Fan the Flames, by Katie Ruggle

>> Thursday, September 01, 2016

TITLE: Fan the Flames
AUTHOR: Katie Ruggle

PAGES: 422
PUBLISHER: Sourcebooks Casablanca

SETTING: Contemporary US
TYPE: Romantic Suspense
SERIES: 2nd full length title in the Search and Rescue series

He's a firefighter.
He's a Motorcycle Club member.
And if a killer has his way...he'll take the fall for a murder he didn't commit.

Ian Walsh is used to riding the line between the good guys and the bad. He may owe the club his life, but his heart rests with his fire station brothers...and with the girl he's loved since they were kids. Ian would do anything for Rory. He'd die for her. Kill for her. Defend her to his last breath?and he may just have to.

Every con in the Rockies knows Rory is the go-to girl for less-than-legal firearms. When she defends herself against a brutal attack, Rory finds herself catapulted into the center of a gang war, with only Ian standing between her and a threat greater than either of them could have imagined.

In the remote Rocky Mountains, lives depend on the Search & Rescue brotherhood. But in a place this far off the map, trust is hard to come by and secrets can be murder...
I've gone on and on about how much I loved the first full-length title in this series, Hold Your Breath... basically, enough to make me read a book with a motorcycle club in it (really, really not my thing). Unfortunately, this gamble didn't pay off, as Fan the Flames was nothing like Hold Your Breath.

The heroine, Rory, is the owner of the town's gun shop, while the hero, Ian, is a firefighter who happens to also be a member of the local motorcycle club. Ian has had a thing for Rory for years, but never made a move (why? no idea). When stuff starts to happen, with someone trying to get into her shop at night, he decides it's time to make a move and protect her.

My main problem was that I had huge ethical issues with what the hero and heroine did, and the narrative was trying to tell me it was all ok and nothing I should worry about. From what I could see in the first half of the book, which is as much as I read, the motorcycle club Ian is a part of is not a bunch of mostly decent guys who just happen to like riding motorcycles, or even tough guys who simply club together to protect each other. They are proper lowlifes, the sort of people who think nothing of assaulting and killing people. Ian doesn't seem to be like them, but I just could not accept as a romance hero someone who'd be part of that group. As for Rory, she sells guns to these people -illegally, since, as she says, they would not pass a background check. Both she and Ian should be in jail.

I also hated that the book read like an NRA pamphlet. Everyone in this story is obsessed with guns. It's not just that this was boring, just because this was an obsession I don't share. If it had been something else I'm not interested in (say, classic cars), that would have been boring, but ok. Guns are not neutral, though. Gun nuts like these people will probably hold certain political positions related to that interest, which is an element that's purposely left out here. The way Ruggle dealt with this element, though, you'd think guns were harmless trinkets, and that it's normal to have a veritable arsenal in your home. No. Just no.

As for the romance... well, there was very little of it in the sections I read, and it wasn't great. Ian is a much too high-handed with Rory for my tastes. He decides she needs him to stay at her house because an intruder is looking around, and that is that. And we're told that as soon as he adopts a masterful tone, Rory will just automatically obey, out of training from when her father was running drills when she was a child. Ugh.

Yeah, this was definitely not for me. I should have given up earlier, but this series has a continuing suspense thread (the famous Headless Dead Guy from book 1), and I wanted to know what would happen with that. If I do read book 3 (hoping it's more like book 1 than book 2), I guess I'll have to hope Ruggle provides some catch-up.



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