Former National Guard helicopter pilot Robin Harrow is ready for the best summer job of her life, working for Mount Hood Aviation. But when the wildfire sirens blare on her first day, it's into the hot seat for Robin and her super sexy copilot. Mickey Hamilton loves two things most of all: women and flying. So when Robin Harrow roars across his radar, he locks onto her trail with no intention of turning back. She wants a fling; he wants forever. Their one shot at a future demands that they first survive the present: together.
About the Author
M. L. Buchman has worked in fast food, theater, computers, publishing, and light manufacturing. It's amazing what you can do with a degree in geophysics. At one point he sold everything and spent 18 months riding a bicycle around the world. In 11,000 miles, he touched 15 countries and hundreds of amazing people. Since then, he has acquired a loving lady, the coolest kid on the planet, and lives in Portland, Oregon.
Carrington MacDuffie is a recording artist, writer, and voice actor who has narrated over 100 audiobooks and received numerous AudioFile Earphones awards and 6 Audie finalists. Her original audiobook of poetry and music, Many Things Invisible, was nominated for an Audie in 2 categories. Kliatt says, 'MacDuffie's reading is amazing.'
Read an Excerpt
Flash of Fire
A Firehawks Novel
By M.L. BUCHMAN
Sourcebooks, Inc.Copyright © 2016 M.L. Buchman
All rights reserved.
An alarm shattered the predawn silence. Not some squeaky little beeper. Not Macho Man in the Morning on the radio. And, thank all the gods there ever were, not the bloodcurdling "incoming enemy fire" siren that Robin Harrow had heard a lifetime's worth of during her six years of Arizona Army National Guard service — both in practice and during a pair of six-month deployments the AANG had rocked in Afghanistan.
But it was just as strident.
She lay in her bunk a moment longer, as grunts rolled out of their own racks up and down the barracks hall, feet thudding to the floor, moans and groans sounding through the thin plywood walls. With no drill sergeant to move them along, there was more shuffle than hustle, but they were moving.
Robin had been awake and glaring at the blank darkness of the bunkhouse's low plywood ceiling for hours, only now coming visible in the first light through the thin curtains. Awake and ready to go. Day One on the job, also Day One of the fire season. She'd lain there wondering just what she'd signed up for and how long it would take for the action to start. Part two had just been answered — not very long.
Bring it, people.
In the interview for Mount Hood Aviation, they'd promised her that when it hit, she'd be scrambling. She was absolutely down with that, no matter how little she actually believed them.
After the worst of the clatter in the neighboring dormitory rooms had settled, Robin dropped out of her bunk. She'd used her dad's firefighter trick — at least her mom was pretty sure her dad had been a firefighter, so she'd watched a lot of firefighter movies and learned what she could. Her flight suit was pre-slipped with fire-retardant cotton long johns and the legs of her flight suit in turn were already in her unlaced boots. In thirty seconds flat, she went from sleeping bare on top of the covers to lacing her boots.
She'd spotted the job opening for a temp one-season piloting job and, needing to get out of her post-service life in the worst way, answered the ad. Her time in the Guard had included certifying for heli-bucket brigade on out-of-control wildfires. It was a damn sight better than her gig in her mother's truck stop restaurant playing the "Hi! I'm Robin!" perky waitress. She'd had way more than enough of that as a kid and teen.
Phoebe's Tucson Truck Stop — founded by and named for Grandma Phoebe Harrow — was one of the last big independents on the routes. A massive complex that sat on the I-10 just south of Tucson. They could fuel over a dozen rigs at a time and park hundreds. Truck wash and basic service, certified CAT scales, motel if you wanted a night out of your rig, barbershop, and — the bane of her existence — Mom's Grill.
Peddling herself as a waitress was part of the gig, or at least pretending to: tight — and too goddamn short — outfit to reveal her soldier-fit body, her light-blond hair kept short with that chopped look that men thought was so cute — and she liked for its low maintenance. She really did do it herself with a pair of scissors.
Robin double-checked her Nomex pants and her leather Army boots, now that's what a girl should wear, not some damned hot-pink mini-skort. She pulled on a white cotton tee — screw the bra, she'd never liked the damn things anyway, and on a Harrow woman, they weren't mandatory. Nomex jacket in one hand, personal gear bag over her shoulder, and she was good to go. Nobody was going to mess with Robin the firefighter pilot.
She headed out into the hall of the now-silent dormitory. Not a soul in sight. She put on some hustle down the dark and narrow hallway. But she'd gone the wrong way and hit a dead end. Turning back, she went looking for a way out of this place. The corridors weren't long, but it was a maze worse than dodging the truckers with straying hands.
Despite Robin's constant battles at the truck stop, the tips had been really good; Grandma Phoebe's pointers on how to work money out of the late-night guys' soused brains — and their deeply overinflated illusions of what was never going to happen — paid well, but ... GAG!
Much to her surprise, when she told Mama and Grandma about the ad for a seasonal firefighting job, they'd shuffled her ass out the door and over to the airport so fast it had left her head spinning. Robin had always assumed she'd eventually settle into the traces to become the third Harrow woman to run Phoebe's Tucson Truck Stop, but maybe not. At least not this season.
Robin zagged the other direction through the MHA camp's labyrinthine barracks after hitting a second dead-end corridor. The building was far bigger than it looked from the outside. Actually, it simply had more cramped into it than should be possible. She spotted a few guys coming out of a door, holding their toothbrushes. But when she arrived, she didn't see any women's bathroom close beside it.
Robin gave up on finding the women's bathroom and walked into the men's. While she leaned over the cracked porcelain and brushed her teeth, the guys who were rushing by half-dressed gave her odd looks reflected in the sheet of scratched steel screwed to the battered wood wall as a mirror. In moments, she was the only one there, staring idly at the "Jimmy + Theresa" inside a heart and a thousand more inscriptions carved into the fir-plank wall with a penknife over the years.
Robin pocketed the toothbrush and rinsed her face. If this were the AANG, grunts would all be formed up on the line by now, but in the civilian world ... the men would still be moving slow and the women were probably back in their rooms doing their hair. She stroked a damp hand through her short hair and she was done with that. Robin headed for the field.
Robin headed down the hall and banged out the doors, ready to leap at the fire ... and was staring at the gravel parking lot. Not a soul here. The lot was crowded with dusty pickups that had seen better lives a long, long time ago, an impressive array of muscle cars — enough to make a good drag race — and several motorbikes — some hot and some not. But no people.
Damn it! She'd come out the wrong side of the building.
* * *
"How was the wedding?"
Mickey Hamilton was moving too slow to avoid Gordon's cheery punch on the arm. He'd pulled in late last night and he'd been more stumbling than functioning since the fire alarm had rousted him. He'd had enough hours of sleep, but he really needed some coffee.
"Morning, Gordon." Mickey rubbed at his eyes, but it didn't help. The first day of MHA's fire season, he should have been allowed to sleep in. But no-o. Sunrise hadn't even hit the horizon yet, though it was only minutes away, and the first call had come in. Most of the team were already at the base of the airfield's two-story control tower even though it was less than five minutes since the alarm. MHA tried to hit fifteen minutes from alarm to airborne and no one wanted to screw it up on the first day.
The rising sun was dazzling off the glaciered peak of Mount Hood that loomed to the west. The air smelled ice fresh and pine sharp on the June breeze — especially after spending four days back home in the Eastern Oregon, where the grass was already going dry and dusty. It was going to be a hell of a fire season.
He breathed in deep. Here the Doug fir and spruce that surrounded the camp rolled for dozens of miles in every direction, except up the face of the mountain that spilled glacier-cooled air down through the warm morning.
The grass strip runway split the ramshackle camp buildings behind them from the line of beautiful firefighting craft parked down the farside. Straight across stood Firehawk One. He could almost see a frown on its blunt nose because Emily wouldn't be aboard. But his own Bell 212 was three down the row and was just as eager to get going as he was.
"Smells like a good morning to go fight a fire."
"Avoiding the question, Mickey. Tell me, was the bride hot?"
"My sister, Gordon. Get a grip."
Vern, one of the Firehawk pilots, moseyed up looking about as awake as Mickey felt.
"Hey, Mickey. So, was the bride hot?"
Mickey sighed. "Yeah, she was ..." And he left the guys hanging for several very long seconds. "But not as hot as the number-two bridesmaid."
"Yes!" Gordon pumped a fist. "Details, Mickey. We want details."
Mickey scanned the crowd gathering. MHA's pilots, smokejumpers, and support personal were all hustling up. The team's leaders, Mark and a spectacularly pregnant Emily, and Carly, their genius fire behavior analyst, were all conferring on the platform landing one story up the control tower stairs. But they didn't look ready to announce anything, so he turned back to his audience, which now included Steve, the drone pilot, and Cal, the photographer.
"Suzanna Rose. Went to high school together, but we never hooked up. Saw her at rehearsal dinner and let's just say I saw a whole lot of her after that."
"It's those blue eyes of yours."
"Nah, it's because he looks like an ex-Marine."
"Which I'm not." Mickey had started flying helicopters before he started driving cars. Actually, he'd flown his first helicopter on his tenth birthday and never looked back. It had been a ten-inch-long, radio-controlled wonder with red-white-and-blue racing stripes that he'd crashed and rebuilt a hundred times. It still ruled a place of honor on his dresser at his parents' house in Bend, Oregon. He'd been fifteen before his first real bird. Had been with MHA for eight years since graduation, all of it flying to fight wildfires.
"Women don't care."
"It's because you're so pretty." Gordon tried to pat his cheeks until Mickey fisted him lightly in the gut.
"Let's just say it was an awesome wedding."
"Seeing her again?" Vern, the cowboy-tall pilot from Washington State.
"Nah." Mickey tried to sound casual about it. A part of him — a past part — should have been pleased by how neatly it all worked out, but another part of him — one he didn't know well — was disappointed. "She's leaving for a job in Europe next week. Be gone at least a year."
"Perfect!" was Gordon's response, but Vern looked a little sad for him, only reinforcing the feeling of disappointment that Mickey didn't understand.
Of course Vern was biased. He'd gone and fallen in love with the gorgeous and diminutive MHA chief mechanic over the winter. Oddest-looking couple, but it was working for them which was ... good? There'd been a whole lot of weddings lately among the MHA top staff and it was ... odd. He sighed but kept it to himself. Mickey missed the rest of the guys when he'd hit a bar and pick up some hot chick with the standard, "I fly helicopters to fight wildfires."
"Oh, hey. You gotta see the new pilot. Emily's replacement. She's amazing!" Gordon, however, Mickey could still count on.
He glanced up at the pregnant Emily up on the landing. It was still wrong that she was grounded.
So she'd finally found a replacement? Flying without Emily Beale in the lead this season was going to be like having one of your arms amputated and no one telling you. You just kept reaching out and getting nothing but air. Of course, one look at her huge belly as she stood there next to Mark up on the first-story landing of the tower, and he wondered how she'd even fit in the pilot's seat for the candidate-interview flights.
They'd gone on for weeks. Hopefuls — all guys — showing up, sometimes several a day, trooping into the Oregon wilderness and driving up to the high Mount Hood Aviation base camp. To substitute for Emily, someone was going to have to be seriously good. She was the best heli-pilot Mickey had seen in a decade of flying and eight years on fires.
In between refresher flights up and down the slopes of Mount Hood, Mickey and the others had taken to hanging out at the wooden picnic tables in front of the mess hall, sipping cold sodas, and watching the slaughter.
Mickey could see the failures almost as fast as Beale had them back out of the sky. Military-quality control but no feel for a fire — not even the flaming steel drums set up midfield. Weekend aviation jocks who thought that flying fire was just about taking the certification course — MHA wasn't a place heli-aviation firefighters started, it was where they strove to end up. Top fliers from other outfits slipped into camp quietly so their current bosses wouldn't know, then slipped out just as quietly when Emily booted their butts for not being up to MHA standards.
And then she'd hired a female pilot. If it was anyone else than Emily Beale, you could claim gender bias, but not her. Emily only cared about finding the very best. She set an amazing standard.
"So ..." Mickey turned back to the other guys as Betsy the cook worked her way through the crowd with a stack of Styrofoam and a pitcher of coffee.
Everything stopped while they all loaded up, then reconvened gripping cups of Betsy's best brew.
"So, what's the new recruit like other than hot?"
* * *
Robin stood at the back door of the MHA barracks and stared up at the trees. She'd arrived four days ago at this funky, little camp lost in the foothills of Mount Hood, Oregon, for an interview and still couldn't believe it every time she saw the forest.
It had been six months since she'd flown, and that had been her last day in the Arizona Army National Guard. The army heliport in Marana just north of Tucson, where she'd spent most of her six years in the AANG, was three hundred acres of baking tarmac covered with long, neatly parked rows of Blackhawks and Apaches, surrounded by tens of thousands of acres of baking desert.
Mount Hood Aviation was a tiny grass strip perched at five thousand feet on the side of an eleven-thousand-foot-tall dormant volcano. A runway stuck in the middle of trees that soared a hundred feet or more high. Spruce, Douglas fir, maples, and alder. Beneath them lay a thick mat of blackberry, salal, and a hundred other scrub varieties that she didn't recognize. And moss frickin' everywhere: dripping from tree branches, mixed into the grass, clinging to the north sides of buildings and roofs. The lush biomass was so dense that it was impossible to take in, but she could taste it in the air, thick enough with oxygen that it felt like she was in an emergency ward and they were pumping it directly into this Arizona gal.
Robin had grown up in Tucson, served twenty miles away in Marana and ten kajillion away in Afghanistan — all places where oxygen was served in reasonable helpings rather than Oregonian truck stop — sized portions. She'd never been much of traveler, so Oregon was about as familiar as the moon.
The MHA base camp was the run-down remains of a Boy Scout camp along one side of the grass runway. Plywood barracks, dining hall, and a rec hall turned parachute-and-supplies loft, all of the wood gone gray with age — at least all that wasn't covered by the frickin' moss.
She decided that going back through the dim maze of the barracks would be ill-advised. Like Alice, she might slide down the rabbit hole and never be seen again. She began walking around the building.
On the far side of the runway that cut this place in two stood a line of the finest Firehawks she'd ever seen, which more than made up for the disaster of the camp. MHA was one of the only civilian outfits to run the converted Black Hawk helicopters that she'd spent six years flying for the military. That was a huge draw, almost as big as getting out of her waitress outfit.
Robin imagined taking that pretty Firehawk helicopter — painted with the Mount Hood Aviation trademark gloss black and brilliant red-and-orange flames like a hi-fuel dragster running out at the strip in Tucson on a hot summer night — and lifting it smoothly into the Oregon sky. The controls had been silky in Robin's hands during the interview and subsequent training flights. Though it ticked her off a little that the MHA firefighters had better-equipped Black Hawks than the ones she'd flown for the Arizona Army National Guard.
The AANG birds were always three steps behind. The Night Stalkers of Special Operations got the best, of course, then the Army and Navy got the good gear. The National Guard didn't always get the castoffs, but it felt like they did. The Army and Navy made sure you knew you were a second-class citizen — they were dumb enough to think they were both first when actually neither was. But as a Guarder, she'd never met a Spec Ops dude anyway, so they didn't affect her reality.
Now she was discovering that she'd been four steps behind. This measly little civilian outfit fielded three Firehawks with fully electronic glass-screen cockpits. A lot of the Army and Navy birds were still mechanical dial and gauge, like all of the AANG craft. The high tech had taken some getting used to during her training flights, though all in a good way. Of course she'd now been totally spoiled.
Excerpted from Flash of Fire by M.L. BUCHMAN. Copyright © 2016 M.L. Buchman. Excerpted by permission of Sourcebooks, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This is the 4th book in the Firehawk Series. Best read in order but each book can also be read as a stand alone issue. M. L. Buchman can certainly write about successful, fearless women who are on a mission in life and who meet men that change their minds, and he can do it well! These characters are people you would like to have in your own life... Mount Hood Aviation, ASA: MHA, contain an elite group of men and women who are firefighters and are sent on missions to fly into places far and wide by the government. In Flash of Fire we are introduced to former Army National Guard helicopter pilot Robin Harrow, who goes from a waitress in her family's truck stop in Arizona to joining up with MHA. She expects to fly and fight fires for one season and return back home. Plain and simple, but that's not how it turns out. Robin finds herself falling hard for this elite bunch of people but most certainly with a co-pilot who is as hot as the fires she's fighting and when they are sent on a secret mission together, the flames just burn hotter. Mickey Hamilton is a top notch pilot and loves to firefight, the two combined is his job and he loves it. Throw Robin into the mix and his job and life has just become complicated. He wants forever and she wants no promises. But while on a crucial and dangerous mission in enemy territory, the "what ifs" in their relationship is not so important anymore as staying alive is. And if that can happen then maybe they have a real good shot and a future together...
Robin is one headstrong woman, but I love her. Mickey is a strong man, but in a different way as he bides his time. He is more of a silent type, but shows in actions when the time is right. 4th in the Firehawks series, we meet up with some old friends that I have not seen since the Nightstalkers Series. I love the interactions of old meeting the new. All of the books are stand alone, but for me, they are enriched with the intertwining of past characters. Robin flying in Emily's helicopter gave me a hint of the strength of character that Robin would have in "Flash of Fire". I cannot wait until the next in the series. I recommend "Flash of Fire". 4.5 Stars!
Every time I read a new book by M. L. Buchman, I feel like jumping right into the next one because I don't want to leave the exciting, action-filled world he's built around his characters! Former Army National Guard helicopter pilot Robin Harrow is the newest pilot at Mount Hood Aviation and she's got big shoes to fill. Her predecessor is the most legendary helicopter pilot to have ever flown the skies both inside and outside the service and she's determined to bring her best game to this party, which is what she'll need to take on her new role. However, a little extracurricular activity won't hurt and fellow pilot Mickey Hamilton is just the person to give her what she needs. However, what Robin doesn't know is that MHA is not just a fire-fighting outfit, but is partly a black ops operation that is able to infiltrate even enemy territory under the guise of helping fight fires and she's about to get her first taste of the heat that comes with this job, both literally and figuratively. Robin started out with a major chip on her shoulder but all her experience with the National Guard did not prepare her for MHA, especially not the level at which they were operating and I enjoyed watching her realize that she was chosen because she had what it took to fit in there. Mickey was another surprise for Robin and after growing up with the belief that she was destined to remain single, it would take some mental gymnastics for her to come to terms with the fact that she could share her life with someone. One thing I love about this author's writing is the fearless and skilled women characters he writes and the fact that he's unapologetic about making them as alpha as can be, and having read a lot of his books I can say that Robin is way up at the top of that list, and Mickey was perfect for her because while he was her match in every other way, his laid-back and fun-loving nature balanced out her more intense and rigid side. They both had to adjust to being in each other's life, but in the end it worked out for them. I'm new to this firefighting series but I love that some characters and familiar things from the Night Stalkers carried over here, especially the black ops that ramp up the tension and the bonds of friendship among women who put their lives on the line and the men who love them. M. L. Buchman has become a favorite of mine and I'll read anything that carries his name, no questions asked. If you love action movies, romantic suspense or a well-researched and written book, meet your new favorite author! Disclaimer: I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Complex and technical as usual. I didn't care for Robin and thought Mickey was way too nice for her. Mr. Buchman has an annoying habit in all of his books of over using the word hammer/hammered. It's distracting. He's also joined the ranks of so many other authors that think more sex sells books. Great plot and plenty of action.
: FLASH OF FIRE is the seventh full length installment in M.L.Buchman’s adult, contemporary FIREHAWKS action, romantic suspense series focusing on an elite group of fire fighting experts-helicopter pilots, fighters, and jumpers from Mount Hood Aviation. The Firehawks series is a spin-off from M.L. Buchman’s Night Stalker military/romance/suspense series. Several characters cross over throughout the series but each book can be read as a stand alone without too much difficulty. Any important information from previous storylines is imparted where necessary. This is helicopter pilots Robin Harris, and Mickey Hamilton’s story. Told from dual third person perspectives (Robin and Mickey) FLASH OF FIRE follows new Firehawk recruit Robin Harrrow-a former Army National Guard helicopter pilot –as she is thrown head first into her first fire fight near Dawson City, Alaska where she will discover that only the best of the best are chosen for the job, and she is among the chosen few. With a personal recommendation from the top, Robin will take control of the mission ensuring everyone comes home alive. Enter Mickey Hamilton, the man who would steal Robin’s heart, but a man that will come up against some heat of his own. FLASH OF FIRE follows the Firehawk team as they struggle with the wildfires of Alaska, and then a chosen few are secreted away to a special mission overseas where Robin and Mickey are once again, partnered in a rescue operation that involves more than fighting fires. The world building continues to focus on the men and women from Mount Hood Aviation: their job; their friendships; and their relationships with one another. FLASH OF FIRE has a large ensemble cast of secondary and supporting characters from many of the previous story lines and series, making for an intimate and familiar feel to the story. As in all of M.L.Buchman’s story lines there is a copious amount of technical detail and terminology including an up close and personal view of whitewater rafting 101. FLASH OF FIRE focuses on the danger and life-threatening job of the elite fire fighting crews of the Mount Hood Aviation Firehawks. There are moments of darkness and danger, romance and love, action and suspense; and lighthearted humor at the hero’s expense-Mickey is a man who has fallen for a woman who isn’t about to settle down with any man. The premise is engaging and inspiring; the characters are heartwarming and passionate. FLASH OF FIRE is an action-packed story that shares an intimate look at the ‘super heroes’ in real life.
Spotlight Tour: Review, Guest Post & Giveaway: Flash of Fire (Firehawks Series) by M.L. Buchman http://wp.me/p3d0RZ-4We Publication Date: May 3, 2016 Genre: Romantic Suspense Reviewed by: Reading in Pajamas/ Donna Rated 4.5 Stars REVIEW: I liked Robin from the start. She was talented and badass but you could still relate to her. I especially loved her realistic reactions to being the new girl in the group. The author writes all the characters and how they interact in a fun way that makes you believe they have faced the ongoing dangers of firefighting together for a long time. There is a lot of technical information about fighting fires and the aircraft used but it did not detract from the lovely romance. Mickey is every girls dream, not only in sexiness but in how he lets Robin be Robin. This is another exciting installment in the Firehawks series and I loved it. *Review copy provided by Sourcebooks in exchange for an honest review.
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