REVIEW: Trial by Fire by Jo DavisFriday, September 5, 2008 1:00
Sandy M’s review of Trial by Fire (The Firefighers of Station Five, Book 1) by Jo Davis
Contemporary Romance released by Signet 5 Aug 08
After reading Trial by Fire, I see why little boys say they want to be a fireman when they grow up. Yes, they’re sexy and as romance readers we definitely want to have that in our stories, but they’re also sensitive people who see a horrible side of life, live it every day; men and women who forge friendships that run deep, who look out for their own, and Ms. Davis has captured that right down to the core in her debut book.
Of course, there’s a lot more going on in this book, and within the first few pages we’re given several other side stories to go along with our main romance. We get to know each of the firefighters quite well throughout these pages, and like their brothers, if one of them hurts, we hurt along with them. Howard Paxton is the chief of Station Five and also an EMT. The night he meets the woman who can blast through his barriers he’s erected around himself is also the night his nightmares begin to resurface and his life spirals back into the hell of his childhood just as he truly begins to live it. As the gruesome details of recent arson fires are discovered, he realizes that he’s somehow tied to them and the monster who is preying on innocent women.
Howard is one of those men who’s almost too good to be true, but then that’s when you find out he has some ghosts buried in his past, things he won’t talk about with anyone. He loves his best friend, Sean, who is the captain at the station house, to the point of kicking in his front door to make sure Sean hasn’t done something stupid, even though no one could really blame him if he had. That’s one of those side stories that will break your heart. Howard loves his adoptive parents with all his heart, but his past always seems to get in the way when he wants to tell them so. It’s when he meets Kat that his life finally takes on some new meaning.
I liked the fact that Kat is a heroine who isn’t sticks and bones, has a little extra on her — and Howard loves her anyway. In fact, that’s one of the first thing that draws him to her. He’s a big man, so he needs more to a woman when he makes love to her. A man after my own heart. Kat is the opposite of Howard on almost every score. She grew up in a loving household, parents who love her. She’s open and believes in talking things out, facing your inner demons head on.
At the same time Kat’s a little vulnerable when it comes to her body, just as most women are who are her size. But she likes herself, loves her family and her job, and is ecstatic that Howard wants to be with her. She doesn’t run from him when she finds out about his troubled past or when the current trouble rears its ugly head. The only time Kat balks at Howard’s dominance is when he goes a little too far to protect her from the arsonist/murderer who has targeted him. Well, and the time she takes after him with a fishing pole. Even then, these two are good together.
I liked this storyline. Ms. Davis gives us one hell of a villain. He’s right up there with the best who have no remorse and get a thrill out of killing. The camaraderie and banter among the firefighters is fun and heartfelt. Just from the little bit we’re given for future stories, I’m really looking forward to Sean’s story. We get a glimpse of that romance in the making here. The only thing I stumbled over now and again in the book is the dialogue. At times it felt choppy and not quite right for the situation or the relationship, especially between Howard and Kat. But that happened only here and there, and I feel this is something that will definitely improve with each book as Ms. Davis gains experience in her writing. Otherwise, her story, her characters, and the emotion are all well done and very enjoyable.
I look forward to the subsequent books in this series. Two more are scheduled for next year. They’re only going to get better and better.
Meet Lieutenant Howard “Six-Pack” Paxton—
one of the handsome, hard-bodied firefighters of Station Five.
Four-alarm fires have nothing on him…
Howard may love being a firefighter and riding his Harley, but there’s nothing he values more than his bachelorhood. That is, until a feisty, curvaceous teacher named Kat McKenna falls into his arms at the scene of a fire—and melts the six-foot-six tower of bronze muscle…
But just as passion ignites between them—and they explore new heights of sexual ecstasy—a ruthless arsonist with a deadly secret and a thirst for vengeance becomes their worst nightmare…
Read an excerpt.