Fireworks by Elaine Coffman

Fireworks by Elaine Coffman
Publisher: Ellora’s Cave
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (80 pgs)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Fern

Susan’s friends drag her to a Montana guest ranch to celebrate her fortieth birthday and take her mind off her woes—her boyfriend has left her for a younger woman and her job is about to dissolve. The birthday fireworks they set off light up more than the night. The resulting brush fire has rancher Wyatt Whittaker burning with temper, but when the flames of anger cool, the city girl and the cowboy consider some fireworks of their own.

It’s Susan Klein’s fortieth birthday, and her three best friends have been given a fortnight’s holiday at a Montana ranch as a special present. The four ladies are expecting to rest, breathe in pure, fresh air and hopefully get an eyeful of some handsome cowboys. Despite the wonderful present, Susan is quite touchy about the “big Four Oh” birthday and her friends enjoy gently teasing her about it. After her birthday dinner the four girls go down the street a little to set off some fire crackers. But things go awry when the fire spreads further than anticipated. A very angry cowboy confronts the ladies, and Susan finds there’s more than one way to play with fire.

This is a wonderfully character-driven story. I really enjoyed how Susan had her best friends with her – they made a strong and interesting secondary cast and added significantly to the storyline. The author also paced the plot quite well. I was easily led from being introduced to Susan and her situation, to the ranch and the cowboy brothers who split the land and work it. While people who want to read a fast-paced go-go-go book might find it slow, I actually enjoyed taking my time. The gradual unfurling of the plot meant instead of being bombarded by a hectic pace I could really relax and savour the characters and the story woven around them. While there’s nothing overly new to the plot it still read as fresh to me – mostly due to the fact I was hooked on Susan, Wyatt and the other characters’ lives and actions. I was a little disappointed with how stubborn Susan could be – and close-minded to the possibilities of a relationship with Wyatt – but have to admit it added a good amount of conflict and tension into the plot and also kept Wyatt honest and on his toes.

Readers wanting a more traditional cowboy-style romance might be a little disappointed. While Andy and Wyatt are genuine cowboys, they’ve mostly embraced the modern age. There’s plenty of horseback riding – but the women also manage to white water raft, rappel and fly fish, giving the feel of the book a bigger feel than simply staying on a dude ranch with dusty cowboys, horses and cows alone. I enjoyed this greater depth to the story, but must admit it did detract from the “dusty, open planed cowboy” feel of the story that I was expecting. I also would have liked a little more details into why Susan felt such an immediate, electrical attraction to Wyatt. As they got to know each other the level of chemistry between them showed clearly just how attracted they both were to each other, but initially I had trouble understanding why, exactly, Susan felt so connected to him when there was nothing more than her physical reaction to go on.

I found this to be a wonderful story, filled with memorable characters and a secondary cast that was three dimensional and interesting. The pace of this book was slow but steady, and the timing of the plot was expertly applied. A few small niggles can be easily overlooked in my opinion and overall this is a brilliant story and full of warm-hearted moments and characters you can really get into. A lovely story.

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