Monthly Key Word Reading Challenge: Full Blaze by ML Buchman
These wilderness firefighters battle more than flames
The elite experts of Mount Hood Aviation fly into places even the CIA can't penetrate.
She's just jumped square into the heart of the blaze
When Australian helicopter pilot Jeannie Clark rescues wildfire photographer Cal Jackson from a raging burnover, she doesn't know she's bringing aboard a firebrand. Cal is quickly recruited for the MHA's covert operations that reach far beyond the flames. Together Jeannie and Cal are assigned to an overseas operation with a lot more at risk than burning trees. And they'll need all the skill, love, and trust they can muster if they're going to survive the heat of this jungle battle.
Cal has been on his own since the age of sixteen, and the years before that consisted of a series of foster homes. He lives a simple lifestyle with few possessions following wildfires and working as first a firefighter and later as a fire photographer. All that he owns can fit into a couple of backpacks and he hasn't had a permanent address...ever. When his life is almost snuffed out by the very fire he makes his living by, he is amazed that his savior is a beautiful Aussie pilot who really gets under his skin.
Jeannie lost her house in a huge fire in Australia and her father has never recovered. She loves flying her helicopter in the battle against similar fires in the states and is thrilled to be a member of MHA. She is determined to learn all she can and often underestimates her own skills. When she saves a photographer, she doesn't realize that the man entering her space will change her vision of herself and her future.
Cal and Jeannie are great together...Cal isn't so sure about commitment and there were many times when he knew he had to walk away before he got in over his head, but he never actually does. Jeannie is sure that she needs to steer clear of this hotshot who is just like countless other males she's known her entire life until she realizes he isn't anything like them and that he is just what she needs. Cal is a self-made man who truly sees Jeannie as she is: an incredibly skilled pilot whose commitment to her job is second-to-none. Jeannie sees that Cal is scarred physically and emotionally by his past and that he doesn't see himself as the incredibly intelligent, observant man that she knows him to be. It is only through comments to each other that they start to see these things about themselves. Both of them are amazed and, at first, convinced the other is nuts in their beliefs but slowly Cal and Jeannie begin to expand their self awareness and in doing so become more ready to be in a committed relationship.
Once again the strength of Buchman's writing lies in making me feel as if I am right there next to the characters whether in the helicopter, on the Australian outback, or in an island hiding from rebel soldiers. This is the second Firehawks novel and I think I liked it even more than the first. From the relationship between Jeannie and Cal that would get close to becoming predictable before spinning in a direction I absolutely didn't expect to the crazy action that just did not let up, Buchman created two characters that I wish were real people. Even if I never met them, it would be nice to know that such smart, decent people are a part of the world.