From the #1 New York Times bestselling author and “master of contemporary romance, with heroes so hot they set the pages on fire” (Gena Showalter, New York Times bestselling author), a steamy romantic suspense novel about arson investigator, Anne Ashburn, who is consumed by her troubled past, her family’s scorched legacy, and her current case: chasing a deadly killer.
Anne Ashburn is a woman consumed...
Strong-willed and brash, Anne relished the thrill of fighting fires. But when one risky decision at a warehouse scene changes her life forever, she must reinvent not only her job, but her whole self.
Despite the desire to move on, Anne finds her new career as an arson investigator a pale substitute for all the adrenaline-fueled buzz she left behind. She doesn’t believe she will ever feel that same all-consuming passion for a job again—until a string of suspicious fires endangers the lives of her former colleagues.
Danny McGuire is the best fireman in the city but in the midst of a personal meltdown. He’s taking risks like never before thanks to a reckless death wish—until he teams up with Anne to find the fire starter. Passion flares between them—not for the first time—but as Anne narrows in on her target, the arsonist marks her as the next victim in this firestorm of a novel.
With heart-pounding suspense and sizzling romance, Consumed is a compulsively readable novel that “you won’t be able to put down” (USA TODAY).
About the Author
J.R. Ward is the author of more than thirty novels, including those in her #1 New York Times bestselling Black Dagger Brotherhood series. There are more than fifteen million copies of her novels in print worldwide, and they have been published in twenty-six different countries around the world. She lives in the South with her family.
Read an Excerpt
Harbor Street and Eighteenth Avenue
Old Downtown, New Brunswick, Massachusetts
Box alarm. One-niner-four-seven. Two engines and a ladder from the 499, responding.
Or, put another way, Anne Ashburn’s Friday night date had showed up on time and was taking her to a show. Granted, “on time” was the precise moment she had sat down for a meal at the stationhouse with her crew, and the “show” was a warehouse fire they were going to have to chorus-line for. But if you judged the health of a relationship on its constancy and whether it brought purpose and meaning to your life?
Then this firefighting gig was the best damn partner a woman could ask for.
As Engine Co. 17 turned the corner onto Harbor with siren and lights going, Anne glanced around the shallow seating area of the apparatus. There were four jump seats behind the cab, two forward-facing, two rear-, the pairs separated by an aisle of gear. Emilio “Amy” Chavez and Patrick “Duff” Duffy were on one side. She and Daniel “Dannyboy” Maguire were on the other. Up in front, Deshaun “Doc” Lewis, the engineer, was behind the wheel, and Captain Christopher “Chip” Baker, the incident commander, was shotgun.
Her nickname was “Sister.” Which was what happened when you were the sibling of the great Fire Chief Thomas Ashburn, Jr., and the daughter of the revered—falsely as it turned out—Thomas Ashburn, Sr.
Not everybody called her that, though.
She focused on Danny. He was staring out the open window, the cold November wind blowing his black hair back, his exhausted blue eyes focused on nothing. In their bulky turnouts, their knees brushed every time the engine bumped over sewer-access panels, potholes, manholes, intersections.
Okay, okay, she wanted to say to fate. I know he’s there. You don’t have to keep reminding me.
The hardheaded bastard was a lot of things, most of which carried terms you couldn’t use around your grandmother, but he knew she hated the “Sister” thing, so to him, she was Ashburn.
He’d also called her Anne—once. Late at night about three weeks ago.
Yes, they had been naked at the time. Oh, God . . . had they finally done that?
“I’m gonna beat you at pong,” he said without looking at her. “Soon as we get back.”
“No chance.” She hated that he knew she’d been staring at him. “All talk, Dannyboy.”
“Fine.” He turned to face her. “I’ll let you win, how about that?”
His smile was slow, knowing, evil. And her temper answered the phone on the first ring.
“The hell you will.” Anne leaned forward. “I won’t play with you if you cheat.”
“Even if it benefits you?”
“That’s not winning.”
“Huh. Well, you’ll have to explain to me the ins and outs of it when we’re back at the house. While I’m beating you.”
Anne shook her head and glared out the open window.
The first tap on her leg she ascribed to a bump in the road. The second, third, and fourth were obviously—
She looked back at Danny. “Stop it.”
“Are you twelve?” As he started to smile, she knew exactly where his mind had gone. “Not inches. Age.”
“I’m pretty sure I peak more like at sixteen.” He lowered his voice. “What do you think?”
Between the sirens and the open windows, no one else could hear them—and Danny never pulled the double entendre if there was a risk of that. But yes, Anne now knew intimately all of his heavily muscled and tattooed anatomy. Granted, it had been only that once.
Then again, unforgettable only had to happen one time.
“I think you’re out of your mind,” she muttered.
And then they were at the scene. The old 1900s-era warehouse was a shell of its former useful self, sixty-five thousand square feet of broken glass panes, rotting beams, and blown-off roof panels. The outer walls were brick, but based on the age, the floors and any room dividers inside were going to be wood. The blaze was in the northeast corner on the second floor, billowing smoke wafting up into the forty-degree night air before being carried away by a southerly wind.
As Anne’s boots hit the ground, she pulled the top half of her turnouts closed. Her ponytail was up high on the back of her head, and she stripped out the band, reorganized the shoulder length, and cranked things tight at her nape. The brown was still streaked with blond from the summer, but she needed to get it trimmed—so all that lightness was on the chopping block.
Of course, if she were a woman “who took care of herself,” she’d get it highlighted through the winter months. Or so her mother liked to tell her. But who the hell had time for that?
“Sister, you sweep the place with Amy for addicts,” Captain Baker commanded. “Stay away from that corner. Danny and Duff, run those lines!”
As Captain Baker continued to bark orders out, she turned away. She had her assignment. Until she completed it, or there was an insurmountable obstacle or change of order, she was required to execute that directive and no other.
“Be safe in there, Ashburn.”
The words were soft and low, meant for her ears alone. And as she glanced over her shoulder, Danny’s Irish eyes were not smiling.
A ripple of premonition made her rub the back of her neck. “Yeah, you, too, Maguire.”
“Piece’a cake. We’ll be back at pong before ten.”
They walked away from each other at the same time, Danny going around to the stacks of hoses in the back, her linking up with Chavez. She liked being paired with Emilio. He was a four-year veteran who was built like an SUV and had the brains of a Jeopardy! contestant. He also did what he said he was going to do with no drama.
The two of them went to a compartment on the outside of the truck, threw up the protective metal panel, and grabbed for their air tanks. After pulling her hood over her head, she Velcro’d and buckled her jacket and loaded her oxygen source onto her back. She let the mask hang loose and put her helmet on.
Moving forward on the truck flank, they opened another compartment, and she strapped a hand axe on her hip and added her radio and a box light. When Emilio was ready, the pair of them gloved up and jogged across the frosted scruff grass, hopping over a debris salad of rusted-out car parts, random pieces of building, and weathered trash. The flashing red lights of the trucks made bulky shadows out of their graceless movements, and the clean air going in and out of her throat was the kind of thing she made sure to enjoy.
It was going to be a while before she had it again.
As they came up to a side door, the knob was locked, but the panels were loose as a bad fighter’s front teeth.
“I got it,” she said.
Turning a shoulder in, she threw her weight into the flimsy barrier, busting it wide open. As splinters fell in a clatter, she triggered the light beam on her helmet and looked inside. Not what she expected—which was the norm. You never knew what a building’s interior was going to look like for sure until you got a peek at it, and instead of one cavernous space, she and Emilio were in a makeshift hall. Offices, narrow and short-ceilinged, opened off it, the repurposing transforming the warehouse into a den for administrators of some sort. Or telemarketers. Or day traders.
Of course, whatever it was had been a going concern a good ten years ago. Now, the place was uninhabitable.
She and Emilio took opposite sides, and as they progressed, she checked out a lot of old office equipment from the Ally McBeal era. Everything was busted up, water-stained, and covered with grunge, which explained why it hadn’t been looted.
No scent of the fire. No heat. But the air was not clear.
The smell of rot, urine, and mold was dense as a solid.
They made quick time, going through the maze. As they went along, their radios kept them updated, the alternating hiss and talk the kind of thing she took in without being aware of hearing it.
“—wind changing. Northeast.”
“—getting that roof ventilation opened now—”
In the back of her mind, she noted the former, but didn’t worry about it. The blaze had been small, the engine was on it with a good water source charging the lines, and they had plenty of ladder access from above. Plus, the place was so big, she and Emilio were a mile away from the hot spot.
As they came up to a staircase, she stopped. “You take the second floor, I’ll keep going.”
“That’s no protocol.”
“There’s no reason to stay together. The fire’s all the way over there—it’s more efficient.”
“But it’s not—”
“Are you suggesting I can’t handle myself.”
Emilio shook his head. “I guess I’ll take upstairs.”
“I’ll join you soon as I’m through down here. There’s one more corner to go, that’s it.”
As Emilio headed up the tight, jury-rigged steps, she continued on. The farther she went, the more mold compromised the air quality, but she had thirty minutes of oxygen on her back—fifteen if she were exerting herself—and she wasn’t going to waste it on a bad smell.
Up ahead, something flashed across the corridor, the figure scrambling in the darkness.
“Stop!” she called out as she took off after the person.
Anne went left, right, hit a straightaway, her lungs working, thighs churning, equipment bouncing on her body. In the helmet’s jumping beam, the man or woman went in and out of phase with the illumination, a ghost dressed in rags.
They ended up in a shallow room with no door, no window, nothing but the archway they both entered through. The vagrant was muddy as a hound, his hair so matted he had tails growing out of his head. His breathing worried her. Very labored. And that flush, too. He was on something, and probably had pneumonia.
She put her gloved hands up. “I’m not the police. I just want you out so you don’t get hurt—”
“I’ll kill you!” he panted. “I’ll fucking kill you!”
Stepping away, she put one hand on her short axe. “I don’t care what you’re on, or why you’re in here. There’s a fire in the building behind us. Do you know where the ways out are?”
The man nodded.
“Go then. I won’t stop you.”
“I’m not going back to jail!”
“That’s cool. I’m fire, not police. But you have to get out of the building—if only because the cops will show up here soon. If you don’t want to be arrested, leave now. I’m not in your way.”
The vagrant took off, streaking past her and running flat out in his mismatched boot-and-shoe combo. If he had been saveable, she would have played a different card. But she was not going to get hurt trying to convince someone they needed help, and she wasn’t going to waste time vouching for rehab and treatment when there might be somebody who was in medical distress two doors farther down.
Three minutes later, she was at the far end of the building. “First floor cleared,” she said into her radio.
As she came back to the stairwell, she got her initial scent of smoke, that change in wind direction blowing the fire into its source of combustibles instead of away from it—
The frontal impact was so quick and hard, she got blown backward off her boots, her body landing on her tank as gravity took her to the ground. With the air punched out of her lungs, her vision flickered, and she heard another of those vagrants disappear at a dead run.
Rolling off her air cylinder, she braced herself on all fours and looked at the wake of what had hit her. All she caught was a black shape disappearing around the corner.
With a groan, she got back to vertical and took a couple of deep breathers. Pain was registering on her spine, but other than that case of the owies, she was okay.
No reason to go after that addict. He or she had gotten the GTFO memo.
Pivoting around, her beam flashed along the graffiti’d wall and then penetrated the stairwell. Emilio must have flushed the person down from the second floor—
The explosion was so loud, her ears lacked the capacity to accommodate it as sound. Pain was what registered, and covering her head and going into a crouch was both instinctual and part of training. Her immediate thought was meth lab. They’d had something similar the month before, with the chemicals used to make the drug blowing a two-story duplex sky-high.
She grabbed for her radio. “Emilio. Are you clear? Emilio—”
“Roger that,” he said over the connection. “I’m way off in southwest corner, second floor. What was that?”
Thank God, she thought. She did not want to lose him—
The rumble overhead started as a creak and a rattle. It did not stay that way. The collapse was as unexpected as it was fast, all kinds of heavy and hard landing on top of her, an avalanche of God only knew what raining blows on her body.
And then flames were everywhere.
Crushed under debris, pinned to the concrete floor, and without her air mask on, Anne had only one thought.
All her life, she had been determined to follow in her father’s footsteps.
Now it looked as if she might die in the same way he had.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Too political for no reason. This was not a political book and frankly we get enough of that in everything else, don’t really need it in fiction books too. Give it a rest.
Can't wait for the next chapter
Couldn't put it down!
I kept waiting for... anything.
Danny and Anne’s story was surprising to me from beginning to end. I loved it, laughed and cried, and sat on the edge of my seat a lot! You need to read this book!
Wow, this one will really take ta in quite a journey. It deals with some pretty intense and graphic situations, with plenty of heat, a spot if colorful language, a mystery and incredible life choices. But, fans if J.R. Ward will appreciate how mixed up, messed up and real her characters are. Raw is a good word to describe most of the characters and their nerves of steel emotions. She writes these firefighters and cops honestly, as heroic and messed up as most truly are. They are are gritty, wounded and wound as her BDB and Fallen Angels are. And as someone who lives and works with guys and gals lime these, I can say she really gets them, how wonderful and messed up life and the job condition many. If you are not consumed with this group, finding out how the longterm investigation turns out, if they make it to the other side bruised and scarred but alive and functioning if not whole, then you are not hardcore enough to read Ward and her many tarnished characters. I wasn't sure what to expect coming into this one -- it has no supernatural element -- but was willing to give it a try. It is by The Warden after all. Besides, firefighters and cops are superhuman, literally running in when others run out and often achieving the seemingly impossible in the name of protection, service and self-preservation. Glad I did. Except for the wait between books...?? Fans of BDB and all of Ward's series won't regret signing on for another series. This one will get to ya. It's definitely not fir the squeamish or faint of heart. Wow, this one will really take ta in quite a journey. It deals with some pretty intense and graphic situations, with plenty of heat, a spot if colorful language, a mystery and incredible life choices. But, fans if J.R. Ward will appreciate how mixed up, messed up and real her characters are. Raw is a good word to describe most of the characters and their nerves of steel emotions. She writes these firefighters and cops honestly, as heroic and messed up as most truly are. They are are gritty, wounded and wound as her BDB and Fallen Angels are. And as someone who lives and works with guys and gals lime these, I can say she really gets them, how wonderful and messed up life and the job condition many. If you are not consumed with this group, finding out how the longterm investigation turns out, if they make it to the other side bruised and scarred but alive and functioning if not whole, then you are not hardcore enough to read Ward and her many tarnished characters. I wasn't sure what to expect coming into this one -- it has no supernatural element -- but was willing to give it a try. It is by The Warden after all. Besides, firefighters and cops are superhuman, literally running in when others run out and often achieving the seemingly impossible in the name of protection, service and self-preservation. Glad I did. Except for the wait between books...?? Fans of BDB and all of Ward's series won't regret signing on for another series. This one will get to ya. It's definitely not for the squeamish or faint of heart. * ARC received in exchange fir an honest review
J.R. Ward, is obviously an accomplished writer as you can tell by her technique and structure but I feel that her editor failed her with this novel. The writing itself was good. However, there was too much time spent on the trivial details and that left the plot and characters feeling underdeveloped. Subplots within the novel were started but just as abruptly ended without resolution. In addition, there were several tertiary characters introduced with fervor but ended up having no value to the plot. I anticipate that these characters will play significant roles in future books, but the set up and execution here for this novel did not lend to the plot. This novel has the structure to be great but the other noise happening was too distracting. This coupled with the intertwining of not one, but two, dark, moody main characters left me deflated.
Another hit. I hope its a series
Ann Ashburn comes from a family of firefighters and she has the skills and courage to be one of the very best. During a sketchy warehouse fire, Ann makes the decision to leave her partner and venture out on her own. Not only is this completely dangerous, it’s against protocol. When the building begins to collapse, Ann becomes trapped. Luckily, Ann is saved by her fellow firefighter Danny Maguire, but it’s how he saves her that changes them both forever. Spoiler-not-a-spoiler: He cuts her hand off! With an ax! Her hand was completely trapped and there was no other way to get her out before the flames completely took them over. But once Ann is safe, things become incredibly dangerous for Danny. After handing Ann out to the fellow crew members for medical treatment, the building collapses on Danny. When Danny is finally found, his injuries are so severe that no one can understand how he survived. Both Ann and Danny required months and months to recover. Now that Ann has only the one hand, she can no longer work as a firefighter with her crew. Unable to leave the profession completely, she throws herself into her new career-arson investigator. Nearly a year later, Ann is investigating a series of suspicious fires that forces her to cross paths with her old crew, and most importantly, Danny. This book was everything I was hoping it would be! Ward writes very strong female characters I really enjoyed Ann’s character. Ann is smart, tough, resourceful, and is willing to work to get what she wants. She’s fearless as an investigator and refuses to be intimidated. On her first investigation, she rescues a stray dog that is hurt and hungry. I love the way the relationship between Ann and Soot, the pup, is written. Danny’s character is a little predictable-tough but injured guy is medicating himself with alcohol and OTC meds. After Ann’s accident, the two of them don’t speak for nearly a year but she is constantly on his mind. He becomes more and more dangerous and is constantly putting himself in danger. With that said, the way he is with Ann completely redeems all that. He is never pushy, never overbearing, and he completely appreciates Ann for her strengths and her mind and not just for her amazing abs.
Ward knows how to write romance that's for sure. Consumed has everything you need in a romance novel. Romance, steam, hot guys, and a great heroine. What it has that sets it apart from other books though is the great storyline underneath the romance. This story is about fire fighters and what they go through. It doesn't sugarcoat the hard stuff and I appreciated the author taking the time to really lay it all out on the line. I have learned that Ward can go from vampires and angels to real life situations without missing a beat. My favorite thing about this story though was Anne. She was fierce and not afraid to confront what she had been dealt. I like that Ward always writes a strong female and Anne is no exception. She can hold her own in a male dominated field and I loved reading her story. I can't wait for more.
I love the story and the characters. it was true to life. No superhuman feats from real people . kept your interest. The family Dynamics were true too the out side see,s a hero the family lives a different way. but they can change and do better. the twists we're good and it ended well but not all perfect like I said more like real life.
Loved this book. Couldn't put it down!
***I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley for my honest and unbiased opinion*** A book that started out as fire unfortunately fizzled towards the middle. The Good, The Bad, and Everything in Between: What I love about JR Ward's books are her amazing characters. I love the complexity of her tortured heroes and in most cases the heroes' heroines are their equals in every way. In this book, Danny is a typical Ward hero. He's tall, massively built, good looking, and brooding (with good reason.) Anne is very much Danny's equal and in many ways she's just as tortured as he is, which adds a layer of complexity not usually found in romances. Many romance books that feature a tortured hero has a total opposite in their love interest to balance the drama of the story. In Consumed, because both characters are tortured, the book could have gotten bogged down with seriousness but Ward inserts some lighthearted moments as well which helped balance the book, Anne's rescue dog for example. I love when author's add dogs to their stories. So, I love me a good romantic suspense and this one did have some suspense but honestly it wasn't until the end when I truly felt anxious for Danny and Anne. I like being on the edge of my seat in anticipation of what will happen, and the longer I'm there the better, but I never really had those feelings during this book. It might have be more my issue than Ward's because I never really warmed up to Anne. Her reasons for not being with Danny were mere excuses, one right after another. Her first being they were both firefighters in the same firehouse and dating would be near impossible as she was struggling to be considered just one of the guys. After the opener of the book, which I thought was stupendous by the way, we can see that particular excuse could no longer be used. Anne just found another....and another. The romance lacked for me as well because there was not a significant amount of actual romance on the page. If you read the prequels (which is something I would recommend as a need to rather than a suggestion of maybe) then you know Anne and Danny had a quickie, one night stand...or rather one hour stand as there was no cuddling or sleeping or whatever after it was over. Slam Bam Anne is gone. See ya Danny Boy. And all Danny can think is how much he adores Anne. Not only did she do it once but she did it twice and Danny let her just hoping she'd come around and want him as much as he wanted her. Anne was just a cold character I never connected to but then when it comes to JR Ward's book, it's all about the hero for me. Thank goodness I was able to connect with Danny. In a Nutshell: Not a terrible book but honestly not one of her better ones. I'll continue with the series though because...well....it's Ward. 3.5 stars rounded down to 3
In all fairness this was my first book by Ward. In all honesty, it probably is my last. Perhaps because I'm not familiar with her style (as it seems others are) For me this book was filled with cliche's. Danny, the manwhore who has real feelings for Anne. These two were toxic to the core and I just couldn't get on board with them at all. I wasn't invested in them and to make it worse, I didn't like them at all. There was no romance, no story and just pretty much nothing. For me this was a book of words and that was it. About 25 pages in I knew I wasn't going to finish this book. I was able to just skim through it and still know, that for me, this book just was not going to happen. Sadly it happens with some books and this was one of them.
Very good story. Who doesn’t like hot firefighters? Unless you have read the novella that comes before the story, it is a little confusing, but you can figure it out. Danny and Anne are very believable characters and the decision that Danny has to make concerning Anne is heartbreaking. Don’t want to give a spoiler, but it’s all good. Looking forward to read the next installment.
Another good read! Can’t wait to see where this series is going to go.