Author: Victoria Purman
Flame is the 5th book in a Tule Publishing series about the highly-trained, highly-skilled and courageous firefighters of mountainous Montana. I haven’t read any of the other volumes, I only grabbed this one because otherwise it would be the only one of Purman’s books I hadn’t reviewed.
This is a beautiful story of high school crushes carrying their feelings around for years in a case of extreme bad timing until finally finding the right time.
Being a novella this is quite a short read which means making sure all of the important backstory is included but leaving out the superfluous details. We get glimpses into the teenagers that went to high school together but only in the relevant settings. We don’t get to know the teens, except in their infrequent dealings with each other.
Dex McCoy was the popular kid at high school who lost his mother and then hightailed out of town as soon as he could; returning only for brief visits to see the family as he travelled the country gaining skills and experience. Eventually home calls to him after a family tragedy and he finally lays down roots in his childhood home town.
Cady Adams was a studious teen with big dreams to get out of her small home town of Glacier Creek so she scrimped and saved to get to culinary school in California. The loss of her mother and grandmother sees her struggling so the dream changes, instead of a cake shop in California she decides she wants to open it in her home town.
Years after school, years after their last interaction, and they are both back in their home town. It seems that everyone in town can see they are well matched and want to know why they have never dated, which is cute and small towny.
Flame is set in Montana, far from Purman’s hometown of Adelaide, so I can image there was quite a bit of research into both the Montana landscape and the smokejumpers. This is a career path I have never heard of.
Smokejumpers are highly trained and highly skilled firefighters who parachute into heavily forested mountain areas to fight raging bushfires. They are gone for days at a time, out of contact and often stuck in heavily forested areas with no vehicle access. A career that could definitely be classified high risk but which attracts loyal and dedicated firefighters.
Purman explores some of the risks of the job as well as the fears faced by the partners left behind. The stress and concern of going on with life while your loved one is on a mountain and out of contact. The more I’m thinking about it, the more it seems like a fear that would be understood by partners of firefighters and police officers everywhere.
It looks like Cady and Dex may have finally found their timing but Cady has already lost so much… she has no family but a close knit group of girlfriends and the small town community is very close; though would that be enough to keep her moving if she was to suffer another loss? Cady is not so sure.
Dex is no stranger to loss either and he has come home to help out with his aging father and his precious niece who suffered a tragic accident. It is the way he has been there for his family that shows the true depth of the man. He has always been a drifter, but he never had the pull to bring him home before.
Flame is a sweet little story that incorporates a lot of heartbreak and a lot of loss. Purman has captured the emotional rollercoaster for those left behind and written a captivating addition to the Firefighters of Montana series. We meet the characters who took the lead in the other volumes and there is definitely a part of me that wants to go read all of their stories, and see what else I can learn about Dex and Cady from the other authors involved in the series.
Flame is book #35 for the Australian Women Writer’s Challenge 2016.