Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Nora Roberts - Chasing Fire

Rowan Tripp is addicted to danger. She's been fighting the annual forest fires in the rugged Montana mountains since she was eighteen years old. She can read a wildfire like no one else - and is prepared to put her life on the line again and again to save others. But now she is mourning the death of her good friend and jump partner, Jim - and haunted by the fact that she might have been able to save him. More pressing is the fact that the new season's recruits to the 'smoke-jumping' team need to be trained. Rowan has a strict rule: NEVER get romantically involved with anyone she works with. But the moment she meets Gull Curry that rule is severely tested. And when it becomes clear that someone does blame Rowan for Jim's death, and is determined to seek revenge, Rowan finds that she needs Gull's help and support more than ever ... 

Comment: I've said often that Nora Roberts was the first author I became a fan of, I've read practically all her books except the ones I'm spacing out so that I always have something by her to read every year. This month I picked this title, which was originally released in 2011.

In this book we meet heroine Rowan Tripp, a fierce woman who likes challenges and what bigger rush there is but to jump into fires and save lives in the process? Rowan is a smoke jumper, a specific kind of firefighter who work mostly in rough terrain.
This story starts with a new season, right after a bad time for Rowan's team because one of their team mates has died in a fire. Now Rowan and the others are ready to start a new season and among the new rookies is Gull Curry, a guy Rowan feels attracted to but with whom she swears she won't be involved with, since it's her rule to not date team members.
However, there's something between them and Rowan might need all the support she can, especially when problems start at the base and people even die... can Rowan and her team be in danger?

I should start by saying I'm usually glad the author picks unusual jobs for her characters or situations to set her stories in specific scenarios and this story with smoke jumpers and where the male protagonist also has a business in the arcade games was quite imaginative.
But I must also confess I'm not a huge fan of firefighting settings in general and the author has written quite a few. Nothing wrong with it and the people who work in this field really must be brave and real life heroes but there's this component of danger and risk I'm not very interested in reading when it comes to fiction. Difficult enough the danger does exist, much less to read about it for fun...

Basically, the plot is centered around the smile jumpers at a certain base in Montana, how they are professionals who need to train hard and be in shape, be ready for what might happen. I actually like reading about all the technical aspects of how careful they must be with their equipment and how well trained they need to be so they can know how to act.
In Nora Robert's books, all protagonists are amazing professionals and although at times all the details (proof of an amazing research) are quite well inserted to the story, they also seem too technical too, almost as if the novel is a "how to" little manual.

I've also noticed many of her books, especially the ones labeled romantic suspense but all her recent ones in general (say since one or two decades ago) have a lot of page count dedicated to show case how clever, professional and well known her protagonists are about whatever field they are in. Being a good professional can be very sexy yes, but I think it also comes to a point where it feels clinical and since this author's books are more and more detailed about everything, I also have this feeling quite often.

This to say Rowan and Gull are knowledgeable and us their brains but it does feel as if they could not make mistakes and that is a little difficult to relate to at times.
Their relationship is a very easy one. They pretty much settle into it with no problems whatsoever ( they are too focused on their job and the issues related to it) and I sincerely think the fact this is also a romance was quite overlooked here. Yes, they are both incredibly savvy and smart people but as a couple they work without any effort! I found this very difficult to accept. Yes, I know the relationship is a given but why should they work? The conversations they have and the common things they share cannot be enough, I think.

The romance is really bland. The end, where the HEA is evident in the horizon just felt overdone and a little pitiful because to me the development of their relationship was very dull.
There's a secondary romance between Rowan's father and a woman he meets at work and has had more cute scenes, I think.
In my opinion, the best relationships depicted here ended up being the one between Rowan and her father and the friendships between coworkers, etc.

The suspense plot is weak. I don't usually "discover" who the villain is or, to be honest, I don't really try to guess because the fun is the road to the surprise but in this case it felt really obvious who the villain was and I was right in my assumption. The reason behind the problems has emit but the way it was explored was really weak.

All in all, this was a book I feel I enjoyed more for my habit of enjoying the author's books. I like her style, I'm a fan of many of her books and even the ones I feel weren't so good still strike a cord. They are fluid, easy to read. 
The romance and plot of this was was really weak but the author carried it with fascinating sets and technical descriptions. It was good to learn something but to me Nora Roberts does seem to have reached the point where her skill is overshadowing her writing talent a little...
Grade: 7/10

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