by MJ Fredrick, contemporary (2008)
Samhain Publishing, $5.50, ISBN 1-59998-954-9
Hmm, I have to say that the blurb of the story is rather misleading where the hero is concerned. Gabe Cooper, the hero of Hot Shot, is supposed to be an "everyday hero", but we are talking about a fellow who is described as "movie-star handsome" on the first page of the story and generally behaves more like an arrogant Hollywood celebrity shunning reporters. Gabe is actually famous for being this hot shot fireman who puts out forest fires like nobody's business. Really, he's not exactly what I am expecting from an "everyday hero".
Gabe Cooper is the leader of the Bear Claw Hot Shots and our heroine Peyton Michaels is a reporter from Up To The Minute who will be following these firefighters' every move as they go around doing their work. Predictably, Gabe is not thrilled to have her following them around, especially when she seemed to know his ex-wife Jen, because he's a twit like that. Like ER, where the doctors' lives on TV are always full of non-stop excitement, Gabe will soon show Peyton a really fun time on the road as what seems like World War 3 erupts in the wilderness as an arsonist runs wild all over the place.
Let's begin with the good stuff, shall we? The pacing is brisk and the non-stop action makes for some pretty enjoyable read in a cheesy drama-of-the-week manner. There are always children in dire danger and women to be rescued from being barbecued to crisp here. As over the top as some of the drama can be, I find it all pretty enjoyable.
As much as I enjoy the excitement, I have to say that I have my doubts about the romance. Peyton's "love" for Gabe seems more like a case of hero worship to me, especially when Gabe is a predictable type who loves to act as if he's this one big man who has to dramatically let the woman walk away because he's this big and tough guy who is born to wage primordial war with fire or something like that. In other words, he's just a whiny self-absorbed crybaby despite all those overgrown muscles of his. I'd say we give him a medal for his heroic antics here, but I have serious reservations about his ability to have a serious and committed relationship with anything more than his big hose.
Still, even if the romance is a bit on the weak side for me, there is plenty of action and firefighting excitement to keep things going. Hot Shot makes a better action story than a romance for me, but still, I can't deny that it is a pretty gripping fast-paced read. It's too bad about the boring hero and the comparatively weak romance, but Hot Shot is still fired up enough for me.
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