Title & Author: Code Blue by Stephani Hecht
Series: EMS Heat (#5)
Release Date: October 1, 2010
Publisher: eXtasy Books
Pages: 104 pages
Book Blurb (from Goodreads):
As a firefighter, Justin has learned the hard way that bad things always seem to come in threes and the sudden turn of events in his life is no different. First, major budget cuts to the fire department force him to take a part-time job as a medic and his new partner hates not just him, but all men in general. Next, his rig gets stolen by some drunken bum named Indian Jack, who then crashes it into the local planetarium. Finally, some punk named Clayton shows up and stirs up all kinds of trouble.
Young and way too damn hot looking for his own good, Clayton has come to Flint to claim back his first love, Dylan. There is just one problem with that: Dylan is already in a committed relationship with Justin’s best friend, Kaleb. Since Justin loves Kaleb like a brother, he intervenes by coldly telling Clayton to leave Flint and never come back. To his annoyance, not only does the younger man refuse to leave, but he somehow manages to get a job at one of the local hospitals. So now not only does Justin have to face that Clayton is not going away, but he has to see him every day – all the while fighting the growing attraction between them.
Then Justin learns that everything about Clayton may not be as it seems. The younger man harbors a past and secrets from which he’s never healed. Despite himself, Justin finds he is drawn closer to Clayton and knows nothing will stop him from tying to protect the troubled man. Will Justin be able to help him become whole, or will Clayton be lost to him forever?
Well, that was mediocre.
Let me back up for a sec…
I was first introduced to Stephani Hecht’s EMS Heat series by a Goodreads friend (and fellow M/M romance junkie) in December 2013. All she had to say was that the eighteen-book series revolved around a group of doctors, paramedics, nurses, and firefighters who live and work in the rather economically depressed city of Flint, Michigan, and I was all grabby hands and “gimme, gimme, gimme!” (after all, I’m fairly certain that the only thing better than one man in uniform is two men in uniform).
I read the first novella in the series, Running Hot, that night and enjoyed the heck out of it; I thought the story was a perfect balance between sweet and sexy, the main characters were equal parts smokin’ hot and adorkable, and the ending had a twist that I totally didn’t see coming (you can find my full review for Running Hot here).
Since then, I’ve read the next four novellas in the series and they’ve been good (good, not great). Running between 80 and 140 pages each, I’ve found these stories to be the perfect palate cleanser between longer and/or more intensely emotional books.
But now I think I’m bored.
Code Blue is the fifth installment in the series and it was… just okay.
I must confess that I liked Clayton’s character quite a bit. While a little stereotypical for the gay son of a preacher, his back story was nothing short of heartbreaking and I found my heart immediately going out to the poor guy. But despite having endured a hellish few months at the hands of those who were supposed to love and care for him, Clayton managed to remain a sweet, kind, humble guy. I appreciated his independent streak, chuckled over his sheltered upbringing, and found his enthusiasm for pop culture and gay sex strangely endearing.
However, as much as I liked Clayton, I felt almost nothing towards Justin. Well, except for the fact that I was mildly annoyed with his mercurial mood swings and attitude changes towards Clayton — he was smitten, then he was suspicious and irate, then he was annoyed, then he was vaguely accommodating, then… BAM! He was so deeply in love he couldn’t see straight. And yet somehow the character’s personal roller coaster of emotions and reactions didn’t grab my heart and pull me along for the ride.
Overall, I thought the chemistry between the two characters was okay (but nothing to write home about), the sex was okay, too (but again, not as scorching hot as earlier novellas in the series), the dialogue was passable (but mundane), and the ending was sweet (but forgettable). All in all, it was a perfectly satisfactory story, but one whose title I’m struggling to remember even as I write this review.
That can’t be a good sign, can it?!