Hard-edged fireman Dean Mulligan has never been a big fan of Christmas. Twinkly lights and sparkly tinsel can’t brighten the memories of too many years spent in ramshackle foster homes. Although he’s established himself as one of the top firefighters at San Gabriel Station 1, he doesn’t think he’s good enough for someone like gorgeous Lizzie.
Lizzie Breen is used to fighting—from her alpha male brothers, who try to smother her in the name of safety, to the life-threatening childhood illness she overcame. She knows what she and Mulligan feel for each other is a lot more than a fling, but she can’t get him to see that. The only gift Lizzie wants to give him this season is her love, but he’s not willing to accept it.
When Mulligan is trapped in the burning wreckage of a holiday store, a Christmas angel arrives to open his eyes. But is it too late? This Christmas, it’ll take an angel, a determined woman in love, and the entire Bachelor Firemen crew to make him believe … it is indeed a wonderful life.
Source: egalley from publisher Avon Impulse/Edelweiss (thanks so much!)
Dean Mulligan hates Christmas. I KNOW! What’s up with that? Well, it turns out that he has good reasons due to the fact that his childhood was littered with abuse from a stepfather, a drug addict mom, and time spent in foster care.
When Mulligan gets trapped in a store in a burning strip mall for Christmas, he manifests his own Clarence the Angel (from It’s a Wonderful Life) in the form of his former girlfriend, Lizzie Breen (sister of Fred from The Night Belongs to Fireman).
Lizzie and Mulligan are an unusual pair because he grew up the way he did, and she grew up in a loving family. Lizzy has four overprotective, older brothers, though she can handle them. The problem with Lizzie and Mulligan’s relationship is that Lizzie puts no limits on where their relationship can go, but Mulligan thinks that Lizzie deserves better than someone like him. So, like an ass, he breaks up with her.
Dream Lizzie uses Mulligan’s down time waiting to be rescued to show him ways in which his being there for someone made their life a little better, a la It’s a Wonderful Life.
I am a sucker for It’s a Wonderful Life and Scrooge, so any time there is a book, episode, or movie that uses this trope, I am all over it. This adaptation was really very well done. Mulligan is all kinds of tough and untouchable, but he is completely helpless when it comes to Lizzie. Their relationship, the little bit we saw in flashbacks, was hot and sweet. I do love when an alpha man falls hard.
I generally don’t like flashbacks and in this case, with Mulligan’s abusive history, I was particularly afraid that the flashbacks would be depressing, but I was pleasantly surprised by them. The flashbacks focused less on the bad things and more on positive things that came from Mulligan’s past.
I liked Lizzie because she was obviously in love with Mulligan, but she wasn’t pining away. She was at a place where she was ready to move on with her life, though she still tried to find a place for Mulligan in it. Lizzie’s relationship with her brother, Fred, and the other firefighters on the scene was cute and added another dimension to her and the story.
This is a novella, so it’s about half the size of a regular novel. It was just the perfect size for the story and it really read quickly. I’m sad that this is the last of the Bachelor Fireman series, but I did love seeing old faces and catching up with former MCs. I did hope that there would be an epilogue that showed Lizzie and Mulligan in the not so distant future, but it ended on a good note. We are also introduced to a future hero from Bernard’s next series about baseball players and I’m in like already.
Bottom line: If you’re looking for a quick, fun, sexy Christmas story with a happy ending, It’s a Wonderful Fireman will make all of your Christmas dreams come true.