Review: Fever (Phoenix Rising #1) by Joan Swan
After escaping prison, where he was serving a life term for a heinous crime he didn’t commit, Teague Creek is desperate to take back the only thing left in his life that still has any meaning or goodness, his daughter, even if it means kidnapping, grand theft auto, and living the rest of his life as a fugitive from the law. Before Teague abducts her as leverage in his crazy escape plan, Alyssa Foster wants nothing more from life than to win the coveted attending radiologist position she’s been working toward for the last year. Now both of them will have to fight their attraction to each other while avoiding capture and trying to get to the bottom of the mysterious warehouse explosion that left Teague with supernatural abilities and a devastated team of firefighters. Fever is a GraveTells “Must Read”!
- Title: Fever
- Series: Phoenix Rising, book #1
- Author: Joan Swan
- Prominent Characters: Teague, Alyssa
- Recommended Reader Age: 16+
- Sexual Content Level: light-to-moderate, not explicit
*** This review is SPOILER-FREE! Read on with confidence! ***
Ok first i just have to say mmmm, firemen! You know that combination of muscles, vulnerable boy-next-door charm, outgoing attitude, and life-risking savior complex that makes them so irresistible and lethal to a woman’s libido? Well Teague Creek has all of that. In spades. This dude is the whole package.
Despite his offensive tattoos and the fact that you meet him as a convict, Teague is sexy and commanding right from the start. Take-charge but not an asshole, determinedly protecting and tending his prisoner but not weak or gullible, capable but not overconfident, and respectful and thankful for the little things. I liked that he had a reason to be so fit (those sexy muscles we ogle on the covers of books don’t sculpt themselves, peeps!) and Alyssa recognized just how much time and effort that level of “wow” and *drool* requires. I think we take that for granted a lot with our heroes, like their strength just magically pops in out of nowhere. It’s no wonder Alyssa found herself unintentionally attracted to him- I was too! And if you’re stressing about the tattoos (bald, muscle-bound convicts with swastikas on their heads and Aryan clovers on their knuckles generally make me want to run the other direction), don’t… they aren’t as permanent as you might expect.
Teague is desperate and driven, reuniting with his daughter the only thing keeping him going. Alyssa is stubborn and smart, and the only thing she wants more than getting way from Teague is to save her soul-sucking medical career. As time goes on and Lys starts to delve into the vicious tangle of lies and deceit that sent Teague to prison, determination fuels them both… Teague to keep everyone else away from him and out of the line of fire, and Alyssa to see Teague vindicated and his life rightfully restored.
Their chemistry is searing and paced leisurely enough to be believable. In a hostage situation, especially when the man is fresh out of a three year prison stint, it would be easy to rush the pace of attraction between them, but Ms. Swan masterfully draws it out with lingering touches and looks, even as the characters themselves hesitate over Stockholm syndrome and the intense physical need resulting from Teague’s time on the inside. As hot as their physical passion is (and that’s without being too explicit!), their fledgling emotional connection is remarkably strong. Teague’s acceptance of the mess his life has become, combined with his absolute need to protect and shelter, really touches me. This is a man who can wear the violent psychopathic prison facade as a shield when he needs to, but still manages to retain the vulnerable sense of self that prison so effectively strips away. His personality practically begs you to care for him while obstinately keeping you at arm’s length.
I also really liked how Ms. Swan uses quotes from earlier in the story to help tie the past to the present, to connect thought patterns and bridge emotional gaps. It makes the characters feel more vulnerable and more relatable.
For you Teague, we will be whatever you want. Right, Alyssa?
“Remember.” Creek lifted the bottom of his tee to reveal the handle of the gun. “I still have this.”Alyssa’s eyes skipped past the weapon to the delineated abdominal muscles beneath. This guy had blown right by six-pack. He had an eight-pack going, and then some.“You’re going to be a good girl,” he said. “Right?”Alyssa’s mind took a wrong turn somewhere. It veered from the clean city streets and headed straight to a seedy alley, picking up a dozen different innuendos on the trip.
Oh touche. Can I look now?
“Are you done? I want to talk to you.”“In case you hadn’t noticed,” he said, his voice muffled behind what Alyssa guessed was a t-shirt coming over his head, “I’m a man. I do ‘talk’ about as well as you follow directions.”
Teague waved a spatula at the table. “Sit down, food’s ready.”“Did you hear me?”“How could I not hear all ninety-eight pounds of you threatening all two-hundred pounds of me?”“A hundred-and-twenty pounds, thank you.”“Not even after you ate every scrap of food on that table.”
With a strip of bacon in one hand, her fork in the other, she started a two-handed method of eating Teague had never seen outside a firehouse. A lopsided grin pulled at his lips as he watched.“She flicked an absent glance his way. “What?”He chuckled, reached across the table and wiped a smudge of syrup from the corner of her mouth with his knuckle. “You look like a chipmunk hoarding for winter.”
If you liked Fever…
If you enjoyed Fever for its high quality writing and character development, you might also like the works of Nalini Singh, our 2011 GT Author of the Year. She has two major paranormal series and both are excellent. The Psy-Changeling series (starting with Slave To Sensation) centers around two rival packs of shifters and the mentally powerful Psy as they fight against each other, the warring human faction, and plots from within the Psy Council to bring down shifter packs across the nation. The Guild Hunter, series (starting with Angel’s Blood) follows vampire hunter Elena, archangel Raphael, and his lethal Seven as they battle threats to Raphael and Elena, and pretty much the general world population. Apparently archangels aren’t as benevolent as we thought.
For more excellent character development, you might also enjoy the writing of Laura Kaye (see North of Need). And Eleri Stone (see Demon Crossings). Laura Kaye was the GT Readers Choice Favorite Author of January 2012 and her North of Need received our rare perfect score Gold Heart Award was named as one of our 2011 Books of the Year. Eleri Stone’s Demon Crossings was our January 2012 Book of the Month and received 4.5/5 hearts. Sound like a hefty lineup of recommendations? For good reason! Joan Swan’s writing is top-notch. She’s definitely a rising star and I’m looking forward to seeing what she does next!
Fever’s characters are complex and compelling, complicated and endearing, unique and memorable. The storyline is a mystery that unravels thread by interesting thread, and leaves the reader craving the next book in the series just to spend more time with the characters. This is the first book in a unique series about a group of firefighters whose lives were all supernaturally changed by a brutal warehouse explosion. I love that it’s such a fresh new perspective for a series, and if the level of skill Ms. Swan shows in Fever for weaving a story with compelling, touchingly flawed characters is any indication about what’s in store, I can’t wait to read the rest! Fever is a must-read!