Book Review: All Fired Up (ARC)

Expected publication: May 17th 2022

Author: Dylan Newton

After one wild night together, two complete opposites plan to stay firmly in the friend zone, but life has other plans in this delightful romantic comedy, perfect for fans of Emily Henry and Abby Jimenez.

As a successful book publicist, Imani Lewis works night and day to promote her authors.  It’s her dream job, but she’s become a total workaholic. So when her grandmother invites her to stay for the summer as she recovers from surgery, Imani happily agrees. But being back in the same small town as her one-night stand may not be quite the relaxing break she envisioned… 

Zander Matthews wakes up every day determined to enjoy the present because he knows from his time in the Marines that tomorrow isn’t guaranteed. But he’s never gotten over the beautiful woman who blew through town a year ago, then disappeared. And he doesn’t want to be hurt again. So they agree to a deal: he’ll help Imani fix up her grandmother’s house as long as they stay firmly in the friend zone.

Whether it’s repairing tiles in his ceramics studio, dodging nosy neighbors, or soothing the most obnoxious parrot ever, Zander never fails to make Imani laugh. And soon their friendly banter is turning ever flirtier. But since Imani’s stay is temporary and Zander can’t be tied to anything beyond the most tenuous plans, will she be able to handle it when things get all fired up?

All Fired Up follows opposites attract Imani and Zander. While this story features minor characters from How Sweet It Is, the two stories can be read as standalones. Imani Lewis is a publicist for Cerulean Books based out of Los Angeles. One of her authors, Drake Mathew, a horror author, is now in a relationship with Imani’s best friend, Sweet Events owner, Kate Sweet. Imani returns to Wellsville, New York to help her grandmother recover from surgery and to help Kate prepare for her baby. Going back to Wellsville also means facing Zander, her weekend hook-up from the previous year who happens to be Drake’s youngest brother.

The story follows Zander and Imani as they try to navigate their feelings and lives. Their story is told from dual perspectives so the reader can follow along each side. Imani is at a crossroads in her life as she is not entirely happy with everything, including her career. She worries a lot about her life as she likes to plan for the future. Zander is the complete opposite and likes to live in the moment. He is a veteran who served as a marine and now is the owner of three pottery studios. When the two of them begin interacting, they shared great banter and chemistry. I loved how the two of them learned from each other even though they have two mindsets for their approach in life.

After her mother passed away while Imani was away from home, she still suffers from guilt and grief. Along with PTSD and mental health explorations, everything was handled well in this novel. The writing seemed not only authentic to reality, but it fit the characters. While the two characters did initially meet a year ago, it was nice that they still took the time to get to know each other. With some history together, there was a nice balance to their relationship and to the general pacing of the story. I greatly enjoyed Imani and Zander’s story and I cannot wait to read the next novel featuring the third middle-brother of the Matthews family, Ryker!

**I give a special thank you to Netgalley and the publisher, Forever (Grand Central Publishing), for the opportunity to read this enjoyable novel. The opinions expressed are completely my own.**

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