Title:Fire on the Mountain (The Mountains #1)
Author: P.D. Singer
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: M/M Contemporary romance
Length: 105 pages
Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
A Guest Review by Jenre
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’ve not read a book by this author before but the blurb to Fire on the Mountain sounded so attractive, I thought I’d give it a go. It turned out to be a an engaging story with realistic, likable characters.
Jake is spending his summer season as a forest ranger before heading off to Pharmacy college. His job is to drive through the forest park looking out for the beginnings of forest fires and putting them out before they can catch and do too much damage as well as keep an eye on the various tourists, walkers and occasional scout groups who wander around the park. He is partnered by Kurt who has spent a few years doing this job. Jake and Kurt are basically living in each other’s pockets in a tiny cabin in the middle of nowhere so it’s a good job that they gel and work together. Jake is gay and he finds Kurt, who he believes to be straight, very attractive. He’s managed to keep a lid on his feelings for a few weeks now until something happens to put a spark to his lust for Kurt. The following few weeks are difficult for Jake as he struggles with his raging lust and growing respect and admiration for Kurt, until one day both men are thrown into a life threatening situation and Jake can no longer keep his feelings to himself.
Fire on the Mountain is what you might call a ‘slow burner’ – no pun intended. For most of the book we are treated to descriptions of the daily lives and job of a forest ranger. I didn’t know anything about this job before I read this book, so I found this part completely fascinating. I had no idea about how much effort goes into seeking out potential fire hazards and dealing with them. I also loved the descriptions of the forest park and the simple life that these two men lead, cut off from civilisation:
The road had been heavily shored up with rocks where the truck was supposed to back up to the water, to prevent erosion and tire tracks, but the rest of the lakeside was untouched. The trees came all the way to the water in a few places. One was tall and sturdy enough to hang a Tarzan rope on. There was a rim of long grass around most of it, but no real beach, unless the rocky section leading into the water by the truck ramp counted. The lake was only about sixty yards across, and deep, a beautiful blue jewel set into the mountains. A little stream fed the lake with snowmelt –deer liked to come down to the water there. I’d spent evenings here with a fishing rod, watching the stars come out. The stars don’t look like that in the city, where there are too many competing lights. In the wilderness, it’s like it must have been thousands of years ago, when men started naming the constellations. I loved the lake; it was one of the great joys of being out here.
As you can see from this quotation, the story is told in the first person by Jake. I liked Jake very much. He has almost a wide eyed innocence about him and the way he views the world which I found utterly charming. Jake is also somewhat of a naval gazer, being introspective, and he perhaps worries over his problems a little too much, especially later in the book. He has tried so hard not to fall for Kurt because he knows that it will cause a rift in their burgeoning friendship. Once he realises that it is too late and he has a huge case of unrequited lust, he tries to deal with it the only way a man can and takes himself in hand (literally). The number of masturbation scenes in the story was at first mildly amusing but got a bit tiresome after a while – there’s only so much that can be said about a man masturbating, after all, and I began to wish that some of them had been ‘fade to black’. Although Jake’s naivety was endearing most of the time, when it came to his assumptions about Kurt’s sexuality I was astounded that he didn’t figure it out before he did. Even Kurt is exasperated at what he saw as his obvious attempts to get Jake’s attention:
“I spent most of two weeks trying to get your attention, and you have to ask that? I did everything but drop one wing and run in circles,”
Because we only see Kurt from Jake’s point of view it was a little more difficult to get an idea of his character. Jake has an obvious case of hero-worship when it comes to Kurt so he comes across as a little too wonderful. Having said that he acts kindly to others, gets on well with people and is an all round ‘nice guy’ so it was very difficult to dislike him at all. The other characters were also interesting, if a little stereotyped at times, but not enough to detract from my overall enjoyment of the book.
By the time I had finished Fire on the Mountain, I was pleased that I’d taken a chance with this ‘new to me’ author. The book was tightly plotted with a number of tense, exhilarating action scenes; the relationship between the heroes as friends and then lovers was beautifully done and contained a lovely gentleness which I found delightful; finally the descriptions of the forest park in all its terrible beauty just added to the overall positive feelings I had for this book. I recommend that you read Fire on the Mountain – you won’t regret it.