them) and Billie’s sideline as a ghost tour host. It’s those little touches that made the book sparkle for me. I love it when a book has me thinking and researching more into places I don’t know much about).
I think Fire Me Up has proven that bad boys are a damn good read – thanks for convincing me Rachael!