Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Chasing Fire by Nora Roberts

Chasing Fire (2011)
Nora Roberts
Grade: B
Genre: romantic suspense
Sex scenes: mild
Source: library

Rowan Tripp is an experienced smoke jumper and for half of the year, she spends her time risking her life for the thrill of fighting fire. She has followed in the footsteps of her father, ‘Iron Man Tripp’ who has long retired from the business and Ro is every bit as good at her job as her father was. With a new crop of rookies to train and torture, as well as the usual fires to put out, Ro is going to be busy.

Ro always makes it a point never to sleep with a colleague, and definitely not a rookie at that. Gulliver Curry is persistent like she’s never seen before and Ro finds herself persuaded by his boyish charms and good humour. As always, it’s a tough summer and Gull provides light relief and a shoulder to lean on whenever Rowan needs it. As the summer progresses, it seems as if Rowan is going to need it a lot …

At the end of the last summer, one of the worst things imaginable happened: one of their own died. Jim had pulled the wrong toggle on his parachute at the most crucial time and paid for his mistake with his life. As his jump partner, Rowan feels responsible and the replay of his last moments plays like a broken reel over and over in her sleep. It soon becomes clear that Rowan isn’t the only one who blames her for Jim’s death; as the pranks become more serious, dead bodies turn up and the smoke jumpers fear for their lives whenever they go out to fight a fire, it is clear that this is no ordinary summer …

I’d heard a lot about Chasing Fire before I started it. It’s one of those books that you want to read because everyone goes on about it so often, but always put it off because there are just so many other things to read and it’s not the end of the world if I don’t. Chasing Fire didn’t rock my world, but it was a good read and I’m glad I read it, if only because it means that I can tick off another book from NR’s booklist. I don’t think that I would read it again, but that’s probably because it’s just too damn long for me to want to.

Rowan was very cool: the epitome of a self-dependent twenty-first century woman, you’re likely to get a fist in the face if you dare question her ability to do her job. I like her tenacity and fearlessness when jumping out of an aeroplane into a roaring fire; her easy camaraderie with her colleagues shows us her human side and when she’s wrong, she isn’t afraid to admit it and apologise. Despite her greatness, she’s not the most likeably of heroines and I would have a hard time being friends with her.

When you’ve written two hundred novels, I can imagine that you might be in danger of repeating names for characters. But never, in a million years, would I have thought that I would come across a character with the name ‘Gulliver Curry.’ That’s just Nora Roberts for you and while I’m still iffy about the name, her uniqueness is part of the reason why I love her.

I loved the whole jumping fires thing. The heroine of Blue Smoke is a firefighter and it was literally one of my first NR novels; it feels like a very long time ago. The fire-thing was cool then and it was cool now. The detail was typical NR brilliant and it’s always great to learn something new; I love that she always makes me want to be her heroines for a day.

I thought Gull was just too perfect. Even when he was yelling at Rowan, it was to make her see how selfish she was being and to ultimately get her to be the bigger, better person. The only thing worse than the AlphHole hero and an asshole hero, is the perfect hero: even in romance-land, no one is perfect. Sure, Gull is lovely, but even the best heroes have some flaws and this is what makes them the best. Really, I would have thought that NR should have perfected it by now.

It was a good all-round novel and I’m pleased with myself for guessing the baddie correctly early on, but I’m nowhere near wowed. For one, I couldn’t connect with the characters as I would have liked to. I’ve already mentioned that Rowan is a bit unapproachable and Gull too perfect; while there was a rich cast of secondary characters, there were too many of them for a single one or two to shine and make a proper impact. Secondly, the book was just too long. It could have done without some huge sections that just dragged the book out unnecessarily and made for boring reading at times. It took me close to a month to get from cover to cover (partly because I didn’t want to lug it everywhere) and at times it was hard to motivate myself to open it. It was good; could have been better.

Image courtesy of Fantastic Fiction

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