Book Review: All Fired up by Dylan Newton

About the Book:

Title: All Fired Up

Author: Dylan Newton

Page Length: 368

Publication Date: May 17, 2022

Publisher: Forever

Synopsis: After one wild night together, two complete opposites plan to stay firmly in the friend zone, but life has other plans in this delightful romantic comedy, perfect for fans of Emily Henry and Abby Jimenez.

As a successful book publicist, Imani Lewis works night and day to promote her authors.  It’s her dream job, but she’s become a total workaholic. So when her grandmother invites her to stay for the summer as she recovers from surgery, Imani happily agrees. But being back in the same small town as her one-night stand may not be quite the relaxing break she envisioned… 

Zander Matthews wakes up every day determined to enjoy the present because he knows from his time in the Marines that tomorrow isn’t guaranteed. But he’s never gotten over the beautiful woman who blew through town a year ago, then disappeared. And he doesn’t want to be hurt again. So they agree to a deal: he’ll help Imani fix up her grandmother’s house as long as they stay firmly in the friend zone.

Whether it’s repairing tiles in his ceramics studio, dodging nosy neighbors, or soothing the most obnoxious parrot ever, Zander never fails to make Imani laugh. And soon their friendly banter is turning ever flirtier. But since Imani’s stay is temporary and Zander can’t be tied to anything beyond the most tenuous plans, will she be able to handle it when things get all fired up?

LINKS:   Goodreads   |    Amazon   |  Book Depository

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My Review:

A touching, funny, and romantic story, All Fired Up follows Imani as she takes the summer out of work to help her grandmother recover from surgery. She’s also excited to spend some time with her pregnant best friend and help prepare for the big day. However, Imani knows she’ll eventually have to face Zander, her best friend-s brother-in-law and a man she had a glorious weekend with almost a year ago.

Zander hasn’t stopped thinking about Imani since they spent the weekend together, and when he hears she’s spending the summer in town, he sees the perfect opportunity to convince her to give them a chance. Can Zander prove that their connection is worth exploring?

The story is told from both Imani and Zander’s perspectives, which I really enjoyed. I always like when you get the thoughts and feelings of the protagonists, and having both Imani and Zander’s points of view adds a lot of layers to their characters. You can really understand how deeply Zander feels for Imani and how confused and torn Imani is.

Imani is a devoted friend, a loyal granddaughter, and she always keeps herself busy, but she is not entirely happy with her life.  She puts a lot of pressure on herself, and she has a high pressure job as a book publicist. A workaholic at a crossroads in her career, Imani has a lot of decisions to make. I found her to be such a relatable character. She seems torn in what she wants, which leads to much indecisiveness. She also struggles with grief over the loss of her mother, and she often cleans when she’s stressed. That is so me!!

Zander is the total opposite of Imani. He lives in the present, doesn’t worry about his future, and doesn’t take himself too seriously. He is always quick with a joke and has a disarming way about him. I love his philosophies, his gregarious and generous demeanor, and that there’s so much more to him than most people see at face value, which Amani learns pretty quickly.  Though he’s really wise in some ways, he is a bit immature in his refusal to prepare for the future. And though Imani is really responsible and hard-working, she often fails to embrace the present and live in the moment. I like that this couple helps each other see that there can be a balance.

The chemistry between Zander and Imani is off the charts!  They have so many romantic, and several steamy, moments, and I love the connection they share.  Zander always goes out of his way to show Imani how much he cares for her, and his thoughtful, sweet, and romantic gestures are positively swoon-worthy.  I also love that he lets her set the pace of their relationship. It’s like every decision he makes takes her feelings into consideration, and that is so romantic.  I love his simple gestures as well as his grand ones, and when he used my favorite Bob Ross quote when talking about art, he officially became my new book boyfriend.  

I love how Zander and Imani learn from each other – him to be more committed to his future and stability, and her to follow her dreams and passions.  They balance each other well, and the way that they think about each other’s life philosophies, learn form them, and grow because of them, shows how much they respect, admire, and love each other.  They connect on such a deep level, and I was so rooting for them to find a happy ending together. Plus, they have some really funny scenes together, they have a lot of fun in each other’s company, and they share many of the same feelings about things that have happened to them in the past, which helps bring them together even more.

Something else I really liked was the wonderful relationships between Zander and his brothers, as well as her friendship with Kate and her relationship with her grandmother, Gigi.  Gigi is fantastic!  So funny and discerning, she loves her granddaughter, and their banter is hysterical, as is her foul-mouthed parrot, Lancelot.  That parrot is equal parts annoying and endearing!  Zander’s relationship with his brothers is also wonderful.  The men are always there for each other, and I love the strong messages about family solidarity, the strength of friendship, and the healing effects of unconditional love.  

The story also addresses serious issues like PTSD, survivor’s guilt, grief, body image issues, and mental health issues. The way the author approaches them is really relatable and realistic, which I liked. I could relate to a lot of Imani’s feelings about her mother, her stresses at work, and her mental health issues. Her insomnia, depression, panic attacks, and fears all resonated with me, and I could empathize with her conflicted feelings and struggles.

This is a great book for readers who enjoy rom-coms or contemporary romance. It’s charming, funny, and touching, and the romance is positively swoon-tactic.  It’s the kind of book where, when you’re reading, you find yourself smiling at the shenanigans and the humor and the amazing relationships, both old and new.

Special thanks to NetGalley and Forever Publishing for providing me with a copy of the book.  All thoughts are my own.


Favorite Parts:

  • The romance!
  • The messages.
  • The relationships.

Favorite Lines:

Working with clay is much life life. If things become off-balance, you don’t have to throw it away. You pick it up and start over.

They’d both been the one to survive, unscathed. And that shit left scars.

Life is less complicated if you tell the unvarnished truth and don’t try and make every moment a perfect version of itself.

While it’s okay not to be okay, you can’t ignore your mental health.

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