This RITA® Reader Challenge review was written by Cassandra. This story finaled in the Best Novella category.
ETA: I also have a review from Alyssa, who gave this novella a B.
Plot Summary: Permanently injured on a black-ops mission, Cord Madden is furious at the world. Then Lexi McGowen reappears in his life to nurse him back to health. Little does he guess that she’s about to reveal a whole new world to him, one touch at a time.
And here is Cassandra’s review:
Friendly Fire, by Jill Shalvis, is part of the Born on the Fourth of July anthology from the Harlequin Blaze line. Ms. Shalvis presents a compelling story of two people who have both faced loss, but in entirely different ways. While the hero struggles with predominantly physical losses, the heroine’s scars are less visible. Ms. Shalvis weaves both into the fabric of the story. There’s also a realistic conflict between the hero and the heroine, as they’ve been friends for years and are only now considering becoming more. The sexual tension is high from the beginning to the end of the book, and both the hero and heroine are likeable characters you want to root for.
My only complaint is I believe Ms. Shalvis could’ve used deeper point of view to really bring the conflicting feelings of the hero and heroine home. The book was enjoyable, but the stakes would’ve been higher if the reader could’ve delved into the characters’ minds a little more. Overall, though, the story is one I would recommend to others who enjoy the Harlequin Blaze line or the work of Jill Shalvis.
And here is Alyssa’s review:
I’m usually not a fan of the friends-become-lovers trope, but there are plenty of things to like about Jill Shavis’s novella Friendly Fire. For instance, the first sex scene in the story occurs between the heroine, Lexi, and the hero’s detachable showerhead.
Special ops soldier Cord returns home injured and facing forced retirement from the armed forces. Lexi decides that she has to help Cord recover both mentally and physically. He helped Lexi work through the deaths of her parents and her husband, and she sees it as her duty to help him in return. She also wants to get busy with him in the worst way, so she doesn’t mind spending most of her time bringing him dinner or chauffeuring him around. The scenes in which Lexi helps Cord figure out his new life and how to think of himself as more than an injured soldier are satisfying and well-written, as is most of the banter between the two characters.
There were a few things that didn’t quite work for me. The timeline of Cord’s recovery from his injuries paired with the development of their relationship has some issues, which is understandable considering the short format of the story. Things move much too fast. It’s a bit much for Cord to be blown out of a humvee in the middle east and then two weeks later be shagging on the floor of his apartment. Also, his major hearing loss makes it difficult to read the dialogue between him and Lexi without constantly wondering how he can hear her.
My major issue with the book was Lexi’s sudden backpedaling once Cord gives in to her plan to make him hers. I know she has issues, but it doesn’t quite make sense after she has spent the entire story going after him with single-minded determination.
Overall, Friendly Fire was a quick, entertaining read with some smoking hot love scenes. Also, Shavis gets bonus points incorporating the phrase “butt-ass naked” into the story. I’ll be checking out some of her other work in the near future.