With its welcome return of characters first introduced in The Man For Maggie, Love Under Fire brings us Jo Jellic and Rowan McQuaid in a story of slaughtered calves, explosions, arson, bloody newspapers, pentagrams and clandestine meetings on Halloween! Set in New Zealandís breathtaking natural beauty, this isnít a guidebook entry!
Instead, a very evocative storyteller led me into a fascinating romance novel, providing me with an intriguing storyline and an opportunity to visualize its setting, Nicks Landing, in all its small town prejudice and chauvinism. The scenery might be beautiful, but there is no love for the Small Town. Detective Jo Jellic, sent to Nicks Landing to work at the local police station, craves a return to her old life in Auckland. But first a case of arson and fraud needs to be solved and her fatherís ex-partnerís guilt to be established; itís her chance to prove to her superiors that sheíd always known Rocky Skelton to be a liar. Itís the break she needs to prove and restore her late fatherís innocence and reputation.
Help comes from an unlikely and unwanted source. Rowan, the reason for her exile to Small Town narrow-mindedness, joins the investigation. Itís a job that gets him close and personal with Jo, the one woman Rowan was and is willing to risk his life for. It was exhilarating to see their sizzling attraction taken to a breathtaking high to then have it escalate in a love scene that is beautiful! Not only is it hot, but also tender and revealing. And with Ms. Housdenís talent for sensual imagery, the scene turns into an experience worth repeating.
Love Under Fire is a bit of slow starter, only picking up the pace in the second half. The suspense was there, but not nearly as interesting as the romance. And Iím just glad that Jo proved to be a reasonable woman, not holding a grudge too long when Rowan turned out to be more than heíd led on. With characters that Iím happy to read about again and a writing style that Iím getting more comfortable with, Iím glad to have read this one.
So, no matter if you agree with Ms. Housdenís heroine or not, this small town with its intrigues and residents is worth a visit!