Unless you’re totally new around here, you have probably heard of my love of author Susan May Warren. When I heard she was independently releasing 1 ebook a MONTH this summer in a new romantic suspense trilogy, I was super excited! This new “Montana Fire” series is a prequel series, of sorts, to an upcoming series with Revell Publishers (the “Wild Montana Skies” series).
I have since read all 3 of these. They are quick reads, each one a little over 200 pages. Hence, this post with snippets of my opinion on all 3. For time’s sake, I have not included the plot synopsis of each book, but if you click each book cover it will take you to the Goodreads page for more info on each one.
This series is full of action and drama, like a hang-on-to-your-seat (or parachute, if you will), thrill ride from start to end. In the middle of the chaos, moments of slightly sizzling romance (while always remaining classy), deep emotion, and strong messages of faith unfold.
The setting and career featured are unique — the Cabinet Mountains near Glacier National Park in Montana, and a team of forest firefighters and smoke jumpers. (Yes, they jump out of planes into fires.) Definitely a new-to-me perspective, and profession unexplored in the genre to my knowledge. Susan has done her research and offers an eye-opening look at the danger and sacrifice of forest firefighters.
Just when you think the perilous situations these smoke jumpers get in can’t get more complicated, they do. Since I’ve read all 3 of these I feel like I actually survived a river rescue, aggressive grizzly attack, skydiving AND plane crashes, not to mention numerous forest fires and arson threats.
I referenced book 1 in that one Instagram #bookphotochallenge assignment pairing a book and song lyrics. I now say that NEEDTOBREATHE’s Hard Love could be a theme song for this whole series.
#1 Where There’s Smoke
~smoke jumpers Jed Ransom and Kate Burns~
“Complex” doesn’t begin to describe the tangle of history between Jed and Kate. It was established off page and opens this story with action and tension, with ties to fire and a mutual history, both deeply respectful of Jock Burns (Kate’s dad).
Susan works references to fire and parachuting all over the place, and it works so well! Like this quote: “He wasn’t sure how he’d gone from standing at the edge of her world to an all-out dive into what he’d been quietly longing for his entire life, but he wasn’t going to look up, see a possible tear in his canopy.” (from chapter 7)
Main theme/lesson: Learning to cling to faith, that God is always to sustain you.
#2 Playing With Fire
~smoke jumper Conner Young and artist Liza Beaumont~
Let me note here that Susan has been clever and insightful with her “heated” titles of this series, tying in with the theme and hinting at the drama and action of each.
This is my favorite of the series. For a few crazy pages, I thought I might be ok with the idea of skydiving (you’ll know what I mean when you meet Conner and read that scene). Thankfully, I’ve since had a reality check and can say I won’t plan on jumping out of a perfectly good plane unless my life depends on it.
Conner and Liza have a shared history, as well, which is briefly but thoroughly covered in the first few chapters. Fans of the Christiansen family series will be a happily familiar with the setting of their initial meeting, at a fire in Minnesota.
Main theme/lesson: Explores the meaning and implications of promises — that actions can speak as a promise even when words fail. That a promise is a display of hope.
#3 Burnin’ For You
~smoke jumper Reuben Marshall and bomber pilot Gilly Priest~
This story is the one where we *finally* get Reuben and Gilly’s story, an attraction that has been hinted in the previous books. They learn a lesson in teamwork and trust when their team’s lives depend on their abilities to battle the elements and find help (and all of this while realizing their chemistry and fighting an arsonist.)
One important line was delivered by Gilly’s sister, and if I may paraphrase, she encouraged Gilly to not letting her fears determine or failures dictate her choices or limit her potential.
The arc of a mystery arsonist is finally solved in this one. It was well threaded through the 3 different stories — I didn’t suspect who it was at all!
Main theme/lesson: Trusting God to handle your life is the only way to have true peace. And, illustrating how God waits for us to choose Him, seek Him.