Blue Smoke

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Reena Hale is an arson investigator who steps into an inferno of madness when a man begins to haunt her life with astring of horrifying crimes.

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Reena Hale is an arson investigator who steps into an inferno of madness when a man begins to haunt her life with astring of horrifying crimes.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The Barnes & Noble Review
Nora Roberts's steamy thriller about a beautiful arson investigator and her pyromaniacal stalker is aptly titled: Where there's this much smoke, there's bound to be plenty of fire.

Catarina "Reena" Hale's life was changed forever when, at the age of 11, she watched her family's restaurant in Baltimore's Little Italy go up in flames. Determined to become a fire inspector like her hero John Minger, the man who, in large part, found out who torched her parents' pizzeria, Reena eventually graduates college and becomes a detective on the Baltimore Police Department's arson task force. And although she seems to have it all -- a loving family, good friends, and a promising career -- Reena's love life is disastrous. Her first boyfriend died after allegedly falling asleep while smoking. Another relationship was tragically cut short by a bizarre death on a back road. Reena's lonely existence is changed, however, when she buys a house that is next door to a hunky carpenter named Bo. But when a man who onced stalked Reena reappears and begins to turn up the heat by targeting her loved ones with his deadly fires, she must track down the psychopathic arsonist before she and her new lover get burned -- permanently.

With such an addictively readable blend of psychological thriller and romantic intrigue, fans of the prolific Roberts's previous novels (Blue Dahlia, Black Rose, et al.) will burn through this red-hot page-turner -- Dean Koontz meets Danielle Steel. Paul Goat Allen

Publishers Weekly
Romantic suspense queen Roberts (Blue Dahlia, etc.) lights up Baltimore's Little Italy with this appealing story of love, family, food and arson. Eleven-year-old Reena Hale, watching her family's restaurant go up in flames, decides to become an arson investigator. The fire shapes another child's destiny, too, as Joey Pastorelli sees his father go to prison for setting the blaze. Reena's close-knit Italian family rebuilds; Reena grows up and completes police and firefighter training. Despite inheriting her mother's good looks, Reena proves unlucky in love, mainly because her beaux tend to die in fires, but her fortunes look up after she meets hunky carpenter Bo Goodnight. Bo gets along with Reena's family, friends and co-workers, and handles the demands of her career with patient humor, so nothing stands in their way except an obsessed, pyromaniac stalker determined to kill any man Reena loves. Although it does take Reena an inordinately long time to identify her nemesis, Roberts portrays investigative procedure more accurately than her many imitators. Well-sketched supporting characters with potential subplots of their own suggest that the prolific Roberts will put her feet to the fire again. Main selection, the Literary Guild and Doubleday Book Club. (Oct.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
When preteen Reena Hale witnesses someone torching her family's restaurant, it impacts her entire life. Now an adult, she's a top-notch arson investigator, and suddenly her job gets very personal. Fires have clues in her name, and the seemingly random deaths of people she's loved take on a more sinister meaning. Why is she being targeted? Joyce Bean reads smoothly, introducing each character with Roberts's cues to an emotional landscape. She maintains an easy rhythm, which complements the story. The plot crosses mystery, suspense, and romance genres, but each element has equal weight, and Bean allows the characters to play to their strengths. An essential purchase.-Jodi L. Israel, MLS, Jamaica Plain, MA Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Beautiful Italian babe with a passion for fire and doomed hunks joins the arson squad and discovers that someone has held a torch for her since she was a child. When Reena Hale is 11 years old, she watches her family's Baltimore pizzeria go up in flames. Thanks to a local arson detective, John Minger, and the girl's keen memory, police determine that a neighborhood crook whose young son had recently attacked Reena was out for revenge, and soon cops publicly haul the dirt bag off to jail. The large and loving Hale family bands together and rebuilds; Reena grows up curious about the origins of fire. She attends college and, after her boyfriend dies in an accident, joins the police force and learns the inner workings of the fire department. Eventually, she teams with Minger to solve the city's suspicious fires. Meanwhile, over the years, a shady character has been hiding in the shadows, waiting for the right moment to violently sabotage Reena's relationships (usually with the help of explosives). Somehow Reena doesn't put together that all of her boyfriends have been in the path of catastrophic (occasionally deadly) events, so her stalker hits the phone lines to clue her in with dirty messages that become more and more intimate. When Reena launches a torrid love affair with her new neighbor, whose truck soon explodes, she begins to get it. Fearing for her family's safety, Reena reopens past cases and learns that her troubles started when she was a child. The tale builds to a breathless climax as she (literally) races to beat out the flames of one fire before determining where the next one will be set. Roberts does it again with this fast-paced romantic mystery that's both steamy andthrilling, despite its somewhat obvious nature.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780515141399
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 5/30/2006
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 464
  • Sales rank: 188,976
  • Product dimensions: 4.22 (w) x 6.82 (h) x 1.29 (d)

Meet the Author

Nora Roberts is the #1 New York Times-bestselling author of more than 200 novels. She is also the author of the bestselling In Death series written under the pen name J.D. Robb. There are more than 400 million copies of her books in print.


Not only has Nora Roberts written more bestsellers than anyone else in the world (according to Publishers Weekly), she’s also created a hybrid genre of her own: the futuristic detective romance. And that’s on top of mastering every subgenre in the romance pie: the family saga, the historical, the suspense novel. But this most prolific and versatile of authors might never have tapped into her native talent if it hadn't been for one fateful snowstorm.

As her fans well know, in 1979 a blizzard trapped Roberts at home for a week with two bored little kids and a dwindling supply of chocolate. To maintain her sanity, Roberts started scribbling a story -- a romance novel like the Harlequin paperbacks she'd recently begun reading. The resulting manuscript was rejected by Harlequin, but that didn't matter to Roberts. She was hooked on writing. Several rejected manuscripts later, her first book was accepted for publication by Silhouette.

For several years, Roberts wrote category romances for Silhouette -- short books written to the publisher's specifications for length, subject matter and style, and marketed as part of a series of similar books. Roberts has said she never found the form restrictive. "If you write in category, you write knowing there's a framework, there are reader expectations," she explained. "If this doesn't suit you, you shouldn't write it. I don't believe for one moment you can write well what you wouldn't read for pleasure."

Roberts never violated the reader's expectations, but she did show a gift for bringing something fresh to the romance formula. Her first book, Irish Thoroughbred (1981), had as its heroine a strong-willed horse groom, in contrast to the fluttering young nurses and secretaries who populated most romances at the time. But Roberts's books didn't make significant waves until 1985, when she published Playing the Odds, which introduced the MacGregor clan. It was the first bestseller of many.

Roberts soon made a name for herself as a writer of spellbinding multigenerational sagas, creating families like the Scottish MacGregors, the Irish Donovans and the Ukrainian Stanislaskis. She also began working on romantic suspense novels, in which the love story unfolds beneath a looming threat of violence or disaster. She grew so prolific that she outstripped her publishers' ability to print and market Nora Roberts books, so she created an alter ego, J.D. Robb. Under the pseudonym, she began writing romantic detective novels set in the future. By then, millions of readers had discovered what Publishers Weekly called her "immeasurable diversity and talent."

Although the style and substance of her books has grown, Roberts remains loyal to the genre that launched her career. As she says, "The romance novel at its core celebrates that rush of emotions you have when you are falling in love, and it's a lovely thing to relive those feelings through a book."

Good To Know

Roberts still lives in the same Maryland house she occupied when she first started writing -- though her carpenter husband has built on some additions. She and her husband also own Turn the Page Bookstore Café in Boonsboro, Maryland. When Roberts isn't busy writing, she likes to drop by the store, which specializes in Civil War titles as well as autographed copies of her own books.

Roberts sued fellow writer Janet Dailey in 1997, accusing her of plagiarizing numerous passages of her work over a period of years. Dailey paid a settlement and publicly apologized, blaming stress and a psychological disorder for her misconduct.

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    1. Also Known As:
      J. D. Robb; Sarah Hardesty; Jill March; Eleanor Marie Robertson (birth name)
    2. Hometown:
      Keedysville, Maryland
    1. Date of Birth:
    2. Place of Birth:
      Silver Spring, Maryland

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 171 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 171 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 26, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Jennifer Wardrip - Personal Read

    When Catarina "Reena" Hale was eleven years old, she watched with her family--father Gib, mother Bianca, sister Francesca, sister Isabella, and brother Xander--as their family business, Sirico's, burned to the ground. The case came to a swift conclusion, when the father of a boy who had attempted to assault Reena is picked up for arson. The family rebuilds their business, their family ties stay strong, and their love and respect in the neighborhood grows. <BR/><BR/>We fast-forward to Reena in college, where she's finally decided to lose her virginity to Josh, a fellow student who yearns to be a writer. After her sister Bella's dream wedding, Reena has sex with her boyfriend, returns home, and later discovers that Josh has died during a horrific apartment fire--after supposedly falling asleep in bed with a lit cigarette. <BR/><BR/>Again, fast-forward. Reena is still in training to become an arson investigator, her life-long dream. She's a member of the police force, has worked actual fires with her fellow firefighters, and now needs to finish her training. A firefighter she was thinking of dating dies in an apparent robbery, shot and left in his burning truck. <BR/><BR/>Still farther into the future, Reena is a full-fledged arson investigator, and tragedy finds her once again. Only days after earning her gold shield, Luke, a boyfriend whose marriage proposal she turned down, has his Mercedes burned sky-high, and of course Reena is the main suspect. After she's cleared, she's only more determined than ever to make fire her job--to find out who sets it, and why, and to bring the perpetrators to justice. <BR/><BR/>Then she meets Bowen "Bo" Goodnight, her new next-door-neighbor, and feelings and emotions get jumbled up with the fires that seem to dog her every step. Because someone has made her their vendetta, and will stop at nothing to make sure that his own brand of justice is served. <BR/><BR/>I loved BLUE SMOKE! Although it took me four days to read, weighing in at 437 pages and spanning twenty years, the book is a wonderful mix of engaging family saga, taut police/arson procedural, and down and out thriller. I don't agree with the other reviewers who said this book was "horror" or that Ms. Roberts delved too deeply into the mind of the killer--most romantic suspense (and this is definitely one of those books) these days go more into the who, how, and why and less on the fluff. I commend Ms. Roberts for another winning story, one which I was sad to see end. I loved reading about the Hale family and their extended relations, and I'm sure you'll be as enthralled by them as I was. <BR/><BR/>**I have to also say that BLUE SMOKE reads a lot like Nora Robert's alter-ego, J.D. Robb, in a lot of instances. Some of the short sentences, rapid-pace dialogue, and out-loud ruminating are reminiscent of Eve Dallas, but that only adds to the allure of BLUE SMOKE, instead of taking away from it. Kudos on another winner!

    5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 25, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Awesome book

    I have read this book when it first came out and I really enjoyed it very much and had me keep on reading. Nora Roberts is the best. I agree with other is a GREAT book and I HIGHLY recommend this book to anyone!

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 25, 2007

    Good Book

    This was a very good book. I loved Bo, he was the perfect love interest. The characters were very likeable and the chemistry was great once the two got together. The killer is not kept a secret so if you like to figure out the killer in books, then this book is not for you. Overall, enjoyable read.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 29, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Great Book

    This is the first book I've read of Nora Roberts and was thrilled. The storyline I thought was great. I've never read a book with the main character as a woman fire dectective. I loved how she was so strong and determined and never backed down of becoming what she's always wanted to be since the fire at her parents Italian resturaunt when she was young. The love scenes are excellent and I enjoyed how Nora thought of making the male character fall in love from "afar".

    This is absolutely a book to read of Nora Roberts.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 24, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Could not put this down

    The characters were phenominal. Was actually able to grow up with the main character. The change in text for the villain helped to give a different voice to that character. Nora Roberts hit it out of the park again with another number one.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 19, 2007

    Loved it!

    I don't always read these kinds of books, but this one was steady reading, all the way through. I didn't want to put it down. Nice job.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 29, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Blue Smoke - simmering fire

    Nora Roberts' at her best. Intriquing and attention grabbing from the beginnng to the end.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 13, 2008

    It's not another trashy romance novel

    I had quit reading Nora Roberts for a while because it seemed they were getting to be just trashy romance novels. I am glad I picked this up off the sale rack. It was good and definitely a page turner!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 20, 2008

    Never a dull moment

    This was my first Nora Roberts Novel, but definately not the last. Her attention to detail was outstanding. The characters were so alive it was almost like watching a movie. I knew who the suspect was pretty much the whole way through, but the ending still had me on the edge of my chair!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 13, 2007

    Nothing too much to fault here, and she breaks new ground

    This book is classic Roberts style, with one pleasant exception: her heroine is Italian. The cop that the heroine becomes seems familiar to me, and that's because she is the Roberts female cop archetype. So she's strong, and independent, all are all the others, but she's an individual, and as different from the others as the others are from her and from each other. I've grown accustomed to seeing Roberts' women as Irish or of Irish ancestry, and I liked the fact that she shook things up a bit here. The story itself was good. There's very little mystery, because we know who the baddies are, but the tension, the passion, the drama, the characterization, the emotion -- all of these are classic Nora Roberts and, therefore, they're superbly done.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 18, 2007

    awesome book!

    this book is just awesome and I could not put it down....i even lost sleep by reading this but it was well worth it! I even gave it to a friend of mine to read it. I highly recommend this book. If you see other people saying it's dull, it's not. take my word for it! I enjoy nora roberts and she is a great writer!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 18, 2007

    My First Book By Nora Roberts

    I absolutely loved it from beginning to end. I would reccomend this book to anybody and everybody. The ending was definitely my favorite part. It isnt possible to be dissapointed by this book, if anything u might love it...

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 30, 2006

    A reviewer

    Hi,i'm a huge supporter and fan of Nora Roberts. She's the best. This book, Blue Smoke, was the first book i read of hers. Words can't describe how amazing this single book is.No, it's not a's a masterpiece! If you read this masterpiece you WILL cry, aw, jump,and never take your eyes off it. This book is full of romance, action, mystery, and adventure. Please, if you are a reader and you're looking for a masterpiece by Ms. Nora Roberts, you got to read this book. Note this piece of information, exclusively from me...DO NOT EVER UNDER ESTIMATE OR PUT DOWN NORA AND HER BOOKS..thank you.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 22, 2006

    Good - Not your typical Nora

    Blue Smoke was a good read. A little slow to get to the punch and the 'villian' was a little too obvious, BUT, the book itself was really good. The writing was more along Nora's JD Robb books, but since I like those, this was right up my alley!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 19, 2006

    Suspenseful, heartfelt emotions

    This was a classic Nora Roberts book, but even better! Suspense builds toward the ending, but getting there made me laugh, gasp, boo, and want to cry.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 2, 2009

    more from this reviewer


    Pyromania - an impulse/control desire or need to set things on fire. Where there's smoke there's fire, and where there's fire there's often a pyromaniac. But few pyromaniacs are also sadists intent on killing. Such is the terror faced by arson investigator Reena Hale. As a child she had seen her family's restaurant go up in flames, and as she watched the devastation she determined to learn more about fires and some day become an investigator. She went through the arduous years of study, and as our story opens Reena is an attractive woman, an arson investigator for the Baltimore Police Department. She loves her work, finds it thrilling and satisfying. The same can't be said for any romance in her life. She's had some possibles but so far none of the men have been willing to put up with the danger she faces or her unpredictable work hours. At last, she seems to have found the right one - neighbor Bo Goodnight. He not only accepts her, but wants her. He easily adapts to her extended Italian family and the perils she faces. Just as it seems her life is what she dreamed it would be she begins receiving threatening phone calls from someone who sounds like a sociopath determined to do away with Reena and those she loves. Joyce Bean delivers a tension filled reading of this suspense/romance from the prolific pen of Nora Roberts. Bean never succumbs to dramatizing the danger but mesmerizes listeners with a steady, articulate voice performance letting the narrative speak for itself. - Gail Cooke

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 24, 2014

    Reena and Bo

    Reena is a strong willed, independent woman with a huge family and even bigger goals. I love her sense of humor and her back bone. Not your normal needy woman in a romance book. She can and does take care of herself. Bo is a funny man with a heart of gold and just enough temper and spine to keep him from getting that perfect guy rap. Between the fires, murder, mystery and all the drama that comes with having a big family, this book is the perfect read. I've read it dozens of times and I love it more each time. Id give it three thumbs up if I could manage it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 25, 2013


    Throughly enjoyed this book. Very end of seat.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 19, 2013

    very good book


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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 11, 2013

    Interesting read.

    I liked the large type as it was easier on my eyes, however, this was not the relaxing reading I was used to from Nora Roberts. I prefer the regular romance stories without the violence and mystery.

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