I have one word for this novel: Intense! There are varying degrees of subject matter that is enhanced by the author’s intensity and attention to detail, and it hammers home just how dangerous, serious and important the job is for the men and women who fight forest fires.
I’ll admit that I found the meticulous attention to details a bit overwhelming at times. The author was extremely precise in his descriptions of the devices, their set up, their use and the ramifications of their performance in the field. His attention to detail translated to me a deep respect for the subject matter that he writes about in Pure Heat and I can respect that.
Once Mr. Buchman set up the background, then he embarked on really fleshing out his hero, Steve, and his heroine, Carly. They both have serious issues to overcome. Steve has mostly physical challenges and some internal angst whereas Carly has a lot of internal issues that she has yet to heal from. At first they circle one another, like a cat assessing his/her opponent. But once the author gets into the swing of delving into their heads using internal and external dialogue, the two protagonists start to shine and their personalities suckered me in. They were great together and oftentimes it was funny to watch them try to resist the attraction. I enjoyed how they played off of each other and how they slowly found themselves unable to resist the other at first physically, then emotionally. Somehow, those two injured souls saw what no one else saw and that connection allowed love to bloom between them.
The characters of Henderson, Beale and Kee brought some gravity to the story as well as suspense, drama and action. They leant an air reminiscent of James Bond coupled with any military spy movie you could think of which really spiced up the novel to heated proportions, the forest fire notwithstanding. Trying to tell a romance story amongst the extreme violence of fighting a raging inferno on top of figuring out how to protect the fire fighters from some serious weaponry was a challenge Mr. Buchman met head on and succeeded while providing me a tale that kept me on the edge of my seat. Very impressive.
I enjoyed the camaraderie amongst the secondary characters and liked how integral they were to Steve and Carly. It was a nice touch and provided depth and connection to the protagonists.
The happy ever after is more a promise than a ride off into the sunset with flowery prose. It has a more natural and believable feel to it that impressed me. And, although this book has a lot of heavy drama, it had its laugh out loud moments that totally charmed me, like the fishing in the steam incident, the accidental exhibitionism and the hot coals dance. The scenes that got me all warm and fuzzy where the times spent under the stars and Steve’s hat – his hat was used to good effect on a couple of different levels and I found that rather clever.
Pure Heat is a heavy hitter and worth every minute spent reading. It’s a tightly written, well thought out plot with a fascinating dynamic between the hero and heroine. This is my first exposure of a book written by Mr. Buchman and I can see why he’s popular. He has a definite way with words and a unique delivery. I definitely recommend this book to readers who like realistic details with their romance. In this story, it provided a hard edged, believable feel of authenticity that made this book hard to put down. Try it and see.
Editor's note: This article was originally published at Long and Short Reviews. It has been republished with permission. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.