I picked up Friendly Fire (2016) by Marliss Melton because I was craving a story, however unrealistic, about a superman-like, gorgeous guy who could make the world safe and good again. I’ve read a number of Melton’s book in the past and usually enjoyed them. I didn’t dislike Friendly Fire, but I didn’t love it either. It felt like there was very little actual romance in this one, and I didn’t connect to it.
Jeremiah “Bullfrog” Winters ends up joining his Seal teammate Tristan on a cruise to Mexico after Tristan’s girlfriend/fiance dumps him. On the ship, he runs into Emma Albright, his old literature professor whom he’d fallen in love with in college. There had been something special between the two, and when Emma asked Jeremiah to stay away from her because she was married and had a child and couldn’t stand the temptation, Jeremiah dropped out of college and became a Seal. Emma is on the cruise with her sister, Juliet, and her eleven-year-old daughter, Sammy.
Jeremiah and Emma still have that spark and Emma’s lack of husband makes the possibility of romance suddenly much more realistic. The main problem now is that Emma is a little gun shy and wary of love after being dumped by her husband. To complicate matters, Jeremiah has some sort of ESP, and he’s been having visions of death and destruction. He thinks there’s a plot for violence on the ship, and he does what he can to prepare and protect Emma and her family. At the same time, Juliet and Tristan hit it off and begin to spend a lot of time together.
On a shore excursion to some ancient ruins in Mexico, Emma, Sammy and Jeremiah, along with other cruise ship tourists, are kidnapped and held for ransom. Jeremiah does what he can with his limited power to keep everyone as safe as possible.
There was nothing that I hated in this book, but there was a lot that kept me from getting too into this story. First, I wasn’t a huge fan of the ESP story line. I realize that we needed the knowledge that something bad was going to happen or the first half of the book would be really boring, but it just seemed weird. Second, there wasn’t a lot of relationship building. Emma and Jeremiah had already met and fallen in love before the book started. For the most part, I just had to accept that they loved each other without much evidence. They spent very little time alone, and their first (only?) sex scene felt ridiculous to me. I was thinking, “Now’s not a good time. Please don’t–ugh, that’s not a good idea. Aren’t they both really dirty? Isn’t her daughter hearing them?” Finally, most of the drama of Emma and Jeremiah’s relationship stemmed from Emma waffling between loving Jeremiah and being terrified of commitment. It was unconvincing and tiresome.
I did like that Jeremiah was not your typical alpha male. He was thoughtful, intellectual, and spiritual. He also treated Emma well, as far as I can remember. I’m not sorry I read Friendly Fire, but I remember enjoying Melton’s other books much more. (Also, I looked for another version of the book cover, any other version, and couldn’t find anything.)
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