It was supposed to be a one-night stand, one time for Winter to cut loose and give into temptation before returning to her carefully structured, work-centered life. And for a while, it was. She never forgot that stranger on the beach, but she certainly never expected to find him at the center of her next investigation.
But... The best mysteries are the ones that keep me guessing right up until the big reveal and then shock me with the answer. In hindsight, there were clues, but they were so well camouflaged that I, like the character in the book, overlooked them. Winter’s Fire is not one of those stories. Initially, it was one big puzzle, and I was completely hooked. But before I could even work out my own theory, the author placed a big neon sign over the bad guy. She may not have literally spelled it out, but the made his suspicious behavior conspicuous to readers, and it took the fun out of that part of the story.
The Verdict: Winter is a workaholic with no family or friends to speak of except her boss Teddy. While her parents are still around, they’re not really present in her life, and they haven’t been since she was a kid and witnessed the horrific death of her sister. Her entire world revolves around her job, but Teddy insists she cut loose and have a little fun, which leads her to one night of passion with a stranger on the beach. Not one to change, though, Winter leaves that night in the past and goes back to her humdrum life — until her next assignment lands her face to face with the man she never forgot.
Firefighter Adam has long searched for the woman he met that night. But with nothing more than a memory, he’s finding no clues to her identity. When he suddenly finds her standing there in his firehouse, he’s thrilled. Except she’s like a completely different person, insisting on keeping things professional and all but denying their night together even happened. She’s cold and detached, and she won’t even entertain the thought of rekindling the fire they found together that one night. But then her simple insurance investigation takes a dangerous turn, and she turns to the one person in Covendale that she knows well enough to trust.
It always irritates me when a character denies attraction for virtually no reason at all, and that’s what Winter did at the beginning. But that quickly changed the moment she knew she was in danger, and it was a much more vulnerable and open Winter that showed up at Adam’s house that night. The mystery ended up not being much of a mystery at all, but the romance was all there. Adam was more than willing to take up the role of protector, and once Winter let her guard down, they were explosive together.
Winter’s Fire, like the others in this series, is a very quick read, but it’s lots of fun. Adam is impossible not to like, even when he’s at his worst and grieving the loss of a friend, and Winter didn’t drag out that bit about letting him get too close. The scene in which she’s accosted in her room was downright terrifying, and her reaction to everything when she ran to Adam seemed so real. I thought I was out of luck when I ran out of books in this series, so this latest book is a wonderful surprise.