Series: Search and Rescue #2
Published by Sourcebooks Casablanca
Publication Date: June 7th 2016
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Buy Online: Amazon ♥ Barnes & Noble ♥ Kobo
Disclaimer: I voluntarily reviewed a copy of this book. All opinions stated are solely mine.
In the remote Rocky Mountains, lives depend on the Search & Rescue brotherhood. But in a place this far off the map, trust is hard to come by and secrets can be murder…
As a Motorcycle Club member and firefighter, Ian Walsh is used to riding the line between the good guys and the bad. He may owe the Club his life, but his heart rests with his fire station brothers…and with the girl he’s loved since they were kids, Rory Sorenson. Ian would do anything for Rory. He’d die for her. Kill for her. Defend her to his last breath-and he may just have to.
Every con in the Rockies knows Rory is the go-to girl for less-than-legal firearms, and for the past few years, she’s managed to keep the peace between dangerous factions by remaining strictly neutral. But when she defends herself against a brutal attack, Rory finds herself catapulted into the center of a Motorcycle Club war-with only Ian standing between her and a threat greater than either of them could have imagined.
Who knew that a small mountain town like Simpson could be such a hotbed of criminal activity, murder and intrigue? I’m really loving this series, especially the heroines and wish I didn’t have to wait so long for the next book.
FAN THE FLAMES continues from where Hold Your Breath ends and improves on the drama, suspense and action but also throws in a good dose of humor to lighten the tension. The interactions between Ian and Rory left me in stitches but I like that Ms. Ruggle gave us characters that were unexpected and endearing.
Ian Walsh is a man with his loyalties split between his firefighting brethren and the motorcycle club that he grew up in, but the one thing that’s not in question is his feelings for Rory Sorenson and his total dedication to her. He’s been named a person of interest in the murder case that has captivated the entire town, but he’ll defend her to the death when his MC Brothers decide to attack her, a choice that pits him against his club.
Rory grew up off the grid with paranoid survivalists for parents, an upbringing that has left her socially awkward and out of her element with everyday interactions, especially with the man she’s had a crush on since she was a pre-teen, but one thing she isn’t is helpless and that’s a lesson anyone who wants to take advantage of her learns the hard way. As the owner of a gun shop, she does business with the less than savory side of humanity and knows that she has to be tough to deal with her criminally minded customers, but it helps to have someone at her back.
Rory and Ian are an unlikely pairing but are perfect for each other. With his looks and associations, one would expect Ian to be a cocky know-it-all, but he’s really a patient and determined man who was quite adept at handling Rory. He really deserves the moniker of ‘Rory-whisperer’ because dealing with her at times was like trying to domesticate a wild cat. Rory is fiercely independent and self-reliant but I liked seeing her take a chance and connect with new friends for the first time, as well as realize that there was a life outside her bunker within a community that respected her and would come to her aid when she needed help.
One thing I enjoy about this series is that the relationship drama is really low, which balances out all the other action going on. While the books in this series are all stand alone, there is an overarching mystery that runs through the series, so I would recommend reading in order for the best experience.
The server arrived with their food, and Rory was so relieved by the interruption that she could’ve leapt over the table and kissed her on the mouth. Instead, she settled for thanking her with a little too much fervor.
“You’re welcome,” she said, although she gave Rory a wary glance.
Rory shoveled brisket in her mouth so she wouldn’t continue revealing how ignorant she was about relationships. After a few bites, she realized that Ian hadn’t started eating. Instead, he was still watching her thoughtfully.
“What?” she asked through a mouthful. Obviously, filling her mouth with food was not going to stop her from embarrassing herself.
“You were homeschooled, right?” he asked, finally taking a bite. His gaze stayed on her, though.
“Yes.” She focused on sliding her fork into her greens. The question felt like a criticism, but she knew she was sensitive about her lack of social skills, so she tried to keep the defensive scowl off her face. Ian was probably just asking to get to know her better. Wasn’t that why people went on dates? Or non-date dates?
“Did you go to college?” Even though they’d met over a decade ago, they’d been able to be friends only after her parents had died. She supposed there were still lots of things they didn’t know about each other.
“I didn’t go away to school, but I’ve taken some online classes. Mostly business ones—marketing, accounting, that type of thing. Stuff that can help me with the shop.”
“Huh.” That one syllable was loaded with meaning.
Narrowing her eyes, Rory turned her head to look at his profile as he studied his plate. “What?”
His gaze met hers. “Have you ever had a boyfriend?”
Her blush returned. She kept holding eye contact, but it was hard. She forced a shrug, hoping it appeared casual. “Not really.”
Rory answered with another shrug. She turned back to her plate, stabbing her fork in a piece of meat.
After a short silence, he asked, “Have you been on a date before?”
The unchewed food went down with her panicked gulp, painfully scraping her esophagus and making her choke. Ian slapped her on the back with enough force to shove her toward the table and almost plant her face in her plate of food. Coughing, she turned her head to glare at him.
“Is that what you consider first aid, Mr. Fireman?” she rasped between coughs.
He lifted one shoulder. “It worked. You’re not choking anymore.”
“No thanks to the body blow,” she said, taking a drink of water. Her throat still ached, but the positive part of almost choking to death was that it had changed the topic, and she didn’t have to answer his humiliating question.
“So, this your first date?” he asked, and she almost growled.
“You okay, Rory?” For the second time that evening, she was tempted to kiss someone who’d interrupted them. This time, it was Winston Early, the fire chief, standing by their table. The lines on his usually cheery face drooped a little with concern.
“Fine, Chief,” she told him with a smile. It was impossible to be rude to Chief Early. It’d be like kicking a puppy.
After a close scrutiny of her face, he returned to his normal jolly self. “Good. How’ve you been? I heard you had an unwelcome visitor a few nights ago.”
Her molars clamped together. Everyone in town seemed to have a direct line into the details of her life. Still, this was the kindly chief, so she tried to sound as nonannoyed as possible. Rory thought she probably partially succeeded. “Yes. I think that’s over with, though.” She ignored the quiet scoffing noise from Ian. “Stop into the shop when you get a chance. The Mossberg is ready to be picked up, and I just got in a Colt Peacemaker I think you might like.”
His eyes lit with interest even as he winced. “If I bring home one more, I’ll be sleeping on the couch indefinitely. Doris called me a gun hoarder the other day.”
“Okay.” Rory held back a smile. “Feel free to stop in and just look at it though. It’s really pretty. Ivory grips.”
Squeezing his eyes closed as if he were in pain, Early groaned. “You’re the devil, Rory Sorenson.” Pivoting around, he took three steps away from their booth before tossing over his shoulder, “I’ll be in tomorrow.” Then he stomped back to his table, where Doris was waiting.
Ian huffed a laugh. “You’re like the antimarriage counselor.”
“Not really. Doris is okay.” She gave Mrs. Early a little wave. “She doesn’t really hate his guns. Doris just knows she’s the only thing keeping his addiction in check. If she didn’t fuss over every gun he bought, there’d be no holding him back. They’d end up living in a tent in the yard, because their house would be so packed there’d be no room to even move.”
He didn’t laugh at that like she’d expected. Instead, his gaze turned distant. “There are worse addictions than gun collecting.”
It was clear where—or to whom—his mind had gone. “Julius isn’t doing any better, huh?”
Rory grimaced. “Sorry.”
“Has he been in the shop this week?” When she shook her head, he turned back to his food, jabbing at his meat as if it had offended him. “Figured. Don’t think he’s left his armchair for days. Someone’s supplying him with booze.” A muscle in his cheek flexed as he poked at his food some more.
Completely at a loss about what she should do, Rory reached out to pat his forearm awkwardly. He went still under her touch, and she wondered if he felt the same surge of awareness she did whenever he touched her. The moment stretched as they stared at each other. His focus on her was so complete, so intense, it felt like the imaginary spotlight that followed Ian had turned its beam on her. For a short time, she believed that she was the center of Ian Walsh’s universe, and it felt wonderful—and terrifying. The clatter of a dish broke the spell, and she pulled back her hand, returning it to her lap. Heavy silence covered their table, and she looked anywhere but at Ian. For some reason, people had been interrupting them for the entire meal. Why had everyone chosen to leave them in peace?
, Rory thought, smiling at an expectant waitress, best .