Saturday, February 4, 2023

Review: Playing With Fire

Playing With Fire Playing With Fire by Shonel Jackson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

3.3 stars 

I received this book for free, this does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. 

Her invitation, and it was an invitation, hung in the air, neither of them looking away from the other. They silently communicated everything that needed to be said. He took her hand, led her downstairs and out the front door. 

With the one year anniversary of his wife's death, Javier Martinez decides to leave his family's vineyard in Spain to accept the invitation from his friend to celebrate in a Capoeira batizado in London. When he locks eyes with Luna Michaels, a part of himself that has been buried wakes up. Luna is also instantly attracted to Javi but when he gives her a little bit of a cold shoulder in the morning, she thinks he regrets their one night together. So, when their one night gets Luna pregnant, she learns from mutual friends that Javi is a grieving widow, and she battles a case of postpartum depression after Lexi's birth, it takes two years before Luna is ready to tell Javi he's a father. Javi interrupts her plans when he unexpectedly shows up to the batizado again, after skipping a year, and Lexi jumps into arms. 

She wanted her daughter to have her father, but Luna the woman, realised she may have also wanted the man too. 

Playing with Fire is second in the Era Capoeira series and I loved how much of the Brazilian martial arts the author included. A fighting art form that incorporates music and dance like movements into it's style, utilizing capoeira as a setting at times gave a great fun, competitive, and push and pull atmosphere that works fantastic for a romance. The beginning had Luna and Javi falling into insta-lust with some flirty playfulness and then when the story jumps us those two years to Luna having her daughter Lexi and the surprise way Javi meets her, we actually get our third act break-up/black moment right away. I liked this flip because then it gave the characters the majority of the story to work through the problems, more time for believable emotional growth. For the most part, I liked how the time was used but it did get a little slow with some repetitiveness in the middle later half. 

She was 'playing with fire', in more ways than one. 

Javi had some of that Harlequin Presents main male character to him and demanded to move in with Luna so he could get to know his daughter, even when Luna tells him she only has one bed. These two had a good amount of bedroom scenes (the dining room table doesn't get left out, either), so if you're looking for more of that in your contemporary romance, this had it in spades. Javi is, obviously, angry about Luna not telling him about his daughter but by midway, when Luna lays it all out how the last two years went for her, he softens. He then wants Luna and Lexi to move to Spain with him, he can't leave because of his family's vineyard and Luna has a freelance remote graphic designer job. 

In his eyes, she could see nothing but fire and hunger. 

The second half was Luna warring with the decision to move to Spain to be with Javi, she feels in love with him at this point but worried he'll never be able to open his heart after losing his first wife. Javi pretty much mirrors Luna, he's wildly attracted to Luna and loves Lexi but opening his heart again is tough. They travel to Spain for Javi's younger sister's wedding and we get a little bit of family drama from Javi's mother and a very small other woman showing up bitter. If you're new to the series, you could easily jump in here and readers of the first book would probably enjoy the appearances of that main couple as they are both friends of Luna and Javi and show up a fair amount. If you like Harlequin Presents, this had some flavor of those tones or enjoyed Lori Foster's MMA series, you'd definitely want to give this a try. Each chapter had a drawing and labeling of a capoeira movement, the title was a fun play on Javi's capoeira nickname, and the playful battling of the martial arts flowed extremely well into the romance.

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