>> Wednesday, July 13, 2011
The number-one New York Times-bestselling author delves into the world of elite firefighters who thrive on danger and adrenaline-men and women who wouldn't know how to live life if it wasn't on the edge.Rowan Tripp is an experienced smoke jumper, a firefighter who parachutes into wildfires. Wildfire seasons are always busy for her, but none have been as eventful as this one is proving to be. First, there's the new recruit, Gulliver Curry, who's making her question her rule to never get involved with a teammate.
There's little as thrilling as firefighting-at least to Rowan Tripp. The Missoula smoke jumpers are in Rowan's blood: her father is a legend. 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.
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.
Everything is thrown off balance 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 mean the end-but if she doesn't find someone she can lean on, she may not make it through the summer...
But there's also something going on that's as scary as a potential relationship with Gull, but not quite as potentially rewarding. At the end of the previous season, Rowan's jump partner made a mistake while operating his parachute and died. His girlfriend Dolly, one of the team's cooks, blamed Rowan. She left her job after trying to attack Rowan, but now she's back and determined to make trouble. And soon that trouble involves murders, sabotage and arson.
Each new Nora Roberts single title is a guaranteed treat. I know even before I start them that I'm going to be able to fall into them and enjoy every minute I'm reading and resent every minute I'm not. Yes, some are better than others, but in the past years, I've enjoyed each and every single one of them.
Chasing Fire was therefore not a surprise. I got exactly what I was expecting, and since what I was expecting was a strong heroine, a lovely hero, a satisfying, healthy relationship, well-drawn secondary characters and a lot of information about a fascinating occupation or setting I knew nothing about, that's a good thing.
Rowan's a vintage Nora Roberts heroine, in that as a group, these women are noted for being hard workers. They tend to love what they do and dive into it with all they have, even if they exhaust themselves. Still, I have to say, Rowan makes them all look like sluggish wimps. I was just amazed that any human being could not only put up with such backbreaking, stressful, dangerous and exhausting work, but positively thrive while doing it. I ended feeling a bit tired myself, and that was just from reading about her job!
Rowan's tough and can be a bit prickly, but she's also perfectly happy to embrace the pleasures of life. And the main one in this book is Gull. Gull (strange name notwithstanding... I mean, what sort of name is Gulliver Curry?) is lovely, dreamy enough that he runs the risk of being a bit too perfect. He's got money, but he still does this work, which I think I've established is pretty difficult and takes a lot out of anyone doing it. He absolutely gets Rowan and loves exactly what many men would find problematic. I loved that. He has absolutely no problem with Rowan being not only the more experienced of the two with their job, but also the person in charge in quite a few of their missions. He does not feel threatened about it. He's actually attracted to Rowan's extreme competence.
The stuff going on around Rowan and Gull was also, for the most part, really good and satisfying. The smoke jumping is really interesting, and there's also some excellent secondary characters. I especially enjoyed the romance between Rowan's father, Lucas, and a really lovely woman who's pretty much Rowan's opposite on the outside, but just as strong on the inside. Ella reminded me a bit of Dr. Mira, in the In Death books.
I also appreciated what Roberts did with another secondary character, one that in most other authors' books would have really annoyed me. Dolly Brakeman is slutty and evil, and completely demonised in the book. The reason she'd annoy me is that with many authors, Dolly would be contrasted with the almost-virginal, virtuous heroine, and her sex life would be presented as evidence of her moral corruption. The thing is, Rowan's sex life has been pretty varied as well. Maybe not quite as much as Dolly's, but in those other authors' books, she could probably serve as the slutty one. And that's what I liked: Dolly's evil not because she sleeps around, but because she uses people, and those two issues are never confused.
The only area where the book falls down a bit is in the suspense. It did keep my interest, for the most part, but I found it a bit too obvious. I zeroed in on a particular suspect right at the beginning (and I mean really, really early, as soon as anything happened), and I was right. This person's motivations, explained at the end, also struck me as slightly iffy.
Still, this didn't detract all that much from this solidly enjoyable book.
MY GRADE: A B+.