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Trial by Fire - Jo Davis A hot and buff firefighter meets a curvaceous, sassy heroine and together they create steamy love scenes and get entangled with a twisted mind bent on wreaking havoc. All these ingredients stirred my enthusiasm upon reading the back blurb of the cover and Trail By Fire was placed in the highest regions of my TRP. Firefighters are, like cowboys, something new on my shelves to explore and sample from, and while Howard “six pack” Paxton and Kat McKenna definitely endeared me with their entertaining story it remained on the level of an entertaining story. Now there is nothing wrong with entertaining, I spend welcome hours getting to know the boys and gal from Station Five but somehow I expected more from the story.

Howard is all American hero material, leading a crew of firefighters who consider him to be their rock in stormy weather. He is a mountain of a man with an imperiously “do not mess with me vibe”, he is also serious, gentle, quiet, innate sensual, attentive and almost too good to be true. For many readers I think Howard is a dream come true and one über-alpha who will be very much appreciated. Unfortunately for me he doesn’t rock my personal boat all that much where a hero gets under my skin and makes me sigh in female bliss. Perhaps it were his character traits, I almost felt like he had a golden halo surrounding his head at times. If it wasn’t for the nightmares haunting him, for certain commitment issues, he just would be too good to be true.

Now Katherine McKenna, Kat for friends, is someone I just cheered for, I love it when the author brings a woman to life who is all woman. Curves, ass and a healthy appetite to boot, and most important, she isn’t ashamed for her curves nor her appetite! Still, she gets the comments from a former lover that makes her ponder whether mister right actually exist. When Kate witnesses a fire she meets the mountainous firefighter Lieutenant and an instant attraction snaps between them, even under such an extreme situation one can notice the opposite sex.

The romance factor entails from fooling around in the park to going hot and heavy as only two newly lovebirds can do, in the bedroom, outside the bedroom, thinking about it or talking about it. This was definitely not bad to read though when it tended to get serious Kat and Howard go through all the typical relationship stuff, with Howard being an emotional hermit as the catalyst in the whole. I could understand them both in their issues and where they were coming from yet Howard will edge on the border of a big no no for some readers and it raised my eyebrow as well. I was well on my way in the story when the separate issues fall in to place and leading towards and ending where romance and plot worked together to give a thrilling completion of the whole story.

The plot is one where I, as the reader, already knew certain things before the characters discovered them. It was where I found out the arsonist was one cruel man who enjoyed to execute his plan step by step. Reveling in the anticipation of what effect his deeds would have on the firefighters of Station Five. Though I already had my suspicions as to where the origin of certain things came from I have to say that I didn’t see the ending coming as it did, and the ball kept rolling in the revelations. It is also with Howards gruesome past what made me feel for him and the way it is written within the story aimed for maximum emotional effect.

As this is the opening novel of The Firefighters of Station Five series a group of characters is introduced and immediately there are the ones who captured my notice. We have Captain Sean Tanner, Julian “Party-Like-You’re-Gonna-Die” Salvatore, Tommy Skyler, Zack Knight and Eve Marshall. I already flagged Capt. Sean Tanner and Zack Knight as my personal favorites, like I have no doubt each reader will have their favorites in this band of brothers. Each brought their own vibe to the image of being a close group, willing to go the distance for each other in dire circumstances and with this Davis perfectly nailed the essence of what is so important among the firefighters to do their often adrenaline enhanced job. Add the birthday barbeque where every firefighter was in attendance to celebrate and catch up with one another and the author couldn’t go wrong anymore. It is with small facts that revealed itself throughout the story regarding each individual of Station Five that made me sit up and take notice, teasing me what would be behind the personal matter of certain characters.

All in all I can say Trail By Fire was nice…nice, charming and pleasant to read, and though it didn’t knock the ball out of the park for me concerning the hero Jo Davis did a great job of keeping me invested in the rest of the crew to buy the next story: Under Fire. Juicy romance, easy-to-relate-to characters, a well orchestrated plot and a surprising ending are the master ingredients of Trail By Fire and is something most readers will enjoy to read about.

Quote Howard:
Uh-oh. Discussing a woman’s weight wasn’t a bullet. More like a rocket launcher.
Aimed at a man’s balls.

Quote Howard:
How could three little words make him feel like a king and scare the crap out of him at the same time?