by Denise A Agnew, contemporary (2009)
Liquid Silver Books, $6.10, ISBN 978-1-59578-550-3
Denise A Agnew is an author who is still new to me despite the fact that she had been writing for some time now, but those books of hers that I have read are pretty good. They are well-paced, featuring likable and capable characters and showing a nice balance of romance and suspense. Combustion shows many of these traits, but it falters considerably in one aspect: pacing.
First, the story. Our smoke jumper heroine Autumn MacAllister returns to her hometown of Clifton, Montana to get some R&R after a brush with death in her last assignment. It isn't long before she is reunited with Jack Dillon, a man from her past. The former chubby kid has since grown up and become a hunky firefighter that starts fires, figurative speaking, as much as he puts out fires for a living. As they reconnect, Autumn's presence also causes old wounds and even enmities to be rekindled. I'm sure you know how small town folks can be - they have long memories and everyone has a secret or two.
Autumn and Jack have some issues (of course), but they are generally likable people who don't wallow too much in self pity. They show good chemistry and it is easy to believe that they are good friends as well as lovers. The suspense plot is nothing unusual, but it's a decent one and provides some decent external conflicts to move the story along.
It is the pacing that I have some issues with. There are flashback scenes here, scenes that I feel don't really serve to advance the story and only serve to slow things down. This is a pretty long story, but for a long time, especially during the middle parts of the story, I can't help feeling that there are too many scenes that seem to be nothing more than filler. Secondary characters show up only to exit the stage shortly after, the main characters seem to take their time to do anything, and the story starts to meander. The story loses much of its initial momentum due to these scenes.
Combustion is a decent read with many good things about it for me to appreciate, but it is also one that is too easily put down.
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