Against the Wind

The Christmas Clock

Dangerous Passions

Desert Heat

The Devil's Necklace

The Dream

Fanning the Flame

The Fire Inside

Heartless

Midnight Sun

Hot Rain

Night Secrets

Perfect Sin

Reese's Bride

Royal's Bride

Rule's Bride

The Secret

Scent of Roses

Silk & Steel

 
Against the Fire
by Kat Martin
(Mira, $7.99, PG-13) ISBN 978-07783-2930-5
****
Book two in Martinís trilogy about the Raines brothers is a fun book to read. I fell in love with Gabriel Raines and struggled with deciding which of the Raines brothers was my favorite. Gabeís heroine isnít as strong a woman as I would have liked, but the story is still vastly entertaining.

Gabriel Raines grew up in Wind Canyon, Wyoming but now lives in Texas. He runs a construction company that concentrates on renovating older buildings. He owns several and is working on several others. Money is not an object at this point in his career, and he has been thinking a lot about finding a woman to love and settle down. He even purchased a ranch in the Hill Country, hoping to one day own quarter horses.

Mattie Baker is a local architect who volunteers at the local Family Abuse Center. She is a good architect and determined to build her career. She grew up poor and never wants to go back to that. Her father abandoned them and so far in her life, any man she has been involved with has left a legacy of leaving her. She has major trust issues.

Someone is out to get Gabe and has been setting some fires which are destroying the work his crews are doing. After the first blaze, a young man who was accused of starting fires before was brought in. Police thought he was probably the one. But Mattie, who knew Angel Ramirez from the shelter, was determined to prove his innocence. She confronted the police and in doing so, caught Gabeís eye. When he ran into her at a club, and she was dressed to the nines, their fates were sealed.

Mattie and Gabe have a hot relationship. Gabe falls fast and hard, but is willing to back off when he realizes that Mattie is only looking for loose and short-term. When Angel is cleared, the path to more intimacy is smoother. Then Angel, determined to prove he did not do it, is hurt when he asks too many questions in the neighborhood. He is in the hospital and Mattie and Gabe begin a search for the arsonist. Gabe calls in his brother Devlin, who runs a security company for help, but the arsonist is getting better and bolder, putting them all at risk.

This story is fast paced and totally engaging. The reader is pulled in by the romance and the suspense. Gabe is a great hero. He is macho without being suffocating and he is romantic and hot. He agonizes over Angel, feeling guilty for asking for his help. He agonizes even more when someone dies in one of the fires. And he is determined to find out who has it out for him.

Mattie is not quite such a great heroine. She is kind, caring and easily establishes her stance with Gabe. But she is also really leery. This lack of enthusiasm around her past and her belief that she is not lovable doused my ability to totally buy into her character. At times she was sullen and almost pouted. When she backed off from Gabe just when he needed her, she lost some of her appeal. Luckily, the author doesnít give up on her or the romance and their story is ultimately satisfying.

The arsonist is portrayed as evil and his identity is hidden until the end. While his motivation may be a tad far-fetched, it is still believable in the context of the story. There is a nice side story involving Gabeís foreman and Mattieís best friend that adds to the storyline. Readers of the series get to meet Devlin once more and this tale really sets him up for his installment coming out next month.

Overall, Against the Fire is worth the time to read and fits nicely in the series. Kat Martin is a strong writer and makes it hard for a reader to dislike the book even when they donít like everything about the experience. I enjoyed this more than an average book even if it isnít quite as strong an entry as Against the Wind.

--Shirley Lyons


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