Author: Nora Roberts
Read copy: Paperback
Published: April 2011
Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
Little else in life is as dangerous as fire jumping. Flying past towering pillars of smoke, parachuting down to the edge of an all-consuming blaze, shoveling and sawing for hours upon hours, days at a time, all to hold the line and push back against the raw power of Mother Nature.
But there's also little else as thrilling—at least to Rowan Tripp. The Missoula smoke jumpers are among the most exclusive firefighting squads in the nation, and the job is in Rowan's blood: her father is a legend in the field. She's been fighting fires since her eighteenth birthday. At this point, returning to the wilds of Montana for the season feels like coming home—even with reminders of the partner she lost last season still lingering in the air.
Fortunately, this year's rookie crop is one of the strongest ever—and Gulliver Curry's one of the best. He's also a walking contradiction, a hotshot firefighter with a big vocabulary and a winter job at a kids' arcade. He came to Missoula to follow in the footsteps of Lucas "Iron Man" Tripp, yet he's instantly more fascinated by his hero's daughter. Rowan, as a rule, doesn't hook up with other smoke jumpers, but Gull is convinced he can change her mind. And damn if he doesn't make a good case to be an exception to the rule.
Everything is thrown off balance, though, when a dark presence lashes out against Rowan, looking to blame someone for last year's tragedy. Rowan knows she can't complicate things with Gull—any distractions in the air or on the ground could be lethal. But if she doesn't find someone she can lean on when the heat gets intense, her life may go down in flames.
Nora Roberts sure can do her job right. Well-researched, well-written, wonderfully paced...This review I’m attempting to write can never do the book justice.
It was typical Nora. The “picture painting” was awesome, I really felt like I was there, in the middle of the wildfire, in the black, waiting for the siren to scream, walking the base alongside Rowan and Gull, running on the track...It all felt real, from the flaws and imperfections of the characters, the banter (God, how I loved the banter), the danger, the thrill...
Not many authors have the ability to write a story that can suck me in like this one did, and I loved every single moment of it. It was long, but I actually wanted it to be longer. I never wanted to stop reading.
It wasn’t just for the romance, which is the main reason why I love romantic suspense. Don’t get me wrong, Rowan and Gull (and even Lucas and Ella) had a wonderful romance going, explosive tension, gripping attraction, smokin’ hot passion...And they were great together as well as separately. I loved Rowan and her snarkiness, her sarcasm, her “butch” attitude, and I adored Gull and his idiosyncrasies, his vocabulary and his ability to use it, his seemingly bottomless well of seemingly unimportant knowledge, his protectiveness, his sense of humor...
What this story was about, almost leaving the realm of romantic suspense, was the smoke jumpers and their love/hate relationship with her, the fire, the dragon. Because you have to love it a little to be good at what these men and women do. And I’m talking real people, here, not fictitious ones.
Nora Roberts made me appreciate these daredevils even more. Putting their lives on the line to preserve the wilderness, save lives even at the cost of their own. I’ve always admired firefighters, but these smoke jumpers, boy, they’re in a league of their own. Can you imagine hurling yourself into the fire? It must be a mix of excitement, dread, terror, exhilaration...
And Ms. Roberts, with her book, delved a little deeper into the “would-be” psyche of such characters, revealing what might make them tick, their secret love of the chase, of the jump, of the danger...of the grueling work it went into “killing the bitch”.
Gosh, I really loved it. So loved it, in fact, it took me quite a while to finish, since I kept going back, re-reading some scenes, reliving the thrill.
Enough with the inadequate review. Go read this book!
Favorite quotes...(in order of appearance)
"What was that technique you were using on those bastards?"
"An ancient form called kicking ass."
"Matt's brother and the blond cook spent a good portion of last season tangling the sheets. Historically, said cook tangled many other sheets with dexterity and aplomb."
"It's a polite way to say she banged often, well and without too much discrimination."
"That also sounded polite."
"I was raised well."
"When the going gets tough, the tough eat ribs."
"That has not yet been put to the test. I got my fourth-degree black belt this winter. When I make martial arts noises, thousands flee in terror. Don't test me."
"Can you hear that? It's my knees knocking."
"They're wise to fear me."
"You are wise as well as short."
"I can also break bricks with my bare hands."
"That's a handy skill if you ever find yourself walled up in the basement of an abandoned house by a psychopath."
"Getting a room's not always enough. Sometimes you gotta close the door."
"Let's go have lotsa drunk sex before it hits."
"'Kay. Drunk sex for everybody!"
"It's called male bonding. You'll never get it. I believe women are as capable as men, deserve equal pay—and that one day, should be sooner than later, in my opinion, the right woman can and should be leader of the free world. But you can't understand the male bonding rituals any more than men can understand why the vast majority of women are obsessed with shoes and other footwear."
"I'm damned if I'm going to be eaten by a bear when I'm naked."
"I'm sure it's a more pleasant experience dressed."
"I had to get by the flower beds he's planted, the flowers in vases, candles, the potpourri in the powder room—"
"Mother of God! Potpourri in the powder room. We need to get a posse together ASAP, go get him. He can be deprogrammed. Don't lose hope."
"I have to get used to it—to her, but she's put a light in him so I think I'm going to be a fan."
"You're a stand-up gal, Swede."
"If she screws him up, I'll peel the skin off her ass with a dull razor blade.""
"I want lots and lots of sex."
"You really are the woman of my dreams."
"First round, wet shower sex, after we scrape off a few layers of the Alaskan tundra, then a short and satisfying lunch break. Then a second round of make-the-mattress-sing sex."
"I feel a tear of gratitude and awe forming in the corner of my eyes. Don't think less of me."