Overall Grade: 4.5 ⭐️
If you’re a Melanie Harlow fan OR have read her before, keep scrolling. You are fully aware of the storytelling genius of Melanie Harlow. Go. Buy. Grab Ignite. It’s everything you love about her stories. This review is for anyone who has yet to read her AND/or Melanie Harlow herself. I expect that she doesn’t read her own reviews, but I’m probably wrong too.
In simplistic, reductive terms, Ignite is a small-town romance between a twenty-something young woman/ post-college graduate who is trying to figure out her next steps in life AND a divorced dad of two precocious young girls whose life hasn’t been the easiest and has made him fairly pessimistic. While he loves his girls, to him, there will be no fairy tales in his life. Dex and his girls move in next door to Winnie, the sweet, kind heroine. At first glance, there is a clear attraction between these two, but there is also an age gap, and Mr. Pessimism initially only sees her as someone too young and idealistic for him. Thankfully, his daughters along with some serious $exual chemistry bring these two together, but it’s a bit of a rocky road with denials of true feelings as its pathway.
Melanie Harlow is imprinted all over this story. The charm she infuses in her characters along with the simplicity of her story makes for a read that is mostly sweet with a big side of $exy. And Dex, a former SEAL, is one of her more aggressively spirited in the bedroom heroes. He’s fairly dirty in contrast to the heroes of Cloverleigh Farms, and it contrasts nicely with the innocence of Winnie.
The true catnip of Ignite, though, is the contrast of their personalities. This is your grump/sunshine trope, yet don’t mistake Winnie for naivete. Yes, she’s younger than Dex, and she’s still solidifying her path. Yet, the issue isn’t that she doesn’t know what she wants. She does. Instead, it’s the societal expectations for someone her age that she shouldn’t want to be a young wife and mother. Pushing back against that while finding her space in the expanded Sawyer family world causes her confusion. But make no mistake, Harlow has crafted her with tenacity, mature introspection, and drive. While she is young compared to Dex’s gruff age, she teaches him vulnerability and honesty in relationships. The evolution of their relationship is filled with sweetness, steam, pitfalls, and happily ever afters, and it is the best part of this book (besides the characters of Hattie and Luna who inflect the true humor into Harlow’s story.)
Ignite is the perfect weekend read. The only criticism I have is the predictability of Harlow’s tropes, but that’s also why her dedicated readers (readers like me) continue to inhale her books. There is the knowledge that you will adore her characters and their story, and by the end, they will have left your heart bigger than when it started.
In love and romance,