Fan the Flames
I’ve been on a romantic suspense reading streak recently and jumped at the chance to read this story of a biker/firefighter and the girl for whom he’s carried a torch since they were children. Unfortunately, Fan the Flames fell short of my expectations.
Ian Walsh is in a bit of trouble when a headless corpse is found in a reservoir clutching a pendant that belongs to him. Though Ian has always been a standup guy, his ties to local motorcycle club The Liverton Riders, whose members are known for illegal activities, combined with the pendant are enough to cast suspicion of murder upon him. He wants to clear his name without ticking off the club with whom tensions have been mounting.
His friend and crush Rory is having her own issues with the club and their president. Rory owns a gun shop where she sells legal and not so legal items. When a series of break-ins culminates in her and Ian shooting two members of the Riders, the tension between the club, Ian, and Rory reaches a boiling point. The pair must resolve their differences with the club and with each other before the town erupts in an all out war and anyone else is killed.
On a positive note, the book is written well, with prose that flows clearly and smoothly with descriptions and sensory details that evoke the feeling of being in the Colorado mountains in winter. The romance between Ian and Rory develops during the course of the story, and there are some nice moments of banter and lightheartedness between them to balance the action and danger.
Unfortunately though, the romance never really took off for me. I didn’t feel like the couple had any chemistry together. And I never could figure out what gorgeous Ian saw in plain Rory. She isn’t described as being particularly attractive and her personality doesn’t come close to sparkling. Sometimes she’s witty, but mostly she’s awkward and uncomfortable with people. Raised by doomsday survivalists, she’s spent the majority of her life isolated from society. A big deal is made of her friendship with Ian, which confused me, mostly because they seemed more like acquaintances who are on friendly terms, rather than the type of buddies who talk and hang out regularly. It was as if the author was trying for the friends-to-lovers trope, but was unable to pull it off due to the nature of their relationship.
I was also pretty confused about the nature of Ian’s relationship with the Riders. He’s a club member, but he doesn’t really hang out with them or seem to like them all that much. A lot of the conflict in the story is predicated on this tension, but I never understood why the club president had such a massive problem with Ian or why Ian was even a member of the club.
Despite some good action sequences and decent pacing, Fan the Flames doesn’t have what I want in a romantic suspense – characters to care about and a compelling mystery and suspense. The romance between Rory and Ian is standalone with an HEA at the conclusion of the book. However, the mystery element runs throughout the series, so interested readers may want to start at the beginning of the Search and Rescue series rather than here.