Well, I am more than pleasantly surprised that I am rating this book a solid 4.5 stars. I found a contemporary romance I really enjoyed, plus this book is part of a series all written by the same author, so I get five more books to read when the time comes (after reading down some of the Great and Powerful TBR pile).
The first 45 pages were a strain to get through (hence my post from earlier in the week and why I took half a star off the rating); the heroine, Karla Kennedy had a major attitude towards small town life and was a snobby "foodie". Dylan MacDonald, the hero, was not quite alpha nor was he beta - he was somewhere in the muddy middle and so lacked depth in the beginning. It took a heavy dose of togetherness for me to root for the two of them, but dang the author pulled it off with humor and depth. For example, the scene where the couple dances the tango to The Proclaimers song "500 Miles." Or the moment where heroine catches the big fish and happily poses with her fish for a picture.
The big conflict wasn't between the couple, it was between the couple and Mother Nature. I loved the side characters that made up the small town of Gordon Falls, and they all came together with the couple to survive and help each other through the flood. The best side character was Violet; not only did she encourage (but did not meddle) the couple in their relationship, she got her own romance with Karla's grandfather. The elderly couple were so cute.
This book could be summed up in one word: natural. Natural feelings, natural conversations (adults adulting! see contemporary romance authors, it can happen and make the story work!), natural beauty. Karla was described as pretty, but not in an over the top way; ditto for Dylan's physical hotness. Just really authentic characterization.
Also, this book is inspirational (Christianity is the religion featured in this book), but unlike so many books with the label, the use of religion in the book was done in a way that was natural and not self-serving. Saying grace before eating a meal, going to church, and praying for the safety of others during the flood or when in need of guidance - all the times prayer was used was effective in proving that faith was a part of the characters' lives and not stuck in the story for show or to teach a lesson. Preachy scale was at 0.
I am so very happy I gave this book a chance after that horrible first 45 pages. Small-Town Fireman is the 6th and final book in the Harlequin Love Inspired Gordon Falls series. I will look at reading more of these books in the second half of the year.