Review: Backburn (Fighting Fire #3) (PF 2014) by Laura Harner

Standard

Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5

Backburn coverNothing between Park Ranger Rob Hammond and disabled firefighter Scott McGregor has ever been easy.  From their early romance and traumatic breakup to their reunion in Scott’s hospital room where Scott was recovering from injuries that killed most of his crew and cost him the profession he loved.  Scott had hoped that with Rob’s reappearance, their romance and relationship was back on track.  But with one ill advised phone call to Rob’s mother, Scott has derailed that hope even though he refuses to admit it.

Scott is also having problems with PTSD and his nightmares are getting worse. The stress and strain of operating Mountain Shadows and the problems that have been popping up recently aren’t helping either.  Strange and horrifying things are happening around the campground and Scott aims to get at the causes even if he has to investigate it by himself..

Rob Hammond is faltering under the weight of the secrets he has been keeping and his efforts to become a wildland firefighter.  He is just beginning to realize that Scott’s PTSD is worse than Scott had let on and Scott’s phone call to his mother brought up painful past problems that he had pushed aside.   A run in with an old acquaintance and another call from home make Rob realize that he had some hard decisions to make and that they need to be made soon before everything he hopes to achieve goes up in flames.

When one man finally understands what he wants, the other person’s reality combusts.  When you fight fire with fire, will both of them and their relationship be burned beyond compare?

What is a backburn?  A backburn in firefighter terms means to create firebreak in path of brushfire: to prevent a brushfire from spreading by lighting another fire in its path

Reading this series is like walking towards a fire.  With each new story acting like a new step forward, the reader and Harner’s characters get closer and closer to the flames.  As the heat and the danger combine, it increases incrementally the treacherous nature of the situation these characters find themselves in as the story proceeds. Then it explodes in a ball of fire at the end in a way that will leave you dazed, a more than a little fearful and standing at a precipice with no where to go.  And you will totally love it.

Scott and Rob, the troubled duo at the heart of this series are back and in worse shape than ever.  Scott is living in denial about practically everything going on in his life.  And that state of delusion has made Scott act ill-advisedly where his and Rob’s past is concerned.   One phone call to Rob’s mother shatters Scott’s hopes about their future and Rob’s plans for them as well.  Harner also brings in the realistic element of Scott’s PTSD and his continued avoidance of any treatment.  When Scott breaks down when undergoing traumatic flashbacks to the fire that cost him everything, we are able to feel the weight of those memories and the pain they are still able to cause.  Not only do we understand why Scott is acting so impudently but we can see the consequences coming even if he doesn’t.  We can like this character even if we don’t like his actions.

Rob too has so many layers to his character.  And like Scott, we also won’t like certain aspects of his past or his persona.  But also like Scott, Harner provides us with enough personal details and back history that once we put his actions within context then that conduct starts to make sense.  Rob grows more as a character here than he has in past stories.  That growth will trigger decisions and events that we will not see coming, another marvelous element to these stories.

Fires and the devastation that comes with those who choose to become firefighters is a prevailing element here.  We see the sacrifice that is called for when someone decides on becoming a firefighter and the pain and sorrow that will follow in its path.   That Scott loves and misses his profession is clear.  So is the ultimate sacrifice his crew made and the survivor guilt that is overwhelming the only man left alive by that fire.  Harner’s vivid descriptions and emotional scenes bring Scott’s inability to deal with that fatal fire to life in breathtaking detail.  That people choose to do this challenging, dangerous, and necessary profession makes me grateful and awed.  In Scott McGregor we can see and feel the cost as well as the dedication needed to be such a firefighter.  That’s thanks to Laura Harner as well.

The ending is emotionally devastating and will leave you hanging.  This used to bother me.  But in a series and in the hands of an author who does this cliffhanger so well, it works to keep us on the ledge and happy to be there.  I can’t wait to see what happens next and so will you.

If you are new to the series, in fact the entire Pulp Friction 2014 interconnected stories, start at the beginning to get the most from these authors stories and characters.  I have listed all the series and stories below.  I consider Backburn and Fighting Fire (along with all the rest of the Pulp Friction 2014 group) to be one of ScatteredThoughtsandRogueWords Best of 2014.

Cover art by Laura Harner

Book Details:

64 pages
Published May 13th 2014 by Hot Corner Press
ISBN139781937252816
edition languageEnglish
seriesFighting Fire #3, Pulp Friction 2014 #9

 Buy Links:          Amazon              ARe

About Pulp Friction 2014: Laura Harner ~ Lee Brazil ~ Havan Fellows ~ T.A. Webb The Pulp Friction 2014 Collection. Four authors. Four Series. Twenty books. One fiery finale. Spend a year with an eclectic group of strangers brought together through circumstances, as they are tested by life, and emerge as more than friends.

The strongest bonds are forged by fire, cooled in air, smoothed by water, grounded in earth. Although each series can stand alone, we believe reading the books in the order they are released will increase your enjoyment. There will be five rounds and one final story written by all four authors.

Round One of Pulp Friction 2014:

Firestorm (Fighting Fire# 1) by Laura Harner
Cold Snap (In From the Cold# 1) by Lee Brazil
Blown Away (Where the Wind Blows# 1) by Havan Fellows
Higher Ground (Earthquake# 1) by Tom Webb

Round Two of Pulp Friction 2014:

Controlled Burn (Fighting Fire #2) by Laura Harner
Cold Comfort (In From the Cold #2) by Lee Brazil
Blown Kisses (Where the Wind Blows #2) by Havan Fellows
Moving Earth (Earthquake #2) by Tom Webb

Round Three of Pulp Friction 2014:

Backburn (Fighting Fire #3) by Laura Harner
Cold Feet (In From the Cold #3) by Lee Brazil
Blow Hard (Where the Wind Blows #3) by Havan Fellows
Tremors (Earthquake #3) by Tom Webb

 

Review: Moving Earth (Earthquake #2) (PF 2014) by T.A. Webb

Standard

Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Moving Earth coverNow that Charlie Turner has moved out of his family’s home, he has time for a personal life for the first time in ages.  After his father died, Charlie was busy working and raising his grief stricken younger brother while his mother mourned.  Now living in his own cabin on Mountain Shadows campground, Charlie is ready to reclaim his private time and he knows just who he wants to spend it with…..Amos Greene. Aloof, gorgeous, and sexy Amos Greene.  But outside of sex, does Amos want him back?

Amos Greene has more than a few personal demons to deal with.  Past experience has taught Amos that when it comes to romance, you keep it cool, keep it impersonal and temporary.  Then Amos meets Charlie Turner when Charlie comes to work on Amos’ art gallery.  Charlie isn’t satisfied with temporary and he certainly won’t settle on being just a one or two night stand.  And little by little, Amos starts to give in to Charlie’s insistence on a relationship with small steps forward and through all the walls Amos has erected over the years..

But strange, dark things are happening at Mountain Shadows and Charlie’s brother just might be in the middle of things. Soon Charlie finds himself in the middle of an investigation, and draws Amos in with him.  What they find out will have repercussions for them all….

 

Moving Earth is a perfect title for a story about families and relationships on shaky ground.  The second the T.A. Webb’s Earthquake series, the story picks up right after the end of Higher Ground.   Charlie Turner, a absolutely lovable character, has shouldered his family’s burdens after the death of his dad.  That meant trying to be everything to his teenage brother who is grieving and in emotional shock.  Not quite father, not able to be the fun big brother, Charlie is trying hard to fill a role that isn’t his and its not working.  His brother is rebelling and afraid especially when Charlie moves out of the house into his own cabin at his mother’s insistence.  Webb understands complicated family dynamics and it shows in the dialog and descriptions of the family interactions that come into play in Moving Earth.

In a story full of complicated characters, each with their own baggage of personal issues, Damon Turner, the troubled younger brother, almost steals the story away from Charlie and Amos.  Smart mouthed and snarky, Damon hides his fears and anger behind his aggressive behavior and disturbing circle of friends.  This is the character we fear for and want to hold close.  His actions towards his brother and classmates are cries for help.  It makes Damon believable and someone we can relate to.  And Charlie’s anger at and concern for his brother is something we get as well.  Damon’s feelings about his brother’s sexuality are all over the place.  Damon is at times both hurtful, hurling epithets at Charlie and then with an about face, he is accepting of his brother and Amos. In total, Damon is that teenager is search of stability and love who has had his support jerked out from under him in the most traumatic way.  Clearly Damon isn’t dealing with it very well, nor would any teenager in his place.  T.A. Webb navigates this tricky, prickly time for the brothers with sensitivity and authenticity that just deepens the whole feeling behind Moving Earth.

Poor Charlie.  Between his brother and Amos, almost every relationship he has or wants needs an amazing amount of work.  Charlie has to force Amos to look at him in a different manner than Amos’ previous sexual conquests.  I liked the fact that Charlie is not a doormat here and that he demands the respect he knows he deserves.  And Amos, with his pain-filled awful childhood, is a tough character  to crack open. It must be Amos’ decision to open up and become vulnerable once more in order to accept Charlie and his need for a real relationship.  This is a delicate juggling act that Webb handles as well as he does the one between Charlie and Damon.

As with all the interconnected Pulp Friction 2014 series, there are several mysteries running through all four stories and series.  Here the author starts to amp up the suspense that surrounds the riddles of the dark events happening at Mountain Shadows campground.  Dead, mutilated animals are being found in the woods nearby and who is behind this is anyone’s guess.  There will be clues and perhaps some false trails laid but all are quaranteed to keep you glued to this story and all the series that go with it.   And the ending here?  It will startle you and send you back to the first book looking for clues and more information.  Loved it, hated it (for leaving me hanging), and definitely wanting more.  Much, much more.

Did all this happen in 40 pages?  Why yes it did and that fact alone continues to amaze me.  Its like wondering how all those things fit into the magician’s hat.  It’s astonishing even as I marvel that it all works so wondrously well.   I love Webb’s Earthquake series for its complicated sibling relationship as much as I do for its equally complex romance.  Don’t pass this up but start with the first story Higher Ground.

The Pulp Friction 2014 (and 2013) series can all be read separately but they work best when read together to get the full impact of the characters, their intertwined relationships and the intricate plot all these terrific authors have devised.  I highly recommend them all but make sure to start at the first story in each series and build up from there.  I have listed the stories as they are being released below.  Not listed as yet is Round Four but that is coming.

Cover art by Laura Harner

Buy Links:         Amazon         ARe

Book Details:

ebook, 40 pages
Published April 30th 2014 by A Bear on Books (first published April 29th 2014)
ISBN139781310924866
edition languageEnglish
seriesEarthquake #2, Pulp Friction 2014 #8

About Pulp Friction 2014:  Laura Harner ~ Lee Brazil ~ Havan Fellows ~ T.A. Webb The Pulp Friction 2014 Collection. Four authors. Four Series. Twenty books. One fiery finale. Spend a year with an eclectic group of strangers brought together through circumstances, as they are tested by life, and emerge as more than friends.

The strongest bonds are forged by fire, cooled in air, smoothed by water, grounded in earth. Although each series can stand alone, we believe reading the books in the order they are released will increase your enjoyment.  There will be five rounds and one final story written by all four authors.

Round One of Pulp Friction 2014:

Firestorm (Fighting Fire# 1) by Laura Harner
Cold Snap (In From the Cold# 1) by Lee Brazil
Blown Away (Where the Wind Blows# 1) by Havan Fellows
Higher Ground (Earthquake# 1) by Tom Webb

Round Two of Pulp Friction 2014:

Controlled Burn (Fighting Fire #2) by Laura Harner
Cold Comfort (In From the Cold #2) by Lee Brazil
Blown Kisses (Where the Wind Blows #2) by Havan Fellows
Moving Earth (Earthquake #2) by Tom Webb

Round Three of Pulp Friction 2014:

Backburn (Fighting Fire #3) by Laura Harner
Cold Feet (In From the Cold #3) by Lee Brazil
Blow Hard (Where the Wind Blows #3) by Havan Fellows
Tremors (Earthquake #3) by Tom Webb