Tuesday, May 31, 2011

My First Review for the Blog: Chasing Fire by Nora Roberts

Okay, let me just start off by saying that I am an unapologetic fan of Nora Roberts.  Those of you that read her know that she writes formulaic fluff.  You know what else?  I don't care.  I forgive an awful lot in her books because I read them for what they are.  I like her idealized relationships, generally enjoy the biplay between her characters, and think she has a straight forward writing style that is easy to digest.  Nevermind the predictability of the plots (and this one you can see coming a mile away).

Regardless, the woman is prolific.  She generally publishes about four to five books a year; two Eve Dallas books (under the pseudonym, J.D. Robb), a stand alone book, and usually one or two of an ongoing trilogy/quartet.  It's pretty impressive.  I know people (alot of them, in fact) that don't READ four books in a year.

Her latest is a book called Chasing Fire.  It is one of the stand alone variety and is a mild departure from her normal fair.  I'll get to why I say this in a second.  First, the obligatory synopsis:  The book is about the "Zulies" of Montana.  They are smokejumpers... Firefighters with a unique method of arriving on scene... they jump out of airplanes, helicopters...  prolly the spaceshuttle if it were efficient to do so.  Our heroine, Rowan, is a high speed, go fast, low drag, no nonsense type who doesn't mess around. Well... except MAYBE with that cute new rookie Gulliver (yeah, you read that right, 'cept they call him Gul most of the time).  There are nefarious deeds afoot and general mayhem ensues.

I've glanced at the reviews at Amazon (primarily the negative ones) and there are a number of gripes about the technical nature of this book.  Nora spends a fair amount of time explaining how smokejumpers, jump smoke.  Having been active duty Army Airborne (although not a firefighter) for 3 years, I personally connected with the material.  I can vouch for the jump training scenes, and found that she did a pretty good job of capturing the pre-jump atmosphere.

That being said, it might be a bit much for the target audience (romance aficionados).  Case-in-point, there was some comparison to her previous book, The Search, with regard to this technical material (The Search involved training rescue dogs). When it came up, people were generally willing to forgive her for it / enjoyed it, cuz... well the target audience likes dogs and doesn't mind hearing about them (their words, not mine... more or less).  Both books were clearly painstakingly researched, so you can't fault her there, although I can understand if you would rather have less "how to", and more kissy face.

I didn't find that the book was short on the romance, tho.  C'mon, this IS a Nora book. Her women are strong but feminine and her men are idealized. They generally fall into bed together without much of a hitch.  Which is where I found this book was a mild departure. 

Rowan has a harder edge than most of Nora's leading women (forgive me Eve, you'll always be the queen of tough, and J.D. writes you anyway).  Rowan is somewhat rough around the edges and is dealing with some issues of her own.  The path to the bedroom isn't a monumental one, but they don't get there as smoothly as usual.  In fact, Rowan comes dangerously close to displaying <gasp> actual character flaws.  Some Amazon reviewers found her too, manly... I thought she was HOT... get it... firefighter... oh, never mind.

So, what'd I think?  I liked it alot.  It's not High Noon or Angels Fall (if you read Nora but have not read these, stop what you are doing right now and go get them, they are worth your time), but much better than average Nora. If you have any comments or questions, please feel free to comment below.  If you are going to post a spoiler, however, please make sure to designate the comment appropriately so people can avoid it if they choose. Thanx!


1 comment:

  1. Good book. Not my favorite Nora Roberts, but a very decent story.. Lots of smoke jumper lingo, so a lexicon would not have been a bad idea. But, I loved the smart sassy remarks and conversations of the characters throughout. The book has a lot of characters to sort out at first, but I got them straight pretty quickly.