Firestorm by Radclyffe (Dr. Lenora Ruth Barot). A review by John Cook

Radclyffe

Thank you again group. I am no longer a lesbian erotic romance virgin. And it was an interesting experience. The storyline fitted the incomplete or unrequited relationship model well with Mallory James as the highly competent wildfire firefighter trainer who encounters a range of potential tempters while living a reasonably complete and satisfying lifestyle in a Montana mountain community. She is nicknamed Ice as she is usually a control freak while her wannabe lover is Jac Russo who just wants Mallory. There are other well-sketched characters including the supportive Sarah and, somewhat more lightly, the nasty male chauvinist Hooker who is also an active spy for Jac’s father, a fundamentalist Republican presidential candidate who has arranged for Jac to disappear to this remote location though demands her return later in the story to dress his public family presence.

I initially played with this story as a gay man and mentally read it as a story between a Mal and a Jack probably looking for similarities to see what differences I could detect. In fact, the writing was good with locations and action well and efficiently presented though I could have swapped some of the training detail for some actual fire-fighting action. There is, however a rescue operation carried out under extreme conditions and there is a wealth of presumably accurate backgrounding information. Apart from the intrusive feminine pronouns, I eventually found it harder to maintain my approach and became more interested in how the writer was placing much more emphasis on the detail of relationships with occasional excursions into more fleshy material (quite hot!). I am afraid that a lot of gay men would be looking for more physical action more often. I don’t think I was being over analytic to detect plenty of double entendres and I think I need a kindly lesbian to assure me that those ‘muffin’ references were not misplaced.

The author is very prolific to the point of having her own extensive publishing business and clearly has sold a lot of material. This is not great literature but very competent. The themes of wildfire fighting and fundamental religious involvement in US politics were well developed and interesting as were the news cycle and use of social media.

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