Title: Friendly Fire
Author: Cari Z.
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Release Date: Oct. 17,2016
Flames: 3 out of 5
Stars: 4 out of 5
There are very few books that I’ve had the privilege of reading that a) instantly pulled me in, b) featured beautifully well rounded characters with chemistry for dayyyss, and c) pulls all of that together with multiple mediums. Friendly Fire was one of those books.
I’m a little bit of a sucker for the ex-con redemption story, and Elliot here is no exception. Although, I do have to admit, when the blurb said, “after losing his job and his lover and almost going to prison,” I did kind of expect the crime in question to be a little bit more… should we say, explosive?
For me, redemption of this sort is a lot more effective if the MC has done something truly despicable and was truly a terrible person and is finding themselves and rising above that. I didn’t feel like Elliot really fit that bill in his little world of white collar crime (not to say that crime isn’t crime! I just expected… more?).
That being said, I instantly fell in love with Elliot’s charm and ease with which he understood and could read people. He was very smooth and suave and to be completely honest, he reminded me a little bit of a snake, minus the creep factor. Buuttt, he also had a way with words that made him seem so harmless. I was completely enamored with his character because that type of person is incredibly difficult to write. Very impressed, Cari Z. Very impressed.
Plus, who couldn’t love little Holly? I think she was the highlight of the entire book, and such an unexpected little dog for either of these characters to care so deeply about.
I absolutely loved that prissy little dog.
And on the other hand, we have Lennox, who… I did not like at first. I think he came across as a very withdrawn and damaged character that was a little too dad-like for a character like Elliot to fall for, but it didn’t take long for me to change my mind.
I was mildly upset that there was so little background on Lennox and his internal struggles, both with his nightmares and PTSD and with his family. Buuttt, I really grew to love his character despite not having that background information to help me form an opinion and understand why he behaved the way he did. The way that he held his daughter above everyone else and the way he treated Elliot like he was his world (in such little time, no less) told me everything I needed to know to understand that Lennox West was a good man.
I loved the plot. I loved the characters. I loved the chemistry. So, why only 4 stars then?
Well, these two definitely had the chemistry. It was all there, practically wrapped in shiny red paper, complete with a bow on top, but do you know how disappointing it is to have that present sitting there, completely perfect, as the tension builds and then… you never get to open it?
That’s what Friendly Fire was like to me. Lennox was a character that had so much depth and he’d already shown in his relationship with his daughter that he knows how to read people and be what they need in a particular situation. As someone who was dealing with PTSD, he understood shock and the need for comfort more than anyone else in Elliot’s life, and yet… he did nothing.
There was such an opportunity here for Lennox to open up and to have a heart-to-heart with Elliot, for them to really get into each other’s minds and open up. That special brand of vulnerability introduces a whole new side of a character for a reader and it creates a kind of depth that is difficult to achieve otherwise. I think Cari really missed out on taking advantage of that.
This book got a little bit steamy in the beginning, and that was great, but I really really really would have loved to have seen how their love for each other changed those intimate moments.
Overall, this book was a solid 4 stars for me. I enjoyed the read and the individual character depth was amazing, but I would have loved to see their connection with each other grow a little more. I would certainly recommend this one and will be keeping my eyes peeled for more of Cari Z.’s work.