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 one of the most exclusive fire-fighting 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 among 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 kid’s 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.
Rowan Tripp is the daughter of “Iron Man, Tripp” Missoula fire jumper. Raised in the world of fire jumping, she’s learned to be independent and trust her instincts. Her father raised her on his own after she was abandoned by her mother as a baby. With her issues deep within, she’s focused on work and keeps her relationships brief.
The book begins with her jump partner, Jim dying by an error on a jump. A year later, she’s having nightmares and feeling plagued by what happened.
Gulliver Curry is a rookie with great instincts, a prolific mind, and the ability to read people and circumstances. Nicknamed, “Fast Feet,” he’s fast on his feet and a team player. From the beginning, he’s attracted to Rowan and has no qualms about her being the boss.
Working together to fight fires, Rowan and Gull discover each other. Rowan is dealing with coming to terms with her father’s new relationship, and she won. Gull is working to experience work and life with a woman he can enjoy.
The romance of the book is gradual and real, there are raw and real moments, some drama thrown in to make it interesting. Throw in the death of Dolly, Jim’s ex, her priest, and the mystery of someone tampering with equipment, you got yourself a hell of a story.
The story keeps you guessing who the murder is, though I knew pretty early on. I guessed it but the circumstances, relationships, and fire fighting engages the reader. Nora did an exceptional job researching and providing vivid images that make up for the mystery. I love this book and I love revisiting it.