Review: Fan the Flames by Katie Ruggle

Fan the Flames by Katie Ruggle
Romantic Suspense published by Sourcebooks Casablanca on June 7, 2016

Fan the Flames by Katie Ruggle book coverHe’s a firefighter. He’s a Motorcycle Club member.
And if a killer has his way…he’ll take the fall for a murder he didn’t commit.

Ian Walsh is used to riding the line between the good guys and the bad. He may owe the club his life, but his heart rests with his fire station brothers…and with the girl he’s loved since they were kids. Ian would do anything for Rory. He’d die for her. Kill for her. Defend her to his last breath?and he may just have to.

Every con in the Rockies knows Rory is the go-to girl for less-than-legal firearms. When she defends herself against a brutal attack, Rory finds herself catapulted into the center of a gang war, with only Ian standing between her and a threat greater than either of them could have imagined.

In the remote Rocky Mountains, lives depend on the Search & Rescue brotherhood. But in a place this far off the map, trust is hard to come by and secrets can be murder..

I normally don’t read suspense romance, because I don’t like that kind of conflict/tension in my romance reading, and a lot of romances have the danger boner make an appearance, which is just too much. But I went in search of a suspense romance that didn’t have a cop or other form of law enforcement as the protagonist, and here I am with a review. This is the second book in a series, which you can read without having read the previous book, but it does end on a cliffhanger because there is an overarching mystery that connects all the books, so keep that in mind. There is violence and trauma in this book. I liked both Ian and Rory (who is a woman), but I found Rory’s character a bit more nuanced than Ian’s. Rory is tough because she’s had to be, but also vulnerable, and Ian is great because he mostly understands Rory but isn’t necessarily trying to change her. The mystery is what brings them together, but their relationship exists outside of solving the mystery, even before it really pushes them together.

Rory has always lived outside of the small town where this series is set. She sells guns legitimately and illegally. However, we get to see that she is responsible about her guns. She doesn’t sell a gun to Ian’s stepfather when he tries to buy one off of her, because he’s been drinking heavily and is grieving. When she introduces a new gun buyer to a gun, she explains that it is important to treat a gun as though it were always loaded, even when it isn’t for safety reasons. I appreciated seeing that on the page. She has an uneasy relationship with the motorcycle club that Ian belongs to, because she knows they’re doing illegal things, and a lot of the members are scary. I liked that Ruggle didn’t try to romanticize the motorcycle club in this case, but also didn’t try and make everyone villainous. Rory had a really unusual childhood, which affects how she interacts with the world a lot. It’s explained later on in the book, and its influence on Rory is fairly consistent, which I appreciated. Her relationship with Ian acts as a catalyst for other changes in her life, like volunteering with the firefighters, or making new friends. Because of how intense the events of the book are, it makes sense that their relationship–the intimacy–moves more quickly than one might expect. The toughness I mentioned comes from Rory’s childhood, and because she has operated a gun store by herself in the mountains for three years–that requires a certain surety in one’s abilities. But Rory also likes pink and appreciates a mini gun, and loves her dog, who has been with her since her teens. Her relationship with Ian goes from friends to lovers fairly quickly, but it makes sense.

Ian is a member of a motorcycle club and a firefighter. However, I like to think of him as a firefighter who enjoys his motorcycle, because we don’t see him doing a lot of motorcycle club type things on the page. He alludes to having done bad things for the motorcycle club in the past, but doesn’t go into specifics, and it isn’t exactly clear to me how much of an impact the club had on him. He seems much closer to his fellow firefighters, who constantly tease him and show up whenever he and/or Rory need help. I liked that we saw him doing his job several times, and how he is a slightly different person while on a call. He’s had some family drama in the recent past, but he doesn’t really talk about it, and I wish he had. Most of his family interactions are with his stepfather, who isn’t well. While he is very protective of Rory, he also recognizes that she is able to take care of herself, and is willing to figure out compromises. He also makes sure that Rory knows she is in charge of how quickly their physical relationship moves, which I liked seeing.
When Rory and Ian did have a big argument, we got to see them talk it out–they literally ended up in a room together to talk things through. It was lovely and a little funny.

I really enjoyed reading this book, watching Rory stretch out into the world and seeing her relationship with Ian grow from friends who have secretly crushed on each other for years to lovers facing down bad guys. I liked watching their interactions with their friends. I did not appreciate the cliffhanger, but the whole series is out now so that wasn’t as bad as it could have been.

Grade: B+

You can buy a copy here.

*Editor’s Note: If you visit ALBTALBS you know I rarely to never do this – but I’d like to note this was supposed to have been a TBR Challenge Review and it was submitted by Aidee in December of 2020. This near incomprehensible delay is all on me, Limecello, and I wanted to apologize to Aidee, and explain if there might be any issues, this may be why.

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