No one could say that Under Fire is realistic, elegantly written, or populated with believable characters. I’ve read books like that. Some are excellent, and some are elegant, but kind of dull. Then there’s Under Fire. Nothing is realistic, everything is over the top, and the plot could only happen in bizarro world. But it’s far from dull, and I had way too much fun reading it.
Zack Knight is working his fingers to the bone. He operates the quint for Fire Station 5 in Sugarland, Tennessee, and for the past several months he has not only worked his regular shifts, but taken on all the overtime he can get, and covered for all of his colleagues’ vacation and sick time. Zack has sold just about everything he owns including his home, and he’s living in a slum apartment in a bad neighborhood. Why is he doing this, you ask? Well it seems as though Zack’s father was a compulsive gambler and owes a huge chunk of change to casino magnate Joaquin Delacruz. Zack’s father is now in a nursing home, totally incapacitated from a stroke, but that hasn’t stopped Joaquin from making not so veiled threats against him. Even though the old man was a very poor excuse for a dad, Zack is loyal and plans to pay back the money if it takes him his whole life. And it just might.
When the book opens, Zack is rushing to work and he’s running a fever. He rear ends an SUV, but the damage is minor and after exchanging insurance information and some sexy banter with the driver, Cori Shannon, Jack gets to work late and is reamed out by the captain. Zack’s dressing down is interrupted by an emergency call – an SUV has slid out of control on a bridge and is perched precariously above the Cumberland River. One guess as to who is in it.
Zack gets Cori out, but while he is in the car, it falls into the river. Zack is rescued, barely alive and Cori feels responsible for him (and she’s attracted to his hotness). When he gets out of the hospital, Cori drives him to his apartment/slum only to find out he’s been evicted. So she takes him to her house (which turns out to be his house – the one he had to sell). Naturally he doesn’t tell her this was his house, but he sets out to fix all the little things he left undone when he sold it.
Cori is finishing nursing school. She’s paying for it by working as a stripper even though she has a 50 million dollar Swiss bank account courtesy of an evil ex-husband who is now dead. Cori won’t touch the money because it’s tainted (I wonder if she ever heard of student loans). And to add to the cosmic coincidences in Under Fire, Cori uses her mother’s maiden name as her surname. Her real last name is Delacruz and Joaquin is her brother.
Most of the plot involves a mysterious man who trying to kill Cori. Since Zack is with her for almost the entire book, he gets in the path of a lot of the murder attempts. He is almost drowned, he’s shot, stabbed, hit on the head, tied up and beaten with a poker and generally pounded on. In between injuries, he and Cori become lovers. Zach is a virgin, but he is up for almost anything, and he and Cori engage in some mildly kinky antics before he is deflowered.
I’ve only scratched the surface of this book. The coincidences in it are mind boggling, Cori and Zack seem determined to engage in Big Misunderstandings, and Big Secrets pop up like dandelions after a rain. However, if the characters acted like reasonable human beings, the book would probably not be the over the top fun read that it is. This is a good bad book, the equivalent of those wonderful 1950s monster movies that I love dearly. I have a blast watching them, and I had a blast reading Under Fire.