For a very long time now, Nora Roberts has been my hands-down favourite author. Her style of blending a good mystery/thriller story with romance has been a winner in my eyes, and I especially like the powerful female role models she uses as lead characters. In an age when girls look up to Bella Swan, a strong female is a positive message indeed. I was fortunate to get my hands on an advance copy of Chasing Fire and approached it with wary apprehension resulting from my attitude towards her last couple of stand alone novels. They (The Search and Black Hills in particular) did little to impress me. She appears to have hit the mark with this one, and despite a couple of small issues I have, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this.
Chasing Fire focuses on Rowan Tripp, a firefighter and “smoke jumper” in Montana. She is the daughter of Lucas ‘Iron Man’ Tripp, a well respected and now retired smoke jumper himself. Rowan has endured her fair share of heartache; as a young girl, her mother abandoned her family and was soon-after killed, and her good friend and jump partner Jim Rayner died during a jump-gone-wrong – a jump Rowan feels she could have impacted and saved Jim’s life. We meet her at the start of a new fire season, along with a new group of recruits. In this group is the love interest of the story, Gulliver Curry. Rowan strictly does not sleep with any of her colleagues, but as Nora does so well, Gull cracks away at Rowan’s shell until she gives in.
The romance element aside, it is obvious that there are other people around the base who also blame Rowan for Jim’s death. We meet a host of colourful characters along the way, some intent on being vocal and others internalising their grief until they snap. The return of a past colleague stirs some feathers, and when a brutal message is sent to Rowan, the base feels as though the worst has passed. They are indeed wrong.
The positives from Chasing Fire outweigh the negatives for me. The story was more engrossing, the characters were likeable and most important, their battles were believable. Negatives were that some of the fire fighting segments were too lengthy and long-winded for people who are not all familiar with fires. I found it interesting to learn more about what these people go through, but at times it felt far too detailed. My only other complaint is that I worked out quite early on who the “bad guy” was – a first for a Nora novel.
At 472 pages, it took me just over a week to get through it. When it is released in stores in April, I suggest you do yourself a favour and grab a copy. You will not be disappointed.