Rowan Tripp personifies the strong, fearless, outdoor-loving kind of woman who is adept at chasing fire by day and playing with fire in her romantic life. Rowan thrives on danger and is passionate about the majesty of the forest and wildlife she saves from the devastating effects of summertime forest fires.
Rowan "studied, trained, bled and burned --- outwilled pain and exhaustion" to become a Zulie, an elite Missoula, Montana smoke jumper. She is a "salsa-eating, tequila-downing, smoke-jumping stunner with brains and a wicked uppercut." Rowan is the daughter of the legendary Zulie Lucas "Iron Man" Tripp, and her instincts and leadership are well respected. She is not your traditional Nora Roberts protagonist, but as the reader is drawn into the life of a female smoke jumper, she proves to be an able heroine on the line, yet happily seduced by the romantic streak of her new Zulie teammate, Gulliver (Gull) Curry.
Gull is a hotshot firefighter. One look at Rowan, emerging like a "Viking goddess," and the fire in his loins exceeds the fire and heat he parachutes into. Gull's romantic side softens Rowan's stark veneer. If it wasn't for Gull's champagne picnic, wildflowers, walks under the moonlight and sense of adventure, Rowan would be drowning in the memories of her jump partner's death the season before.
When Rowan becomes the target of a grieving woman who believes her Zulie died because of Rowan, Gull and the other Zulies have her back. Craziness ensues, dead bodies are found amongst the charred trees, and all the Zulies are suspects until the killer reveals himself in a stunning page-turning finale.
A love triangle is at the heart of this contemporary mystery from New York Times bestselling author Nora Roberts, but make no mistake: fire is the central character in her novel. The smoke jumpers are a close-knit family; they live together, fight fires together, play together and cry together. Their respect for each other matches their respect for the power and fury of a raging fire. Once again, Roberts makes the reader proud of heroic, strong women who know how to fight a fire, solve a mystery, and get a man all in one short summer.
Reviewed by Hillary Wagy on April 18, 2011