Smoke & Fire

Coffee Shop Series, Book 7

Thank you, God, for making my home in Hurricane Country!!

I do not think I have ever been more grateful for where I live than I am after reading Smoke & Fire. One of my greatest fears my entire life has been fire. As a child our house had a wood-burning fireplace, and our house was in the middle of twenty acres of trees. Everything around us was flammable. After seeing our closest (about ½ mile away) neighbor’s house burn, that was it. I cannot even begin to imagine living in a place that has a fire season. Not only would it be terrifying but seeing so much beauty go up in flames would be heartbreaking. Although I have great admiration for those who fight the fires and those who choose to leave their homes and return knowing it will likely not be the last time they are told to evacuate. Nonetheless, I will stick to the somewhat predictable hurricanes on the Gulf Coast.

Katie Cross continues to delight in Book 7 of the Coffee Shop Series. Of course, we would expect nothing less from the Queen of the Clean Contemporary Romance. Pineville is one of my all-time favorite vacation spots. However, this trip to Pineville was quite intense at times, and not just because of the unpredictable growing fire. The evolution of Bastian and Dahlia’s relationship is fun to watch. I literally laughed out loud at some of Dahlia’s antics.

Dahlia is basically single-handedly managing the Frolicking Moose Coffee Shop since Ellie left. Dahlia landed in Pineville after the demise of a long-term relationship and months of pulling around an RV visiting family. She chose Pineville as her temporary home because she has a cousin who works at Adventure as a camp counselor. (I would love to rent a cabin at Adventura for a week or so.) She does not really know many people except those she deals with through the coffee shop.

In walks Bastian, a broad-shouldered, very serious, wildland firefighter. He comes to the Frolicking Moose for two reasons – coffee and wi-fi. He does not like small talk. He just wants to be left alone to work on his laptop.

That is until Bastian finds himself in such a predicament that the only way out is to ask for help. What Bastian asks Dahlia to do goes above and beyond a favor as mundane as feeding his cat. She not only has to decide if she will help him but also how she can help him without knowing anything about him. Bastian will be gone for two weeks fighting the fire that threatens Pineville. He will have very little to no reception in the mountains. If Dahlia is going to help him, she must be able to do it on her own. Additionally, she can tell no one what she is doing. The secret he confides in her cannot be repeated. This is crucial to the success of this endeavor. His best friends from high school, a group fondly referred to as the “Merry Idiots,” do not even know this secret. No one really knows the pressure Bastian is under. Bastian’s family needs him but asking for help is very unfamiliar. Dahlia must succeed.

Although Bastian desperately needs Dahlia’s help, it does not take long for her video messages and smile to become a highlight in his day while in the forest fighting the newest fire. He begins to look forward to her updates as she slowly breaks down the walls that have engulfed him for so long.

Smoke & Fire is a case of opposites attract. One has the weight of the world on his shoulders, a weight he has always carried alone, while the other is carefree, with little to no responsibilities outside the Frolicking Moose. Each could be exactly what the other needs. Then again, this could spell disaster.