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by Vella Munn
Description: A teacher's determination to retrace the steps her pioneer ancestors took thrusts her into romance and danger. All teacher Chera James wants from rugged, independent Kade Morgan is permission to set foot on his private forestland. As the only female in a male household, she refuses to be treated like a hothouse flower, especially by a man who symbolizes everything the word masculine embodies. She has the map of the trail her ancestors took during their trek west and is prepared to take her own journey, alone. Inner flames fuel the passion between Chera James and Kade Morgan, but their romance and lives might not survive the human danger lurking in the summer-dry forest.
eBook Publisher: Calderwood Books, 2007 2007
eBookwise Release Date: July 2008
3 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [343 KB]
Reading time: 221-310 min.
"A raging forest fire in all its deadly drama eats its way toward the forest as Chera James, a teacher, hurls along a horribly rutted path to find help in stopping it. Coming upon a logging crew securing logs onto trucks, she finds a place to park her car and jumps out to confront a grizzly of a man demanding what she was doing there. 'I'm looking for a man,' she tells him and loses all her professional poise as his stare bores into hers. Thus, Chera meets Kade Morgan and the opportunity to admire his physique as he and the other men fight the blaze until it is nothing more than a smoldering black area marking where trees and dry brush once stood. Later, she explains she needs to spend time on his property to obtain a grant for her class and he reluctantly agrees to see her 'Tomorrow night. After dark.' Despite Chera's brother and father telling her to stay away from Kade Morgan, Chera's dreams of creating the trail her ancestors traveled to help populate the forestland of Washington state forces her to return to Kade's home the next night. After convincing him to let her check out that portion of his land that her ancestors probably passed through, he agrees, but with a whole list of ground rules. The agreement sets incidents into action that eventually threatens Chera's and Kade's lives even as passion grows to a white-hot level. The dance of romance is complicated when Chera learns Kade thinks she is part of the crew who is trying to steal his trees. To add to their emotional strain, someone seems out to get them when a small plane swoops and dives overhead, scaring the horses they are riding. A short time later, another fire starts adding to the dangers they face together. Romance novels used to be my main reading material, then I grew bored with the sameness of all the stories. So when I first decided to review Summer Flames I expected to be bored. Surprise dominated my emotional state as I began to read and it did not take me long to realize that Summer Flames was not the ordinary romance with which I had become bored. The reader gets a small bird's eye view of the horror and danger of forest fires and how these fires affect the people living in or near the forest. This look at the foolish acts of carelessness that allows such a danger to appear may just help many of us be a little more careful how we treat our forest lands. Life is at stake here. Summer Flames is a well-written romance story incorporating real life drama with a life changing relationship of man and woman. True-to-life characters make the story come alive and the reader slips inside the story, making the events personal and nerve-racking. A must-read for all romance lovers."--Lucille P Robinson, Alternative-Read.com Reviewer
"Fire! Please, help. Fire!"
The words swirled back at Chera James. Desperate to be heard, she stuck her head even further out her car window. Her tires on the dry logging road kicked up so much dust she could barely see the tree cutting equipment near the top of the hill, or the men working there.
A roar from a fully loaded logging truck effectively erased her scream. Choking on dust, Chera pulled her head back inside and held onto the steering wheel with all her strength. The vehicle bounced wickedly over a deep rut, then threatened to high center on a boulder.
If she ruined her not-yet-paid for car trying to get help, she'd--What was she thinking? Her car didn't matter.
"Lady! What the blame blasted--" She glimpsed the silhouette of a bearded man to her right but was afraid to stop for fear her car would roll backward on the steep grade. She gave the man a desperate, open mouthed stare, then again focused on what passed for a level parking spot near where the rest of the men were working on chain saws, securing the loads on the two logging trucks, doing whatever it was a crew did in the woods.
With a near shoulder dislocating effort, she yanked the wheel to the left and managed to find space between a couple of pickups that looked nearly as big as those monster trucks she'd once seen crushing a line of cars at a county fair. She pushed open her door and stepped out. The truck to her left had to be twice as tall as her vehicle.
Fire! Five desperate minutes ago she'd seen flames, heading away from the narrow logging road at the bottom of the mountain. The flames were licking their way toward summer dry brush and evergreens.
"Lady! What the devil--"
"Fire!" she screamed up at the man who suddenly appeared. "There's a fire. It--"
Twin vices clamped around her upper arms and she was pulled within an inch of a big, broad male chest sheathed in overworked flannel.
"Where?" he demanded. His breath, warm and insistent, hit her forehead and sent her hair flying away from her face. "Where?"
Although he continued to grip her so tightly that she was rapidly losing circulation in her arms, she managed to jerk her head in the direction she'd come from. "Down there. On the flat. Just after the turnoff to this road."
"We don't have time to talk," she interrupted. "There's no one around, no one to stop it. We have--"
He released her and spun away, yelling for everyone to jump into their rigs and haul down the mountain. As the men responded to his command, he whirled back around.
She saw his leathered hand snake toward her but didn't have time to do more than think about shying away before he again imprisoned her. Without saying a word, he began dragging her with him.
"Wait!" She planted her heels. At least she tried to. In truth, she felt like a small dog being pulled behind an impatient master. "What are you--"
"You're coming with me."
I can't argue that. "Won't I be in the way? I've never fought a fire, never even been near one."
Obviously the man wasn't interested in either her question or explanation, not that she could blame him. Giving up on the ludicrous idea of beating him in a wrestling match, she let him steer her through the maze of equipment. She thought he'd take her to his pickup and anticipated a wild ride over a wash-board road in a powerful rig.
Instead, he boosted her into the dirty cab of a massive vehicle that had been painted Forest Service green years and years ago. When it roared to life and began lumbering down the hill, she grabbed the open window frame and held on for dear life.
She thought about reminding the man that he'd have to take her back to her car once the fire was out, if they lived that long, but a glance at his intense profile was all the hint she needed. Whatever was on his mind right now, her comfort and safety wasn't part of it. Besides, how could she think of anything except the fire--and its potential destruction?
"I was driving along, trying to find the logging road, when I came around a corner and there it was. It looked like a river, a red, angry, smoking river."
"The fire," she explained. He held the steering wheel prisoner in his powerful hands. His body was hunched forward as if by sheer will he could hold the vehicle together long enough to reach their destination, and she sensed an all consuming concentration in his taut body, his deep eyes. "I was talking about the fire."
"One week, one lousy week."
"What about a week?"
He flicked a glance at her, then went back to staring at the snake-like path ahead of him. "What are you doing here?"
"I was--ow!" She rubbed the top of her head where she'd hit it on the cab roof. "Can't you go any slower?"
Of course he couldn't. What made her think any different? Chera focused on the road, or what passed for one. It had apparently been carved out of the wilderness by a bulldozer or something, but only a fool would call the job complete. As they slid around a switchback turn, she prayed the man would stay away from the steep drop-off. She should have stayed home where she belonged, where people knew the meaning of safety and restraint. Only, if she did, she might never do anything with her life except teach high school history.
"What is this?" She indicated the vehicle. "It's terribly heavy; I can tell."
"A thousand gallon engine's like that."
That didn't tell her a whole lot. "What does it do?"
"Pump water. What are you doing here?"
She focused on her surroundings. Thank heavens! The worst of the mountain was behind them. In a few more minutes they'd be on the graveled part. "I'm looking for a man."
He gave her an unfathomable glance. "Are you?"