Smoke and Fire – Julie Cannon

Smoke and FireBrady Stewart has survived a tough, violent ‘Trailer Trash’ childhood and vowed never to be poor again.  She opted to be a woman in an almost exclusively man’s world, a firefighter working to put out oil well fires. Nothing comes between her and her goal to be successful, independent and rich. Women are an enjoyable pastime, but none touch her soul.

Nicole McMillan is the big boss. Inherited the company from her “Red Adaire’ clone father, and now runs the multi-million dollar McMillan Suppression where safety always come first. But safety had overtaken Nicole’s life since she was caught in a flare and suffered 60% third degree burns. The rejection of her partner has caused even deeper scars than the fire.

Safety brings these opposites into contact as Brady is awarded for saving a mans life. But their developing relationship isn’t safe for either for them as it pushes both of their boundaries.


Another great book by Julie Cannon. Well written, well researched and well paced.

The story of two women from opposite backgrounds brought together initially by their common job might not be unusual, but making them world class firefighters in one of the most dangerous jobs out there certainly is. The detail and knowledge of the work done by these oil-well firefighters is great and added depth to the romance by making it seem grounded in a very real world drama.

Although Nicole is the boss she has worked her share of the fire, worked her way into the teams and had to face all the abuse of a woman in a wholly man’s world to earn her team’s respect. Unfortunately for her the fieldwork ended when she was engulfed in flames when a was well re-ignited by a spark. After months of incredible physical pain, which Ms Cannon really makes you feel, she has then been rejected physically by her partner as too ugly to touch.

Brady also has physical and mental scars, from fires and from abuse. It is the mirroring of the scars which makes this relationship interesting. Both are strong,. Independent, successful and completely shut off from emotions and therefore ultimately they are both lonely and afraid of letting anybody close. Brady because she cant trust anyone emotionally, wont allow herself to feel dependent. Nicole because she believes she is unbearably ugly and cannot face rejection by a lover.

As a sub-plot I found Julie Cannons exploration of how Nicole feels buying sex very interesting and something rarely explored or discussed in LesFic novels. She does it to ‘relive pressure’ and had convinced herself it is acceptable. But her response once she has met somebody who challenges her self-imposed isolation suggests that it has been less than fulfilling.

Julie Cannon biogBrady is an interesting character, wise beyond her years and extremely self aware and with the patience of a saint. She is, perhaps, too perfect in her tolerance and understanding of Nicole’s issues and fears. So I was glad to see her finally let rip and then quietly melt down.

Excellent characters who felt real. As always good dialogue and integrity. The exploration of a survivors PTSD is well done. A lovely romance based in a harsh world.

(Publishers review copy received)


Product info:

  • Paperback: 264 pages
  • First published 2014
  • Publisher: Bold Strokes Books (January 11, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00HTS4UV6
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