Monday, November 1, 2010

Review: Wild Heat by Bella Andre

Title: Wild Heat
Series: Hot Shots: Men of Fire
Author: Bella Andre
Read copy: eBook
Published: April 28, 2009
Publisher: Dell
ISBN: 044033845X
ISBN-13: 9780440338451

He's a hotshot firefighter addicted to risk.
She's the sultry beauty he never saw coming.

Maya Jackson doesn't sleep with strangers. Until the night grief sent her to the nearest bar and into the arms of the most explosive lover she's ever had. Six months later, the dedicated arson investigator is coming face-to-face with him again. Gorgeous, grinning Logan Cain. Her biggest mistake. Now her number one suspect in a string of deadly wildfires.

Risking his life on a daily basis is what gets Logan up in the morning. As the leader of the elite Tahoe Pines Hotshot Crew, he won't back down from a blaze—or from beautiful, lethal Maya Jackson. She may have seduced him with her tears and her passion, but it'll be a cold day in hell before Logan lets down his guard again. But when Maya's life is threatened, his natural-born-hero instincts kick in, and Logan vows to protect the woman sworn to bring him down. And as desire reignites, nothing—not the killer fire nor the killer hot on their trail—can douse the flames....

My rating:

Maya Jackson’s brother is dead. One day he was there, the next he died in a fire. She comes to Lake Tahoe to clear out his house, but the grief is too strong and she needs a few drinks to help her get through the ordeal. The bar is closed, but the Good Samaritan inside lets her in, pours her a drink, and lets her have her way with his mouth, tongue, fingers, and body...But before things escalate, she bursts into tears and runs off.

Six months later Maya is back in Lake Tahoe investigating the possible arson that started the wildfire blazing near town. Her prime suspect, thanks to two witness reports and an anonymous tip, is the local hotshot (wildfire firefighter) Logan Cain. And she’s just in time to see him and his two buddies escape a blowout. But nothing can prepare her for the shock when he removes his helmet. The hunky firefighter is none other than the hunky stranger she almost did the vertical mambo with in the bar six months ago. The same man she was unable to forget.

The same goes for him. The brief interlude in the bar has ruined Logan for any other woman, so when the object of his fantasies yet again stands before him, he’s more than glad to see her. A little less when she tells him her true purpose in Lake Tahoe, puts him on suspension, and starts digging in his not-so-stellar past.
He’s a firefighter to the core, his men are out there risking their lives, he needs to help put the wildfire out, and all that stands in his way is this sexy woman intent on proving him guilty.

Lucky for him, a few strange incidents prove the exact opposite. And that Maya’s life is also in peril. Now the two must race against time and against the weather to find the true arsonist, live to tell the tale, and put the fire out while they’re at it.

One word — FANTASTIC!

This was a complete impulse buy, because I loved the firefighter theme and the cover, but boy am I glad I did it. I can’t think of a single thing that bothered me much in this novel, which is a rarity indeed.

The premise was great, (almost) perfectly executed, the story flowed flawlessly, the pacing was great, the characters even greater, but what struck me the most was the author’s uncanny ability to tap into my mind and evoke such vivid images with her words.
The contrast between the sunny, relaxing Lake Tahoe brimming with tourists and the raging force of nature the wildfire presented. The chilling effects of literally seeing that wall of fire in my mind’s eye. The similarities between the fire blazing in the forest and between Maya and Cain. The selfless actions of hotshots risking their lives to save others.

Though the story, the characters, the plot, the romance, the passion, the suspense/thriller were great and awesomely-presented, they still seemed to take second place to the true protagonist of this story—the raging inferno of the wildfire. Absolutely amazing.

Yet the hero and heroine held their own against that central character. They both had emotional baggage, yet it didn’t hamper them down (much). And Maya, clearly the reluctant party in this duo, despite her fears and reservation didn’t strike me as annoying. I actually understood where she came from, and shared her heartbreak a little.
While Logan was simply perfect. A true hero, a hotshot with integrity, pride, and passion, and hunky eye-candy to boot. What more could you want in a romance hero?

I didn’t even mind the "quickness" of their romance. It somehow worked with the story, twining seamlessly with everything going on around the two. With the threat of the fire and the deadly peril surrounding them they sort of didn’t have a choice but fall for each other, to prove they’re still alive (as they both thought in one scene).

There are a few reviewers here that are a bit iffy on the subject of the villain. I never got my WTF?! moment when the identity of the baddie was revealed. The two scenes with the villain stalking Logan’s cabin were clues enough for me to pinpoint who might be one of the culprits, I just didn’t think it could be one and the same. So it was still a surprise, though not in the what-the-hell-just-happened kind of way.
And kudos for the villain’s twistiness and props.

This was one hell of a book, a great starter to the series, and a definite keeper. Only 4 days left until the second hotshot story is released. Don’t you love the "preorder" button? *grin*


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