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The Firefighter’s Dilemma by Mariah Ankenman is a Love and Romance Festival pick #romcom #giveaway

Title: The Firefighter’s Dilemma

Author: Mariah Ankenman

Genre: Romance: Romcom, contemporary

Book Blurb:

Firefighter Stephanie Díaz won’t let anyone stop her from becoming the youngest female fire chief in Denver. Not the jerks who’d like to see an ambitious Latine woman admit defeat. Not the ultra-bro firefighters she has to work with. And definitely not her ridiculously hot and often infuriating, fellow firefighter Eli Ward. Now Stephanie has the chance to prove to everyone that she’s got what it takes…but there’s one helluva catch.

The Battle of the First Responders is a live, balls-out competition in the secluded Rockies and Stephanie has been selected—along with Ward as her partner. On the line are their reputations, a whole lot of cash…and the promotion they’ve been fighting for. Teaming up is the perfect chance to finally settle their never ending one-upmanship, but it also exposes the smoldering attraction they’ve held at bay.

Now their days are fueled by a high-stakes, adrenaline-fueled competition. Their nights are filled with sizzling deep kisses that steal her breath away. But this sexy little fling is about to set off a five-alarm blaze she can’t control…


“Shit, when did it get so cold?” Ward rubbed his hands up and down his arms, the muscles of his biceps straining against the tight black T-shirt he wore.

She rolled her eyes. Ward was probably the kid who wore shorts to school in a snowstorm.

“Why didn’t you bring a coat?” She smugly zipped her own up.

“It’s summer.”

She scoffed. “It’s Colorado.” Seasons meant nothing here.

He grumbled under his breath as they arrived at her car. Slipping into the driver’s seat, she crossed her fingers as she turned the key. The engine sputtered, but it did come to life, so she counted that as a win.

Ward chuckled. “Díaz, you need a new car.”

Like she didn’t know that. “Says the man who is currently freezing his ass off without a jacket.”

“You been staring at my ass?” He grinned.

“Shut up.” She glared at him. No, she hadn’t been. If said ass happened to be in her line of vision whenever he rose from the table tonight, it wasn’t her fault. “And I hope you’ll be more prepared for the competition. Did you go over the list of necessities they sent?”

He rolled his shoulders back, his large frame seeming to take up all the room in her tiny car.

“Don’t sweat it. I got clothes, my utility knife, condoms.”

Her hands jerked on the wheel, the car veering slightly before she righted it. “Condoms? Why the hell would you need those? This is a competition show, not a dating show.”

“I know, but condoms have a million uses. Especially in the wild. You can use them to hold things for waterproofing, carry water inside them, start a fire with them, even turn them into a slingshot. You never know when one will come in handy.”

All logical reasons. Some she’d even known of herself, but she was surprised Ward knew so many uses for a condom that didn’t involve the intended purpose. She figured a guy like him, one that constantly flirted with any woman in a five-mile radius, would carry condoms for only one reason. But, once again, Ward proved to be deeper than she gave him credit for. Which was good, because she really wanted, no, needed to win this thing. She had to prove to the chief she was the right person for the lieutenant position. She couldn’t let Ward get in her way.

So why couldn’t she get the image of Ward rolling a condom on himself out of her head? It was so vivid she could have sworn it was a damn memory or a premonition.

What the hell?!

She shook the thought off. What was in that beer she had? Where were all these weird vibes about Ward coming from tonight? She would not be having sex with Eli Ward. No way, no how. They were coworkers, friends, and above all, fighting for the same promotion. She was not screwing up her chances of achieving her life’s goal because she was in a dry spell and he happened to be a decently attractive man in her vicinity.

She saw him grin out of the corner of her eye.

“But should I happen to meet a lovely and willing lady on this trip—”

“No!” As she pulled to a stop at a red light, she whipped her head to the side to glare at him. “Do not fuck this up by screwing around, Ward. Figuratively or literally. This isn’t a vacation or a dating show; it’s a competition. One we need to win.”

“Okay, Díaz.” He held up his hands in surrender. “I was just messing with you. I’m not looking to hook up with anyone. I swear.”

Anyone on the show or anyone at all?

She shook her head, dismissing the thought. Didn’t matter. Ward could do whatever and whomever he liked. No skin off her nose.

A horn honked behind them. Ward’s grin widened, the dimple in his cheek appearing. “Light’s green.”

Scowling, she turned her gaze back to the road, suppressing the urge to flip off the driver behind them, and started to drive again. Her palms were hot and clammy against the steering wheel. She was far too aware of the man sitting inches away and how overblown her reaction to his casual remark had been. Dammit, she needed to get a grip on herself. She didn’t like this new weirdness regarding Ward.

“I couldn’t care less who you hook up with, but just try to keep it in your pants for the next two weeks,” she said, trying her best to sound blasé. “We don’t need any drama on top of the competition.”

He snorted. “Have you ever seen a reality show, Díaz? They live off drama. But I swear the condoms I’m bringing are for strategic purposes only. Since we don’t know what we’re heading into, I figure better safe than sorry. Who knows, maybe I can even work this into some kind of sponsorship thing.”

He chuckled, but it was her turn to snort.

“I’m serious,” he said. “A million and one survival uses for condoms. They can hit a whole new demographic. Their sales will soar.”

“Pretty sure the condom companies aren’t hurting for sales.”

He ignored her logic, leaning closer to her as he spoke in a deep, booming voice: “Condoms—wrap your willy and your matches.”

She groaned at his ridiculous imitation of a spokesperson.

“Condoms,” he continued. “They can stop a drip and cover your tip.”

“Oh my god, Ward. Stop.” A snort left her as she couldn’t hold in the laughter spilling out from her lips. “That’s a terrible slogan.”

“Condoms—they’ll get any job done from fixing your truck to helping you fu—”

She slapped a hand over his mouth, stopping the outrageous words flying out of his lips. Her eyes watered as his weird brand of humor got the better of her, body heaving as she tried to contain her amusement.

Buy Links (including Goodreads and BookBub):

What’s your favorite part about being a romance author?

Making people happy. Every time a reader says I brightened their day, or my book helped them through a rough patch, it makes me remember why I write about love and hope. I’m so grateful my books are a safe space for people.

Here’s my tip to add romance to your love life:

Enjoy every moment of happiness no matter how small. See a pretty rainbow? Let yourself smile while staring at it. Coffee tastes yummy today? Don’t be embarrassed to make an appreciative sound. Enjoy the thing that bring you joy, and you’ll be surprised how romantic life becomes.

Giveaway –

One lucky reader will win a $75 Amazon US or Canada gift card.

Open internationally. You must have a valid Amazon US or Amazon CA account to win.

Runs February 1 – 28, 2023.

Drawing will be held on March 1, 2023.

Author Biography:

Bestselling author Mariah Ankenman lives in the beautiful Rocky Mountains with her two rambunctious children and loving spouse who is her own personal spell checker when her dyslexia gets the best of her.

Mariah loves to lose herself in a world of words. Her favorite thing about writing is when she can make someone’s day a little brighter with one of her books. To learn more about Mariah and her books, visit her website or follow her on social media or sign up for her newsletter

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1 Comment

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N. N. Light
Feb 27, 2023

Thank you, Mariah, for sharing your book in our Love and Romance Book Festival!

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