Flashpoint is the first book in a connected miniseries about firefighters in a Southern California town. It’s a fun, sexy read with enjoyable characters and an interesting mystery subplot. It’s my first book by this author, but I’ll definitely be checking out her backlist.
Zach Thomas was orphaned at age 10 when his parents were killed in a fire at their home. He was raised by his older brother Caleb, and eventually became a firefighter (no surprise there). Zach is friendly and laid-back, but he holds himself back from getting close to women because of the deaths of his parents.
Brooke O’Brien is an EMT who is living the same Bohemian lifestyle that her mother raised her with; moving to different cities in different states and never staying in one place very long. She takes a temporary job as an EMT with the Santa Rey fire department after her grandmother passes away and leaves Brooke her home. Brooke never knew her grandmother and has no connection to the home, so she plans on packing everything up and selling the house before moving on to the next city. Brooke is kind of uptight and reserved; she’s always distanced herself from others and never lets anyone get close to her. She has no solid connections with anyone, and everything she owns fits in the back of her car.
Zach and Brooke are instantly attracted to each other, and their chemistry is combustible. They also feel some sort of connection between them, but while Zach indicates that he’s interested in pursuing a sexual relationship, Brooke hesitates about connecting with anyone in Santa Rey before she takes off again. But the longer Brooke stays in Santa Rey, the more connection she feels both to her grandmother (through photos and diaries), and to Zach and her co-workers.
One of the things I liked most about this story was that Zach and Brooke didn’t jump into bed within hours or days of meeting. While that kind of storyline can work, sometimes it’s refreshing to read a story where the characters spend time flirting and getting to know each other a while before starting a sexual relationship. It also ratchets up the sexual tension, and makes the connection between the characters more believable.
Another positive about this story was that these weren’t characters that hold jobs but you never see actually working. It was nice to read about Zach and Brooke going about their daily lives and doing their jobs, instead of spending all their time obsessing over their attraction and boinking each other’s brains out. It made the story and the characters feel more realistic, and more interesting to read about.
In between his regular duties, Zach is working on solving a series of suspected arsons. He has good reason to suspect foul play, but is having a lot of trouble convincing the fire investigator and the chief of his suspicions. All of the fires have been investigated and ruled accidents, but Zach is sure there is an arsonist at play. I enjoyed this subplot, and I was so glad that it was a good old fashioned mystery storyline, and not some psycho stalking the heroine. There is a partial conclusion to the arson plot in this book, but the remainder of the mystery is wrapped up in the next book, Flashback, which tells the story of Zach’s partner Aidan. However, the author does a good job making the partial resolution in this book feel like a conclusion, while leaving the door open for further investigation in the next book.
Overall I really enjoyed Flashpoint. The only quibble I had was that the featured secondary romance felt underdeveloped, but upon checking the author’s website I see that this is because these characters’ story is fleshed out in the third story in the series.
While the last third of Flashpoint wasn’t quite as good as the first two-thirds, it was still a solid read with likeable and interesting characters, and a good mystery to keep the pages turning. I look forward to digging up the next two books in the series.