REVIEW: Painting with Fire, by Lissa Kasey

Title: Painting with Fire

Author: Lissa Kasey

Genre: Contemporary

LGBTQ+ Category: MM /Gay

Publisher: Self

Pages: 248

Reviewer: Pat

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About The Book

Charlie “Wood Chuck” Fox knows his best friend and fellow wildfire firefighter Jessie Row had a major family break up in her past. Charlie has adopted her into his heart and into his huge family and when Jessie gets word her mother has passed away, Charlie fears returning home is going to tear her up.

Bastian Hart’s choice of career as a doll painter has put him at odds with his family. He’s made a sanctuary for himself on the San Juan Island of Friday Harbor, an hour away from his family. He welcomes his aunt Jessie and her friend Charlie into his house as they all prepare for the upcoming funeral. Charlie and Bastian discover a spark of smoldering fire igniting between them, but Charlie is unwilling to push and Bastian hesitant to trust. 

They will have to wade through pain, hate, and fear to find their future together.

The Review

The things good friends will go through for each other, right? At least that’s what Charlie Fox thinks as he accompanies his fellow wildfire firefighter Jessie Row to her mother’s funeral. Jessie comes from a highly dysfunctional family, so the older Jessie promises her younger partner Charlie, whom she’s nicknamed Wood Chuck, an emotional rollercoaster ride while they encounter her spiteful and often hateful siblings and family.

What Charlie—and this reader—didn’t expect was an enchanting glimpse into the real world of artistic doll painting while Jessie deals with her impossible relatives. Jessie’s nephew Brian, who’s a little younger than Charlie, is a recluse who paints art dolls for a living, and a quite remunerative living it’s been. Suddenly, the Internet worlds of Iple House and Migidoll and Spiritdoll opened up, and I spilled into them as if a visitor to a super-select Disneyworld.

If Jessie thinks she’s had a tough time growing up with her impossible relatives, it’s only a drop in the bucket compared to what her nephew, a man who likes to paint the faces of porcelain dolls, has had to deal with. Brian in his secluded house on the San Juan Island of Friday Harbor has become a local legend in the neighborhood and a piranha in his family.

He is also one of the most unique romance characters readers will come across. In the course of their getting together, loveable yet aloof, Brian gently persuades Charlie that staying in one place and not running off to the latest wildfire might make his life perfect. Charlie, who’s been an adrenalin junkie, is a hard sell at first, but once Brian works his magic, they win their happily ever after.

The wonderful news for readers who enjoy this book as much as I did is that author Kasey has a large enough back list that we can be entertained and enchanted long enough for her to write us another tale between fixes. Thank goodness for backlists—especially for those from writers like Kasey.

The Reviewer

Pat Henshaw:

  1. Is a she, not a he.
  2. Writes MM romances.
  3. Has interviewed Arlo Guthrie, Big Bird, Fred Rogers, Liberace, and Vincent Price.
  4. Has lived and worked on all three US coasts and in the middle of the country, too.
  5. Has been a reviewer, costumer, librarian, and teacher.
  6. Has ridden an elephant, touched the pyramids, and stood at the edge of a volcano.
  7. Believes love is essential to everyone’s happiness.
  8. She wants you to remember: Every day is a good day for romance!

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