Zack fights fires and saves lives, yet his own thirst for life has run dry—until he comes to the rescue of hardheaded, sharp-tongued exotic dancer Corrine Shannon, who sparks a carnal appetite that has the normally shy hero burning out of control.
This is book #2 in Jo Davis' sexy Station 5 firefighter series, and one of my most anticipated reads of 2009. I was so enamored of Howard in book #1, and I couldn't wait to dive into the rest of the series. Bonus - Howard makes several appearances in "Under Fire", and it's always such treat to spend time with him. (Alert: READ AT YOUR OWN RISK AS SPOILERS MAY APPEAR).
The issues (beware of spoilers):
Poor Zack! For once we see a real life hero risking his life and almost not making it through a very dangerous situation. Now Zack does what he's trained to do, and he does it alongside some equally trained and reliable firefighters, but even under the safest conditions, things can go wrong and not everyone makes it in the end. (At this point I had to email Jo and tell her she's making me cry over Zack, and of course she was very happy to hear this LOL). But this is not the end of trouble for our resilient hero. The shy and private firefighter is already suffering something fierce when we first meet him, due to dire circumstances out of his control, so as you can imagine, I'm immediately hurting for the poor guy. But then in a short timespan, he nearly dies saving someone, almost succumbs to pneumonia , gets shot at, is left for dead, gets beat up and tortured until finally you're sure that can't be anything left of him. I just didn't see the need for him to suffer as much as he did. Zack was our hero, a good guy, and I had to walk away a time or two to catch my breath, thinking "not again". Jo sure knew how to turn those screws. Just a bit too tightly.
The other thing that bothered me was the whole situation centered around Zack's troubles. He was stuck with a overwhelming burden that he had absolutely nothing to do with, but it became his sole responsibility anyway, one he was completely drowning in. It was such an unfair situation. Yet almost as frustrating as what he was suffering through was the obvious and tidy resolution to that very problem. It just didn't ring true that it would be solved so easily. I'm all for the HEA in all things, but I need it to be more believable.
The good stuff:
*Zack. Sexy, shy, virginal, though not because he couldn't get a date, but because he was waiting for someone reeaaaallly special to do the deed with. A woman who not only revved his engine but engaged his heart. True it seems a bit corny in this day and age, but also kinda sweet. I liked Zack a whole heck of a lot, and though I thought he took on a burden that didn't belong to him, I couldn't help but admire him for it. I can't say the same about his stubborn decision not to ask for help, because that sure got him into a lot of trouble, but he did what he felt he had to do - that was just his way.
*Corrine. I mentioned earlier that I wasn't sure I was going to like Cori, but she managed to change my mind almost immediately. As I got to know her, I thought she was the perfect partner for Zack, and not just because she was beautiful and experienced. But because she was also smart, hard-working, compassionate, and she truly cared for Zack. He needed someone like her in his life, someone who looked after him for a change.
*The hotties. And lo and behold, we get to see the other firefighters again, including the unforgettable Howard. I can't wait to find out more about each and every one of them. These guys are true heroes, but some of them are having a tough time of things, and one especially is suffering greatly from a horrific tragedy. Here we see even more bits and pieces of their stories, tantalizing glimpses of what drives them. Jo sure has her work cut out for her with this bunch.
UF isn't a bad book, but it doesn't hold a candle to "Trial By Fire". Part of what makes it special though, is the relationship between Zack and Cori. At first I didn't like Cori; she comes across as being one of those annoying women who are supposed to come across as being all tough and independent when really they are just rude and bitchy. But when darling Zack saves her life and nearly dies in the process, well, it's pretty obvious she has a bit of a wake-up call, and becomes a much more likable person. More like the type of woman I could believe Zack would fall in love with if he were to have his choice of any woman.
And I did enjoy visiting with the other fine men (and one woman) of Station 5, and am insatiably curious about their HEAs. Next up is Julian's story, "Hidden Fire", to be released December 1st. And yes, I admit, I will be grabbing that one up.Rating: **** out of *****