Falls Like Lightning, by Shawn Grady (Bethany House, 2010)
Falls Like Lightning opens with smokejumper Silas Kent and his team parachuting into the path of a forest fire to save an injured man. We follow Silas for a few chapters and leave him in an even more dangerous position. The focus shifts to introduce Elle Westmore, who pilots one of the smokejumper planes. As if Elle didn’t have enough struggles as a single mom, her young daughter, Madison, is subject to unexplained seizures.
The novel’s opening chapters do a great job of bringing these characters to life and into our hearts. Silas and Elle haven’t seen each other since he ran out on their relationship seven years ago. Now a massive forest fire in California throws them back together.
The danger and romantic tension would be enough to make this a good read, but it gets better: One jump team is after a cache of gold in the fire’s path—and the flames will destroy evidence of any “accidental” deaths if anyone tries to cross them.
Author Shawn Grady gives readers an insider’s look at this specialized form of fire-fighting. Details of equipment and terminology arise naturally as events unfold, sparing us the dreaded “information dump” or the confusion of too much information. I could really imagine myself in the scene.
Like action novels? This one’s for you. Like emotional tension? It’s for you, too. Not only do Silas and Elle have unresolved baggage from their past relationship, they each have their individual issues they’re working through.
I enjoyed Falls Like Lightning, and the characters kept coming back to me when life interrupted my reading. You can read the opening chapter (scroll down that page) and a brief interview with the author.
Shawn Grady has served for more than a decade as a firefighter and paramedic in Reno, NV, where he lives with his wife and three children. Named the “Most Promising Writer” at the 2008 Mt. Hermon Writers Conference, he is the author of Through the Fire, Tomorrow We Die, and Falls Like Lightning. Visit his website at shawngradybooks.com.