I don’t have much experience with firefighters; most of my family and friends seem to fall into the industries of education, finance, and healthcare. The nice thing about reading, though, is that it allows you to move beyond your own experiences and imagine what could be. This week I settled down to spend some time with some firefighters — a very satisfying experience thanks to Ms. Stacey’s excellent writing.
Scott Kincaid appeared in the last two books of Ms. Stacey’s Boston Fire series, first as a brother and then as a friend/coworker. Watching his closest family members and friends settle down over the last year, Scott has begun to crave something similar for himself and the book opens with Scott on the lookout for a good woman. The last thing he expects, though, is that she’ll arrive in the form of his new temporary boss.
With the lieutenant of Engine 59 recently injured, the company needs a temporary replacement, which comes in the form of Jamie Rutherford. She’s a competent firefighter who’s up to the task of adjusting to a new team dynamic quickly. All goes well with her transfer at the beginning, but she and Scott are strongly attracted to each other from the start, and it doesn’t get any easier as time goes on. Before long, they begin a relationship, doing their best to remain professional at work while they’re falling head-over-heels for each other after hours.
It’s clear from the beginning that the most challenging thing about this relationship is its potential impact on Scott and Jamie’s coworkers. In other settings, striking up an illicit romance with a colleague isn’t too dangerous – sure, in extreme circumstances you could get fired for it – but generally the only thing that’s being risked is an uncomfortable or awkward moment when other people find out. In Jamie and Scott’s case, their relationship could majorly upset the team dynamic of Engine 59, even if they don’t tell anyone. Given that these men and women are trusting each other with their lives on a regular basis, it’s easy to understand how truly dangerous Jamie and Scott’s romance could be to the health and wellbeing of their coworkers.
By the end of the book, however, the problem is Scott’s concern for Jamie’s safety. It’s funny, because Scott comes from a family of firefighters, and we saw in the first book of this series how his sister Lydia has struggled with fear for her father’s (and brother’s) safety for as long as she can remember. Although Scott has always tried to understand that, it’s not until he faces the thought of the woman he loves running into a burning building that he truly understands what his sisters and mother went through. Of course, he doesn’t do a good job of coping with this new fear, but in the end he’s able to admit to Jamie that his struggles all come from caring about her.
Although I can’t say that Scott and Jamie are my favorite couple of Ms. Stacey’s, they’re definitely up there. Both characters are well drawn as extremely competent and realistic people. TSTL heroes and heroines have always been one of my pet peeves — particularly when they work in a dangerous profession — so I was extremely pleased by this couple’s intelligence. I also like how well they suit each other. I got the sense that, at the beginning, Scott was searching for a little wife who would stay home in the kitchen all day long, or some such. Jamie clearly suits him better, understanding his passion for his job and also being an admirable firefighter in her own right.
After putting all of this down, it’s difficult to say why I didn’t give Fully Ignited DIK status. Even after mulling it over for a few days, I still can’t really come up with anything I didn’t like about the book. I suppose it comes down to the simple fact that, upon finishing it, I didn’t feel the need to immediately reread it. Although all of its pieces fit together seamlessly, I didn’t connect with it on that level. However, I don’t doubt it will achieve DIK status for other readers, so I’d definitely recommend seeking it out!