Fire on the Mountain by PD Singer
When Jake signs up for a season as a forest ranger in the high country of Colorado, it seems like a great way to take a break before continuing his education. The mountains are beautiful, he gets to live in a cabin near a small lake where he can fish, and his partner Kurt is coaching him in archery. It’s heaven, with the occasional forest fire.
Kurt’s a good partner — confident, competent, experienced, just what a rookie like Jake needs. He’s also good looking, not modest, and always around. Jake’s living in the closet, not just in the great outdoors, but is Kurt trying to get him to come sniff the fresh air? Jake can’t tell, but when a small fire whips out of control, things could really heat up!
I originally got this book because Jenre’s Well Read raved about the sequel and thus prompting me to read the first book in the series. While I may not have enjoyed this offering as much as Jen did, there are some interesting aspects to the book. The fire fighting depiction is really stunning in detail and authenticity, which helps the book since the romance aspect is rather weak and diluted. The setting and strong sense of work in the fire scenes kept the book interesting, although more time and attention to developing the characters and the romance would have helped the book.
The book opens with a scene of Jake and Kurt fighting a mild fire and preventing it from spreading. Once the last embers are out, Jake struggles with his attraction to Kurt and sets up the pace and plot of the book. Told in first person from Jake’s POV, Jake and Kurt are fire fighters and spend the time in the book with Jake fighting his attraction while working alongside Kurt at their job. The story goes into extensive detail about their job as forest rangers and introduces multiple life threatening harrowing fires they must tirelessly work to put out. This keeps the two men mostly busy and any down time is spent with Jake masturbating about Kurt. There is only one sex scene at the very end, a gratuitous and unnecessary scene but without it there would only be the numerous masturbation scenes of Jake’s.
The setting is similarly well developed and the crisp wind and mild temperatures of the time come across very well. This helps keep the first half of the book interesting and entertaining even while the connection between the two men stutters and develops incredibly slowly. Although the story gives tremendous detail about fire fighting, the actual characters are not nearly as thorough. There is one comment about Jake being a forest ranger in between school but why did he choose that particular job? Is there a background or training needed? What is his family like and his history? What experiences have led him to be the way he is and shaped who he is? None of these questions are answered and I left both characters lacked depth from their surface characterization. Jake and Kurt appear to simply exist in the time and place of the actions and events in the book, even with the vague reference to Kurt having been hurt in the past, without the much needed context. Additionally Jake’s virginal status is mentioned numerous times but the reasons are vague and indistinct.
By about halfway through the book I was getting bored and struggled to finish the last half as the men are separated for most of it. The attack of conscience Jake has and how he convinces himself his feelings for Kurt are unwelcome lingers on slightly too long. His inexperience forgives part of the extended angst and Kurt’s actions clearly show the truth, so this angst ended up being too much instead of just right. This combined with the too many solo masturbation scenes which had me skimming until the story moved on.
The writing is decent and really the best parts are the fire fighting. If you’ve never read a book that uses such intimate knowledge affectively, this may hold your attention and give a fascinating view of a setting and job not often well depicted. The immature and inexperienced Jake wears slightly as a first person narrator and showing more of Kurt’s personality would have improved the story, as well as a tighter connection. However clearly reader opinion will vary and if nothing else, I can recommend the book for the descriptive quality, which is higher than a good number of books offer.
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