Title: Fire on the Mountain
Author: P.D. Singer
Cover Artist: Reese Dante
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Buy Link: Fire on the Mountain (The Mountains)
Genre: M/M contemporary romance
Length: 212 pages
Rating: 5 stars out of 5
A guest review by Jenre
Summary review: A re-release of a book which is firmly on my keeper shelf, this lovely romance is bound to delight many new readers.
Take a break from academics, enjoy the Colorado Rockies, fight a fire now and then. That’s all Jake Landon expected when he signed up to be a ranger. He’ll partner with some crusty old mountain man; they’ll patrol the wilderness in a tanker, speak three words a day, and Old Crusty won’t be alluring at all. A national forest is big enough to be Jake’s closet—he’ll spend his free time fishing.
Except Old Crusty turns out to be Kurt Carlson: confident, competent, and experienced. He’s also young, hot, friendly, and considers clothing optional when it’s just two guys in the wilderness. Sharing a small cabin with this walking temptation is stressing Jake’s sanity—is he sending signals, or just being Kurt? And how would Kurt react if he found out his new partner wants to start a fire of a different kind? Jake’s terrified—they have to live together for five months no matter what.
Enough sparks fly between the rangers to set the trees alight, but it takes a raging inferno to make Jake and Kurt admit to the heat between them.
This book is a re-release and I reviewed the original book when it was first released three years ago. Most of this review is taken from that original review, except there are changes to this book. The first change is in my grade which I’ve raised from 4.5 to 5 stars. This is because this book, and the subsequent others in the Mountain series, has become a real favourite of mine. It’s a keeper and although it still has flaws, I have a real soft spot for it and so it deserves a regrading to five stars in my opinion. The second change is that, although not much has been changed, this book has had a re-edit from the author and has been extended by about 20,000 words. This is reflected in tighter prose and greater depth to the character of Kurt, who I felt was a little idealised and not as well rounded as Jake in the previous version. There’s a new opening to the book which establishes the characters and sets the scene more effectively than the original story. Overall, I approve of the editorial changes which have enhanced the story and allowed for better characterisation.
One final change is the addition of a bonus short story which fills us in with an incident involving Kurt before he became a ranger. I definitely approved of this!
Jake is spending his summer season as a forest ranger before heading off to Pharmacy college. His job is to drive through the forest park looking out for the beginnings of forest fires and putting them out before they can catch and do too much damage as well as keep an eye on the various tourists, walkers and occasional scout groups who wander around the park. He is partnered by Kurt who has spent a few years doing this job. Jake and Kurt are basically living in each other’s pockets in a tiny cabin in the middle of nowhere so it’s a good job that they gel and work together. Jake is gay and he finds Kurt, who he believes to be straight, very attractive. He’s managed to keep a lid on his feelings for a few weeks now until something happens to put a spark to his lust for Kurt. The following few weeks are difficult for Jake as he struggles with his raging lust and growing respect and admiration for Kurt, until one day both men are thrown into a life threatening situation and Jake can no longer keep his feelings to himself.
Fire on the Mountain is what you might call a ‘slow burner’ – no pun intended. For most of the book we are treated to descriptions of the daily lives and job of a forest ranger. I didn’t know anything about this job before I read this book, so I found this part completely fascinating. I had no idea about how much effort goes into seeking out potential fire hazards and dealing with them. I also loved the descriptions of the forest park and the simple life that these two men lead, cut off from civilisation. Their peaceful existence is interspersed with some hair raising incidents – not all to do with fighting fires – which adds to the pacing and makes it a real page turner. The quieter moments are spend building the friendship between Jake and Kurt, and in Jake trying to hide his feelings. These were often my favourite parts to the story.
The story is from Jake’s first person point of view. I liked Jake very much. He has almost a wide eyed innocence about him and the way he views the world which I found utterly charming. Jake is also somewhat of a naval gazer, being introspective, and he perhaps worries over his problems a little too much, especially later in the book. He has tried so hard not to fall for Kurt because he knows that it will cause a rift in their burgeoning friendship. Once he realises that it is too late and he has a huge case of unrequited lust, he tries to deal with it the only way a man can and takes himself in hand (literally). The number of masturbation scenes in the story is mildly amusing because there’s only so much that can be said about a man masturbating, but I can see why a man in his early twenties may need to let off steam in that way. Although Jake’s naivety was endearing most of the time, when it came to his assumptions about Kurt’s sexuality I was astounded that he didn’t figure it out before he did. Even Kurt is exasperated at what he saw as his obvious attempts to get Jake’s attention:
“I spent most of two weeks trying to get your attention, and you have to ask that? I did everything but drop one wing and run in circles,”
Jake has an obvious case of hero-worship when it comes to Kurt so he comes across as a little too wonderful. Having said that he acts kindly to others, gets on well with people and is an all round ‘nice guy’ so it was very difficult to dislike him at all and, as I said earlier, the new or newly expanded scenes help to give us more about Kurt so that he seems fleshed out and realistic.
Fire on the Mountain really is a special read for me and one that I would highly recommend. The book is tightly plotted with a number of tense, exhilarating action scenes; the relationship between the heroes as friends and then lovers is beautifully done and contains a lovely gentleness which I found delightful; finally the descriptions of the forest park in all its terrible beauty just added to the overall positive feelings I have for this book. I recommend that you read Fire on the Mountain – you won’t regret it.