Since the death of their mother, Josten Applewhite has done what he’s had to do to take care of his little brother and keep their small family together. But in an instant, a stroke of bad luck tears down what little home he’s managed to build, and Jos and Isaac end up on the streets.
That’s where Officer Kip Rogers finds them, and even though he knows he should let the proper authorities handle things, he cannot find it in his heart to turn them away, going so far as to invite them to stay in his home until they get back on their feet. With the help of Kip and his friends, Jos starts to rebuild his life. But experience has taught him nothing comes for free, and the generosity seems too good to be true—just like everything about Kip.
Kip’s falling hard for Jos, and he likes the way Jos and Isaac make his big house feel like a home. But their arrangement can’t be permanent, not with Jos set on making his own way. Then a distant relative emerges, determined to destroy Jos’s family, and Kip knows Jos needs him—even if he’s not ready to admit it.
Andrew Grey is one of the few author’s who’ve made it onto my auto-buy list. Fire and Water, the first book in the Carlisle Cops series, was the book that placed him there. While I love seeing more books released featuring the small communities I’ve come to expect from Andrew, I will admit it always makes me nervous when I crack open the next book. I keep worrying that, as much as I love him, this book will be the one to make me wish he’d ended the series sooner. I’m elated to say Andrew has not hit that point with the boys from Carlisle. If anything, he has continued leaving me wanting more.
From the moment Kip responds to a call and finds Jos and Isaac trying to stay warm and dry, your heart begins to melt. As typical for this author, he doesn’t simply try to draw you into the romance between the couple, he takes you on a journey of growth for all of the characters.
It was easy to see the road Jos would have to travel. No matter how bad his situation might have seemed, he was determined to make it on his own, not only for himself, but for his young brother who needed him. At times, I wanted to slap him but then I thought about how I would look at the world if I’d gone through what he had. A steady parade of men coming through the door, a minimally present mother, being thrust into parenthood at a young age, and then losing everything. It’d be hard to believe anyone truly wanted to help without expecting anything in return.
Kip’s journey was a bit harder to figure out. I never doubted that he was helping Jos and Isaac for a reason deeper than feeling some sense of civic duty. The revelation was heart-wrenching. What I loved the most about him was that he tried to weigh his own desires against Jos’. It truly felt as though he wanted what was best for Jos and Isaac, even if it was painful for him.
Unlike many romances involving children, I didn’t feel as though Isaac played a supporting role. He was the key to Jos and Kip falling in love. If Jos had been alone, Kip may not have felt the same draw to help him. If Jos hadn’t been responsible for Isaac’s well-being, he’d have never let Kip offer him a helping hand. He offered comedic relief at times, and worked well to show the soft heart of both adults.
I’ll admit, the distant relative’s return didn’t hold many surprises, but I don’t think it was meant to. It was simply a tool to help Jos realize how strong he was. What I enjoyed about this particular plot arc is that Andrew knew how much to add without going overboard.
I will say, if you’re looking for a hotter read, along the lines of Andrew Grey’s Bronco’s Boys series, this may not be the book for you. That’s not to take a single thing away from this story, because it’s one of my favorite books he’s written. But I felt it worth mentioning that this is a love story, a slow burn that leaves you with no doubt the couple will make it through anything life throws their way.
I’m not sure if there will be more Carlisle couples, but Fire and Rain left me wanting to read the story again, trying to figure out who might be next.