“Chasing Fire,” by New York Times bestselling author Nora Roberts, explores the world of adrenaline-pumping fire jumping in the northern USA forests.
Smokejumper Rowan Tripp follows in her famous father’s footsteps, spending summers fighting dangerous fires in Montana, pushing back against the raw power that challenges them every day in the field. When former Hotshot (experienced wildfire fighter) Gulliver Curry shows up as a smokejumper recruit at the Missoula base, Rowan is immediately singled out as a target for his affection. She says she doesn’t date rookies. He says he’ll get her to change her mind.
These are highly trained firefighters that work for long hours in volatile, hazardous conditions for days on end, sometimes being cut off from food, water, and help for long periods of time. Hotshots are specially trained to work a fire in the woods with chain saws and axes; smokejumpers have the additional training and challenge of parachuting into a fire when it can’t be reached on foot. If they’re lucky, they get to shower every couple of days.
“Chasing Fire” is remarkable in its descriptions of the exhausting life of a smokejumper. When not on duty working a fire, they are busy working out so that they can maintain their exceptional physical fitness. The guys and gals jump into the fire in remote mountain areas, ready to go, and must be as self-sufficient as possible. Their equipment and supplies are dropped in after the firefighters land. Part of the backstory important to Rowan’s struggles has to do with an unfortunate jump that her partner made, and the incredible guilt she carries.
Roberts did a great deal of research to get the details nailed down and it shows in the many harrowing fire scenes. The smokejumpers beat the fire back, saw trees and limbs, brake the fire’s progress, sometimes getting surrounded or burned, sometimes carrying out injured people. Gripping descriptions of the fires made me feel as if I had a front row seat.
A special bond is created among the firefighters as they risk their lives for each other every time they jump. The job is incredibly dangerous, but the jumpers look forward to the challenge and the victory.
But, if that kind of excitement isn’t enough in “Chasing Fire,” someone is setting fires during the dry season, first to cover up a murder, then to see the forest burn.
There are multiple suspects for the horrific deeds – mentally unstable characters and people out for revenge. There is a ripple effect of actions/emotions in all directions, with remorse and misplaced blame part of the mix. The stakes are ramped up as the plot unfolds and jumpers' lives are placed at risk.
With over 400 million copies of her books sold, Nora Roberts is accomplished at creating living, breathing, fully-developed characters. In “Chasing Fire,” she delivers a thrilling plot and pays homage to a heroic group of men and women as well. And, of course, there’s the hot romance. 😉
For more information about Nora Roberts (aka J.D. Robb) please visit www.noraroberts.com