The elite firefighters of Mount Hood Aviation fly into places even the CIA can’t penetrate.
FROM WILDFIRE TO GUNFIRE
When former Army National Guard helicopter pilot Robin Harrow joins Mount Hood Aviation, she expect to fight fires for only one season. Instead, she finds herself getting deeply entrenched with one of the most elite firefighting teams in the world. And that’s before they send her on a mission that’s seriously top secret, with a flight partner who’s seriously hot.
Mickey Hamilton loves flying, firefighting, and women, in that order. But when Robin Harrow roars across his radar, his priorities go out the window. On a critical mission deep in enemy territory, their past burns away and they must face each other. Their one shot at a future demands that they first survive the present-together.
“A richly detailed and pulse-pounding read…tender romance flawlessly blended with heart-stopping life-or-death scenes.” -RT Book Reviews, 4 ½ stars for Full Blaze
Becky Billings loves the small Oregon Coast town of Eagle Cove. Lifelong friendships and simple joys abound here, as does her deepest passion—her craft-beer brewery. Then her best friend’s wedding reminds her of just what she doesn’t have in Eagle Cove.
Harry Slater couldn’t brush off the sand of tiny Eagle Cove quick enough. He’s slamming the partner fast-track for a top law firm in the Big Easy and nothing could make him come back here, except briefly for his little brother’s wedding.
Neither of them can guess how their lives will be changed when they come up with a new Recipe for Eagle Cove.
An air of delighted mischief pervaded the room as Becky and Natalya changed out of their bridesmaids dresses. Jessica Baxter had always sworn she would never marry. Instead she was the first of the three friends to go down…and they were going to make her pay for being so fortunate.
Becky peered out the second-story window; it was easy to pick Jessica out of the crowd which spread across the B&B’s broad lawn. The stately Victorian stood well back from the high bluff above the rolling Pacific. The bride was long, blond, sleek, and gorgeous in a simple white lace gown. The Sunday afternoon sun of the warm September day—because of course it wouldn’t dare rain on Jessica’s wedding—sparkled off her as if she was half elf and half fairy. Both of which Becky had always suspected to be true.
And Becky couldn’t begrudge one of her best friends getting Greg Slater because the two were so perfect together. But she could be envious. And the only proper way to deal with envy was merry revenge.
She couldn’t suppress her giggle as they were changing. Natalya flashed a grin back at her; Jessica’s first cousin was like the anti-Jessica. The two of them were both tall and slim, but Natalya was dusky-skinned, brunette, and had all of the curves that Jessica had whined about not having since forever. It had been Natalya’s idea for them to change into little black dresses for the wedding reception, as if they were mourning Jessica’s demise. Pure pixie, always a tricky lot, Natya was the strategist of their childhood trio.
Becky had fashioned matching corsages for them out of black tissue paper. Those dozen years of schooling had finally paid off, even if it was just in crafts projects from the first grade. She preferred the down and dirty school of hard knocks that had spanned the last fourteen years since graduating from Puffin High.
She turned back to the room and saw that she had another problem. Natalya in a little black dress was going to gobsmack every man around and Becky didn’t think that was much more fair than Jessica looking so ridiculously happy.
Becky checked herself in the mirror, not that it did her much good. Natalya lived three hours away in Portland, so she was staying in the Writer’s Room of her mother’s Victorian B&B. It was an airy, lofty-ceilinged room typical of the old architecture. This room was filled with books, images of writers, and the décor was pure Jane Austen-era Georgian. That meant that the mirror had a massively ornate, gold-painted frame. Yet despite its imposing presence, it was actually small, round, and set far too high for Becky’s five-four. That her two best friends since kindergarten were both five-ten was just another injustice. What she’d lacked in stature she’d made up for in curves, “lush Italianate curves” her similarly-shaped mother had always said—which made perfect sense with their pioneer-stock, Gold-Rush era, boringly Anglo-Saxon heritage. Not!
She was… Becky had never been able to pin down what she was. Imp? Garden gnome? The right metaphor always eluded her. She sighed, standing on tiptoe didn’t help either.
Unable to see her reflection much below the generous cleavage that even the most conservative little black dress gave a woman of her shape—and this dress was not meant to be conservative—she turned for help.
“Your mom’s stupid mirrors. Help me, Natya!” It was an old problem that didn’t need explaining.
Natalya whirled a finger and Becky did a turn on the ornate Persian rug that looked as if it had been snatched out of the Hogwarts Gryffindor Common Room, making the bedroom warm and cozy. J. K. Rowling watched Becky from her portrait over Natalya’s shoulder. Emily Dickinson considered one profile and Jane Austen the other. Maya Angelou may have been inspecting her shoes. She’d pulled on her bright red cowboy boots with the pretty black stitching. The low heel was good because of dancing on the lawn. Besides, Becky held a firm conviction that high heels on a short woman were just a lame form of sucking up. And whatever James Tiptree, Jr. was thinking about Becky’s shoulder-length auburn hair, she was keeping to herself, just as she’d kept her gender hidden through two decades of writing science fiction. Georgette Heyer merely hung on the wall and looked magnificently 1920s as she always did.
Natalya shot out a thumbs up. “Men are going to whimper!”
“Yes!” Becky offered a fist pump and did a little circular stomp dance on the rug. “That is if they notice me with you around.”
“Since when have you ever had to worry about that?”
“Since Jessica looks so damn happy dancing with Greg.” Together they turned to look back out the window. Becky half wanted to collect the writers’ pictures from the walls so that all the women in the room could look out together.
“It is a little like she’s bragging, isn’t it?”
Becky could only nod. Jessica was draped shamelessly against her new husband, slow dancing to an up-tempo Backstreet Boys song. Three months ago Jessica returned to Eagle Cove after a decade working as a Chicago journalist. She was supposed to be here just a week and then return to her whirlwind urban career. Instead, she’d stayed as the town’s new marketing manager and was kicking ass at it. Tourism was at its highest level in years. That was good news for the Lamont’s B&B, the real estate business of Jessica’s mom, and it certainly hadn’t hurt Becky’s brewery.
“Time to go break up all of this unmitigated happiness.” Natya declared firmly. It was. And Jessica was right, Natalya was always the sneaky one of the group.
“First dibs on cutting in on the bride for a dance with the groom,” Becky declared just as Natalya was opening her mouth to do the same.
“Damn!” Natalya’s curse warmed her heart.
To secure her victory, Becky raced for the door, offered an air high-five to Nora Roberts’ picture above an entire bookcase filled with her writings, and beat Natalya to the stairs. But she was blockaded from escape at the bottom of the stairs…the kitchen was packed. She was in the midst of the mayhem, when across the impenetrable mob, she saw Natalya slink down the old servants’ back stairs and out onto the porch. Her wicked grin showed exactly where she was headed—to claim the second dance from the groom.
“Damn!” All she could do was echo Natalya’s heartfelt curse of a moment before. Becky stomped her foot in frustration; growing up in this house gave Natalya an unfair advantage.
# # #
Harry yelped more in surprise than pain as someone tromped on the toes of his Oxfords. The kitchen was so noisy with a dozen simultaneous conversations that no one particularly noticed his cry. It took him a moment to spot his attacker, but when he looked down he discovered an astonishing sight.
The first thing he noticed was the impressive swell of exposed breasts. It wasn’t that they were all that uncovered, they were just very…impressive. Ah yes, his lawyerly finesse with words. Sad. But it was hard to be completely coherent when faced with such an exceptional view. Then he forced himself to focus on the owner’s face.
“Becky!” He ignored her smirk that said she knew exactly where his attention had first landed and gave her quick hug that she returned after a moment. “It’s like old home week.” Everyone had turned out for his little brother’s wedding. The fact that Greggie was marrying, had married, the first woman Harry had ever kissed didn’t bother him…too much. He and Jess had been almost done before they started during freshman year. Wasn’t it just backward justice that Greg was the one who’d always had the big crush on her without ever admitting to it.
“Old home week only to you foreign types.” Becky Billings smirk had shifted to tease, something he recalled her excelling at. Her light brown eyes practically twinkled with delight. He also recalled that among other things, she’d absolutely ruled every class debate in high school. He might have ruled the soccer field, but her quick mind and quicker tongue had ruled the verbal playing field.
“Foreign as in a hundred yards down the road,” he gave it his best shot. His family’s homestead was the other grand Victorian of the town. The two old houses stood at the head of the beach and commanded the best views in Eagle Cove.
“Foreign as in you live in New Orleans and are just here slumming.”
“Care to do a little slumming with me?”
“You call that a pickup line?” Becky snorted out a laugh and slapped him hard enough on the arm to send him ricocheting off Cal Mason Jr. who bumped into Cal Mason Sr. in earnest conversation with Jessica’s father. Cal Sr. shoved Jr. back into him and the two of them ended up tangled together against the stove, both struggling not to spill their beers all over each other.
“Sorry, Cal, Becky just—” he pointed, but the spot where she’d been was empty. Cal gave him a look as if checking his mental capacity: low, after the view of Becky’s chest had drained the blood out of his brain.
He looked around and caught occasional glimpses of the top of her head as she moved through the tight-packed kitchen crowd, her liquid-oak hair floating lightly behind her. The crowd parted just enough to offer him a full view as she stepped out the far door and onto the sunlit porch.
She might be short, barely up to his chin, but her industrial-grade curves and trim waist looked damn good on her. And that dress. Holy wow! Spaghetti shoulder straps, clinging material, and a flirty flare high enough on her thighs to reveal that there was no excess load on that frame. She was no runner, couldn’t be with that body, but they were damned amazing legs. Then with a exuberant “Yip!” of excited greeting, loud enough that he could hear it over the music and the overlapping chatter, she raced out into the sunlight and was gone.
Harry rubbed his shoulder where she’d hit him. He’d forgotten how strong she was. He’d have to remember that the next time he caught up with her. And the way she looked, he definitely had some catching up to do. But he didn’t want to appear overeager either. So, he leaned back against the stove with Cal. They’d been the forward strikers on the soccer team back at Puffin High, finishing the season ten-and-two, a new pinnacle for the Pufflings. Cal Sr. and his own father, Judge Slater, had chosen the ridiculous baby seabird as the school mascot most of half a century before. He’d never found out quite why, so he and Cal Jr. worked on their beers and rehashed it some for old times’ sake.
But what he really wanted to talk about was Becky Billings and the way that woman looked in a clinging black dress with chili pepper red cowboy boots.