Rating: 4 stars
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Blue Fire by Z.A. Maxfield. Am I allowed to write one word such as Outstanding? Can I just say something like: Buy it—NOW!? NO? I need to tell you more, don’t I? I thought so.
It wasn’t that this was a long, involved novel and some will probably feel it was a bit rushed…I can see that—the ending did pull away very fast and yet…I was okay with that. I could buy into the quick turn around because the entire novella was written in just that way—as if we were looking in various windows at this relationship.
It wasn’t that Blue Fire was this close look at the life of a fireman and the worries over being outed at the station—we have seen that plotline oh so often. Instead it was the idea that quite possibly fireman love fire—and hate it—are attracted to it—almost craving it, and yet despise its destructive properties. No, the real beauty of Blue Fire was that it was barely a story. Rather it was the most intense character driven decision to love that I have read in a long time. By the last page I was wrung out, every moment of this story had me tearing along and scrambling to turn the page. I needed to see these two men together and when that came into doubt, I held my breath and hoped against all hope that there would be a happy ever after. I am happy to say that author Z.A. Maxfield did not disappoint.
With his house, the last legacy of his former lover burning around him, Jared Kenny is rescued by Adam Collins, the first fireman on the scene. Jared is a wreck—not just over the loss of the house but of landing in a place where he questions who he is and what he has turned into over the course of a long-term relationship that saw him remain stagnant as his closeted lover’s “boy” and not an equal partner. The story now begins its skipping pattern, again using another “window” to show us the path these two men took to become enmeshed in each other’s lives. Three months later, Adam goes for his visit to the high priced sanitarium that Jared is living in and tells him he wants to take him away to his family’s cabin. In an almost docile manner, Jared agrees and the two set out for the mountains and a time of discovery about just how much they have come to like each other.
But Jared is continually reminded that Adam seems to be just like his deceased lover, Keith, and also wants to take care of Jared, possibly once again relegating him to the status of a “boy” who cannot choose to live his life the way he so desperately needs to do. Of course it is his fear that rules Jared’s thoughts, and Adam does not stand a chance. Called away by a huge fire, Adam must leave Jared and takes with him the knowledge that he may never see him again.
The strength of his novella is the precise and in depth characterization that propels a shell of a story. It is the interactions between Jared and Adam that make this story so excellent. There is no overwhelming plot here, rather there are breathless and emotional encounters, one after another, that make these two men so very real and their emotions so palpable. This is classic Z.A. Maxfield. She takes a simple story and infuses it with passionate three-dimensional men that create sparks every time they are on the page.
Blue Fire focuses on the place inside each of us that burns and makes us the passionate people we are. Fans of this author will be delighted by this first rate novella.