Review: BLOOD AND FIRE by Shannon McKenna

We met Bruno Ranieri in FADE TO MIDNIGHT, the story of Kev McCloud, the last of the indomitable McCloud brothers. Bruno is Kev’s restless, hotheated, ass-kicking younger adopted brother from the loud and chaotic Ranieri family. With the help of Bruno and his other brothers, Kev has finally faced the monsters from his past, and emerged victorious–but Bruno’s got his own monsters to deal with, and lately, they’ve been circling around, closing in. And they’re hungry for blood.

Bruno’s been trying to keep it all together since his adopted brother Kev’s life exploded, leading to Bruno’s Uncle Tony’s untimely death. He’s been working hard at his business, keeping his nose clean, making money, trying to save his uncle’s restaurant—all while functioning with virtually no sleep, since the dreams from his childhood are back—terrifying nightmares that practically tear him apart, night after night.

Then Lily Parr sashays into the all night restaurant, wearing a black wig, a low cut dress, and a fifty pound chip on her shoulder, and blows his mind, in more ways than one. Like it wasn’t enough to be pole-axed by her ethereally seductive beauty, she’s also on the run from mysterious assassins, and she’s convinced that Bruno is somehow involved. Problem is, the second he touches her, he is involved—up to his neck, whether he wants it or not. And when violence explodes around them almost as quickly as the raging desire explodes between them, Bruno has to start wondering, weird as it seemed, if there’s something to her wild story—or if he’s just being used.

Lily Parr is desperate. She’s been a fugitive ever since her father’s death a month before in a mental hospital—ostensibly a suicide, but Lily knows in her heart that it’s murder. Her father tried to tell her the secret that had broken his mind right before his death, tried and failed, and right afterwards, Lily barely escaped a savage murder attempt outside her own New York City apartment. All her father had been able to give her was a name: Magda Ranieri, a woman who’d been murdered by her mafioso boyfriend twenty years before. It seemed like a dead end, but Magda had a son. Bruno Ranieri.

Lily has finally hunted him down, hoping for clues, but didn’t bargain for what she actually finds. The sexiest guy she’s ever seen. Volcanically hot. Magnetic. Protective. Charming. Funny. She does not need such a stupid distraction, not with rabid killers hot on her heels. But she cannot resist him. Not for a second.

Bruno has left the heartbreak in his past behind him. The last thing he wants is to reopen those old wounds, but Lily ignites a hunger inside him that he’s never felt before, and he can’t turn his back on her desperate plight. Nor can he stop touching her.

But a terrifying and unseen foe is right behind them, an enemy with seemingly endless power and resources. The faster they run, the harder they fight, the worse things get. Because there is a terrifying secret hidden in Bruno and Lily’s pasts, a secret that only the two of them working together can unearth—and their mysterious enemy will do anything to stop them from finding it. Passion rages unchecked as they race against time to unravel the mystery, but passion is not enough. They need trust to find the key, or the evil from their past will overtake them . . . and destroy them.

Author: Shannon McKenna
Series: McCloud and Friends, book 8
Genre: Romantic Suspense, Erotic Romance
Publisher: Kensington Publishing
Year of release: 2011, September 27
Format: Trade Size Paperback
Source: Bought via The BookDepository

First line:
The summons came at three A.M. Three short hits on the intercom.

Memorable Scenes:
– Lily trying to get Bruon to sleep with her and Bruno resisting > awesome scene, one of my favorites of the book
– the scene where Lily tries to relieve Bruno from his responsibilities when he doesn’t believe he’s involved in her problems > heartbreaking to see Lily man up and trying to leave Bruno
– the McClouds and Bruno digging in the woods > some issues got resolved there and it was much needed

Bruno Ranieri is smooth, talkative and sensitive yet with an air of toughness that gives him that edgy touch McKenna’s heroes have in common. He has self-deprecating humor and I love heroes who have that. He’s hyperactive and seems babbling and shallow but there’s so much more hiding behind his bubbly exterior.

Lily Parr is sarcastic, independent, guarded, tough, self-sufficient, mouthy, inventive and resourceful. Through the way she was brought up, or rather lack thereof she has learned to close off her emotions completely. However Bruno manages to peel the protective layers away and lays emotions bare Lily would rather keep hidden. I love the development McKenna’s heroines have gone through since the earlier books in this series. Lily is of the tougher, show no weakness and give ’em hell variety and I loved her. Loved her!!

The chemistry, the urgent, bordering on desperate, sexual zing, the verbal sparring, the off-the-charts sex scenes… Fixed elements of a McKenna romance novel were all present in BLOOD AND FIRE. The first dialogue between Bruno and Lily was so awesome. I loved it and loved the romance of these two. But then again, I always love the romance in Shannon McKenna’s books. She writes crazy, urgent romance and sexuality like nobody’s business and I mean this in the most positive way. As with her suspense (more about that further on in this review) to some it might be too over the top but I LOVE it!

The secondary cast was once again excellently put together. It consisted of the familiar characters like the McClouds and their friends of course but there were also some new and very interesting characters. I’m really hoping for a certain cop to get his story in this series and I think I read somewhere that Aaro is the hero of the next McCloud & Friends installment. I can’t wait! That main is the epitome of a Shannon McKenna hero, I need to meet the woman who’s going to bring him to his knees emotionally. There was also a revelation about Tam, one of my favorite women in this series, that made me jump up and do a happy dance! I’m not revealing it because I don’t want to spoil it for people who haven’t read these books yet but are planning to, but it is AWESOME!

Oh and the secondary character who completely and utterly stole the show for me was Bruno’s aunt Zia Rosa… I admit she did some TSTL things too but she was a hoot. A hoot! I had many laugh-out-loud moments when she was on the page. Like when in the middle of the McClouds analyzing what trouble Lily is in and who’s after her, she lectures Aaro on his being single. I really hope we get to see more of her in future books.

I loved so much about this book. Not in the least the plot. In this plot the whole villain set up was once again original and unique to this book in the series. One thing I absolutely liked was how the main villain had all these operatives who are rivaling each other for the favorite (pet) position with the boss. Envy, ambition and programming fed that brilliantly, which made the plot fantastical and unreal yet awesome at the same time.

The prologue was intense and attention grabbing, and together with the first 3 chapters, it promised me a fabulous read. There was some scary shit in the suspense part. At every twist and turn I got more and more intrigued and wondered how everything was linked together. Some things in the suspense plot I saw coming but there were enough others that just blew me away. It may be over the top for some but for me it shows exactly why I love Shannon McKenna’s writing. She just hooks me and reels me in and I gobble it all up.

I was really heading towards a perfect 10 rating, which would be the second for McKenna in this series. However the ending was a bit anticlimactic and the way the villain was taken care of did not match the intensity and brilliant set-up that was done throughout the book. But even if it doesn’t get the “Perfect” stamp this book was still beyond awesome. The way she weaves the suspense intricately together, gives me villains that make my skin crawl and make me gasp in horror and then spices it up with some graphic, explicit and scorching eroticism is so compelling, it just never fails to amaze me how much I love McKenna.

BLOOD AND FIRE is a masterpiece filled with exciting action, mind-blowing suspense, heart-stirring emotion and sizzling passionate heat. From my overabundant use of the word love in this review it might be clear that this book was another winner for Shannon McKenna and I’m yearning for the next book in this awesome series!

Favorite Quotes:

Zia had added her own heroic efforts to the production of food that made your taste buds burst into six-part harmony while simultaneously clogging your arteries with deadly plaque.

His sex life was decimated. A guy couldn’t invite lady friends over for erotic frolics when he had an early morning date with monsters from the depth of his damaged psyche. Real mood killer, that. (Bruno)

When she took a table, he got more frontal scoping action but had to resort to old tricks from adolescence, developed before he discovered the ease and simplicity of mirrored sunglasses. Take it in, in one sweeping glance, and then pore over the gathered data in the privacy of his own dirty mind. He could never gulp enough of this girl in a single glance, though. He wanted to sit down across from her. Fix her with an unblinking, predatory stare.

“I’m an excellent pastry chef. My pie crust is better than my Zia Rosa’s. Come on back to the kitchen. I’ll make a chocolate cream pie before your very eyes. I’ll feed a piece of it to you by hand. And by the time I’m done, you’re not going to be asking if I’m gay anymore.” (Bruno)

She belted her coat, caught him ogling. Her red lips curved. His face heated. He was so not smooth with her. His smoothness just fell off of him, thud. He became jerky, jagged. As dumb as a rock

She was smiling like an idiot. Happiness was bubbling up inside of her, and it scared her. She had no place to put it. It had nowhere to go, no room to grow. No right to exist in her life, as it currently was.

“Sorry, but I’m no better at keeping my mouth shut than you are,” she said. “You’re letting out a really scary god-king-of-the-universe vibe and it bugs me. Being bullied does not make me shiver with sexual excitement, Bruno. It just makes me say sarcastic things, which then escalate to screaming obscenities until the offending behavior stops.”
“Oh man. I’m in for it then,” Bruno said. “Lucky me.”

She thrummed, burned, with a need that had no name. Not just sex, but a heart-splitting ache, a sharp yearning for something far deeper. She craved him. Wanted to crawl inside him, body and mind, heart and soul. She wanted to walk inside his dreams. She was jealous of his past, possessive of his future. She wanted to wrap herself in him like a blanket, twine herself through his body, braid herself into his life. Into his very veins and blood, until they could never be untangled.


One thought on “Review: BLOOD AND FIRE by Shannon McKenna

  1. Great review! I’m a fan of this series too. I love Shannon McKenna’s writing. the Digging in the woods scene is one of my favorites too, finally some issues between the McClouds resolved in this book

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