Peyton Michaels, a reporter wants to know what makes a person a hero, and wildland firefighter Gabe Cooper, is the very definition. Peyton doesn't realize she will be swept up in a mystery that will threaten her life, and in a relationship that will threaten her heart.
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Peyton Michaels expected her assignment to be simple—write an article about everyday heroes. Heroes like Hot Shot firefighter Gabe Cooper. She never expected to find herself running up a mountain, a wildfire nipping at her heels, her life in his hands.
And she never expected to be drawn to Gabe. After the loss of her husband in the line of duty, the last thing she wants is to fall in love with yet another man who routinely puts his life at risk.
Gabe has had enough of women who want to make him into someone he’s not. Women like his ex, who couldn’t handle the heat of his job. Like Peyton, who sees him as a hero when he’s just a man doing a job. Except time after time, the pesky reporter proves her mettle. And gets deeper under his skin.
But there’s an arsonist at work, and danger is closing in with the speed of a raging brush fire. Peyton and Gabe have to dig deep for what it takes to be a real hero—to find the courage to reach out and grab a forever kind of love. Before it’s too late.
Gabe moved with such confidence Peyton couldn’t take her eyes from him as he led with his shoulder through the crowd.
Firefighters and locals alike stopped him at every table, congratulated him, offered him beer, quizzed him about his narrow escape. She liked the way he brushed off the adulation, as if his skill and know-how had no bearing on the outcome of the day. Since when could Gabe Cooper be humble? She never saw evidence of it when he dealt with her.
“Hey.” He reached the bar and edged closer to her than necessary. “Hanging in?”
The scent of smoke clung to him, probably was a part of his DNA after so many years on the fire line. She’d attributed the odor to the place, and now would always recognize the scent as Gabe. He was so close she couldn’t take a breath without smelling him. It didn’t stop her from breathing.
She tried to shift away for her own sanity, but the bar was too crowded to go far. “No. I left my will to stay upright on the mountain.”
His low, sexy laugh curled around every nerve in her body, coaxing them to the surface of her skin, where they shimmered with anticipation.
“Good thing we don’t have far to go.” He dangled a motel key from his fingers. So he’d gotten the last room. And he wanted to share. “The room’s right upstairs. Thought you might enjoy a long hot shower.”
For God’s sake, a thirty-two-year-old widow should be able to control her blush. Was she embarrassed because the bartender overheard, or because a gorgeous man handed her a line?
That was all it was, right? A fresh line? God, she couldn’t think with his thigh pressed against hers.
“One room?” she asked, and hated the shakiness of her voice.
“That’s all they got. Take it or leave it.”
“Do you come with it?”
He smiled into her eyes, amusement and arousal a breathtaking blend. “Is there a problem?”
Before she could answer, the bartender set an unordered bottle of beer in front of Gabe and he glanced up questioningly. The bartender pointed to a table of local men who waved when Gabe looked their way. He saluted them with his bottle and took a long drink. Peyton was so close to him she could feel him swallow.
The twang of music had changed to something softer, slower, sexier. On the dance floor, couples shifted closer together. Her body hummed at the thought of being up against all that maleness. It had been so long.
Time to step into the fire.
The Romance Studio
Peyton Michaels is the widow of a SWAT team commander killed in the line of duty and a reporter. She is doing a series of stories about high risk jobs and the people who do them and it isn’t just to earn money. Peyton wants to understand what made her husband walk into danger day after day until it killed him. Gabe Cooper and his Bear Claws Hot Shot firefighter crew working daily and risking their lives fighting wildfires is her current story. Peyton has taken wildfire firefighter training so she can go out on a real mission and has asks to be assigned the best. The best is Gabe but Gabe hates reporters and doesn’t take rookies. Peyton will have to work hard to prove she is capable and not a danger to herself, Gabe, or his crew. But what will happen when it really gets hot up there?
Hot Shot is a brilliant romantic suspense with a realistic look at the men and women who risk their lives fighting wildfires every year. I was enthralled from the first page and hated to be interrupted for anything while reading this story! I loved the characters of Peyton and Gabe who are extremely stubborn, intelligent, hard working, honorable, and hurt from previous relationships. Of course, they are instantly attracted to one another and fight against the attraction. I also really enjoyed reading about what it can be like battling a wildfire. The horrors of what being in the middle of a fire is really like, the risk, the challenge, and the adrenaline rush when they make it back. And the story also has a mystery that Peyton and Gabe will have to figure out before they are killed from the mischief of a fire starter; this fire isn’t an accident. There are so many aspects of what I love in a good story in this one book. This is one of the best books I’ve read this year and I can’t wait to see what else Ms. Fredrick has written! I highly recommend this story to anyone who loves romantic suspense, adventure, heroes, and strong determined characters.
Romance Reviews Today
Montana Mountains – the Present
Peyton Michaels is a reporter working on a story about wildland firefighters in Montana. She has taken courses designed to train her in fire fighting, but nothing prepares her for the adventure and danger she finds after becoming a member of sexy lead firefighter Gabe Cooper’s crew, the Bear Claws.
Gabe Cooper does not allow rookies on his crew, nor does he talk to reporters. He is given no choice with Peyton, but his feelings of discomfort are discarded after he catches an interesting glimpse into the psyche of this complex woman. Thinking she puts the team in danger, Gabe quickly reevaluates Peyton after watching her hold her own on a rescue mission. He begins to think of her as more than an annoyance and sees her with newly hungry eyes.
But when Gabe’s former friend, Doug, is arrested on arson charges, the two begin a search for the true arsonist. What they find will burn some while creating a fresh start for others.
Ms. Fredrick has done an excellent job writing a suspenseful tale centered around a wildfire in Montana. The fire becomes a secondary character worthy of mention. It is given human characteristics reminiscent of a murderer and a stalker. It is intelligent in a way that only the unknown can be. The fire is key to the story. Without it you have no setting, action, or way for Peyton and Gabe to be thrown together.
The fire is not the only thing that burns in HOT SHOT. The romance between Gabe and Peyton progresses at an even pace; their relationship starts with resentment, moves on to grudging respect, and finally blossoms into love. It is a relationship to root for and one worthy of the two great characters Ms. Fredrick introduces to us.
HOT SHOT is an engaging and emotional story that will have you wanting more from M. J. Fredrick.
The Long and the Short of It
After her husband's death during a SWAT operation gone wrong, a single idea has become the driving goal in journalist Peyton Michaels' life: to discover what makes a hero and what sets such men apart from ordinary citizens. So far, none of the award-winning interviews that garnered her fame have provided even a hint of an answer.
Now she's after the secrets of wildfire firefighter and Hot Shot team leader Gabe Cooper.
But Cooper doesn't trust journalists to see the truth of what he does. He doesn't talk to them, and he doesn't take rookies on the fire lines. And Peyton's plan involves breaking both rules: taking a rookie firefighter who's also a reporter along on a dangerous mission.
Something makes Gabe pick up the gauntlet.
This fire, however, isn't like any other. It will test everyone involved in the battle, and reveal dark secrets no one wants to know, and truths too unpleasant to face. If Peyton and Gabe survive the inferno, they might find answers to questions they hadn't asked, and a peace they hadn't expected.
MJ.. Frederick knows how to build up suspense with the skill of a seasoned storyteller, even though Hot Shot is only her second published book. The reader cheers for the main characters from the first lines, and the tension between them doesn't abate until the end. Nor is it forced: the author creates a solid background for the characters with enough baggage to keep them apart emotionally throughout the story.
The wildfire at the center of the plot is itself a powerful character. If I didn't know better, I would've sworn that MJ was a firefighter who's experienced forest fires in the mountains. Her research is solid and believable, and doesn't stop at the edge of the burned land. She manages to demonstrate in quick, sharp portraits of minor characters how the fire season affects all the area's inhabitants.
Nor are her antagonists flat and uninteresting. They're worthy opponents for Peyton and Gabe, and... I'll let you discover them for yourselves. Hot Shot reads like a romantic suspense, but is built like a mystery, with clues laid out from the beginning, and bright-red herrings scattered along the way.
This is definitely a must-read. And a re-read. It was a pleasure to discover and it goes straight to my keeper shelf.
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