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Burning Up
Author: Anne Marsh
Publisher: Kensington
Release Date: October 2012
ISBN: 9780758266811

Book 1 of The Smoke Jumpers
Book Genre: Contemporary Romance, Romantic Suspense/Mystery

Buy this book from:

Burning Up

76 people found the following review helpful

Book Reviewed by Bridget (reviewer)

[ Review Posted: Feb 10, 2013 ] - See all my reviews
Anne Marsh's new novel features a unique brand of hero—rough, ready and thoroughly able to handle the hottest of crises. But finding their soft spots is what makes the series shine, and this opener is a wonderfully moving, exciting suspense story.

Jack Donovan left his home years ago and hasn't looked back. Though his adopted mother made the best of homes for him and his two foster brothers, Jack has seen enough of the world to know that he'll never be content in one place or under one roof. Since then, he's made a career for himself as a smoke-jumper, adoring every moment of the danger, the camaraderie and the adrenaline rush that comes with the job. But when his adoptive mother calls him back home, Jack knows he has no choice but to head back to Strong. A string of small fires has been taxing the resources of the small town's fire department and all the signs point to the very real threat that Strong has an arsonist at work in its midst.

It isn't long before Jack realizes that he isn't the only citizen of Strong to return home lately. Lily Cortez is back, having given up a lucrative career to come back home. Though Jack left, hoping to save Lily from the heartbreak he knew he would cause her, he can't stay away from her once he knows she's again nearby. If anything, she is more perfect than he remembered, and just being near her is enough to drive him crazy. But Lily has a secret about why she moved back—a stalker has been following her tracks. A stalker with a matchbook. As he prowls closer to Lily, his fires grow even more dangerous. And if Jack can't find him in time, he might lose Lily once and for all.

Anne Marsh has a remarkable talent for creating characters whose faults are as fascinating as their talents and higher emotions. When we first meet Jack, he is so determined to be a loner that his behavior borders on selfishness. His fear of confronting his past and his regrets over Lily make him a character that isn't immediately easy to love. But as the story unfolds, and Jack is given a chance to prove himself, that heroic character that he's tried so hard to hide shines through, and by the end I was convinced that he deserved his happy ending.

Lily's strength and determination shines through in every one of her scenes. Though Jack's image of her is of a sweetly innocent, near-silent teenager, in reality she is a stellar heroine, with quirks and talents and an enormous amount of pride in her hometown and the life she has carved out for herself there. Her firm roots are at direct odds with Jack's near desperate need to keep moving, and it made for an interesting tension between them throughout the course of the story, and made their fight for a future that much more powerful.

The chemistry between these two are completely and totally incendiary. Though physically intense, the enormous amount of emotions that have been packed into Jack and Lily's long relationship are always close to the surface, and make each scene utterly compelling. This is one of those rare stories where a single touch can have the same impact as scenes of action, and I adored watching these two together.

The town of Strong is as much a character in this book as any other. From the dusty main street to the crumbling old firehouse, I could easily picture the world of the story and came to know it as well as its residents. Nonna—Jack's mother—is a no-nonsense, resilient woman whose heart is completely wrapped up in her adopted sons. It was easy to feel her conflict, watching her boys try to find their happiness, as well as her deep pride in her hometown and its people.

The mark of a good suspense novel is when a reader cannot fathom how these characters survive the dangers they are facing and the villain who holds them in his power. This book, then, was a pretty impressive suspense novel. By the time Lily's stalker made his final stand, I was genuinely worried for both Jack and Lily and for Strong. The tension in this book ratchets up steadily, with glimpses into the psyche of the man watching Lily and Jack, until the danger seems too real and too complete to allow our hero and heroine an escape.

Anne Marsh has laid the foundation for an excellent series with her first Smoke Jumpers novel. The town of Strong is wonderfully colorful, and its residents memorable. I loved the chemistry between Jack and Lily and the way they managed to grow together over the course of the story, and can't wait to discover the stories of Jack's brothers in the books yet to come!
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