Fan the Flames by Katie Ruggle
Series: Search and Rescue #2
Also in this series: Gone Too Deep, In Safe Hands
Published by Sourcebooks, Sourcebooks Casablanca
Publication Date: June 7th 2016
Genres: Fiction, Romance, Suspense, Mystery & Detective, Women Sleuths, Amateur Sleuth, Contemporary, Action & Adventure, Thrillers, Small Town & Rural
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He'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...
Search & Rescue Series: On His Watch (novella) Hold Your Breath (Book 1)Fan the Flames (Book 2)Gone too Deep (Book 3)In Safe Hands (Book 4)
Let me just state right off the bat while I totally get why some people love them, I generally don’t like motorcycle club books. I frequently have issues with the criminal element, especially when the hero or heroine is directly involved, and it just knocks me out of the story. But I really, really loved Hold Your Breath, the first book in Katie Ruggle’s Search and Rescue series, so I decided to take a chance on the second book, which features a hero in motorcycle club and a heroine who owns a gun shop. While I had some issues with this book, I enjoyed it more than I expected.
We met the hero, Ian, in book 1. He’s a firefighter in this town in the Rocky Mountains, and he’s also a member of a local motorcycle club. Rory is his friend and owner of the local gun shop. When she defends herself from an attack by some members of Ian’s club, it puts her on the wrong side of the club sets off an even greater conflict for Ian. Ian has to protect Rory and himself. Moreover, the murder investigation from book 1 is still continuing here, and Ian gets unhappily tangled in that case as well.
Let’s start by talking about the MC! Ian has been involved in the club since he was a kid, and they basically took the place of his absent biological family. He is also a firefighter, though, which means he’s part of the close-knit team that includes police, fire, and search and rescue. Obviously, his work colleagues are on a different side of the law from his club. This causes lots of conflict for Ian, and it makes people on both sides angry at him. I thought his continued loyalty to the club made sense, though, because even though he does not like their criminal activities he feels like he owes them something.
I grew up in the club. They’re family. I can’t abandon my family, even if some of them make pisspoor decisions.
I think what saved the MC plot line for me was that Ian eventually does have to take a stand for what is right, because the club crosses a line. I appreciated that Ian and everyone else could see that line, too.
The other characters in this series are fantastic as well. We get to see more of Lou and Callum, the couple from book 1. We also see more of the other colorful personalities in town. I particularly loved the firefighters. With one exception, they are a strong and supportive team, and they are on Ian’s side despite the conflicts his club membership brings. I liked that, and I liked that Ian had people like that in his corner. The dialog between the firefighters was snarky and had me laughing repeatedly.
So what didn’t I like? First, I had some trouble relating to Rory. It’s not that there was anything wrong with her, but I just struggled to connect with her. She’s funny and self-sufficient but that wasn’t quite enough for me. Her parents were seriously unbalanced doomsday preppers who lived in a secret bunker and tortured Rory with apocalyptic drills and training. I did like that Rory somehow managed to claw her way up from that dismal childhood but it was hard to understand. Now she owns a gun shop, and the story was very, very heavy on the gun talk, which got kind of boring for me.
What was most problematic for me, though is that Rory sells illegally modified firearms to known criminals like Ian’s MC. I kept thinking how scary and dangerous that was and how it led to all the trouble Rory finds herself in during this book. The book kind of ignores the illegal gun sales by saying “well, the MC wasn’t doing anything THAT bad”, but it’s admitted that the club members have killed people before so…? I had trouble understanding why otherwise law-abiding Rory would have such a blind spot there. Like book 1, Fan the Flames is written from Rory’s point of view, so the fact that I had trouble relating to her made it a bit harder for me to get into the story.
I thought Rory and Ian had some good chemistry, but I didn’t think we saw enough about where that came from. Again, seeing just Rory’s point of view of course limited my perspective a bit, but I wasn’t quite sure what started Ian’s attraction. I got that Rory was inexperienced with men so naturally she’d be reluctant to act on her crush on Ian, but what motivated Ian? Why did he have a crush on sheltered, socially awkward Rory? Why did he wait so long to act on it, and what suddenly and very abruptly got him moving at the start of this book? I really would have liked to hear his side!
I was hoping this book would be a home run for me, but even though it wasn’t I can definitely say it’s the first MC book I genuinely enjoyed. Other MC fans will probably enjoy this one even more than I did.
Grade: 3.5 out of 5
*I received a review copy of this book from the publisher.