Playing With Fire (Susan May Warren) – Review

5 stars


Publisher’s Description

She can’t forget the man she walked away from . . .
Liza Beaumont knew she was playing with fire when she let smoke jumper Conner Young into her life. Just friends, she promised herself, but she couldn’t help but fall for the tall, blond firefighter who needed her. But loving him got her burned, and she’s not about to risk her heart again.

His one chance to get her back . . .
Conner Young knows he blew his one chance with Liza. His personal losses—and his profession—made him wary of offering any promises he couldn’t be sure he’d live to keep. So he let her walk away, but he never forgot the place she’d held in his heart.

A race to find a missing girl . . .
Until Liza is attacked in the mountains by a rogue grizzly. Her panicked phone call alerts Conner to everything he lost—and still wants. Now, with a teenage girl missing in the woods, and a predator on the loose, Conner and Liza must fight against time and the elements to save her. But when the old friendship ignites into fresh sparks, are they setting themselves up to get burned again? And when disaster happens, will their nightmares pull them apart, or will they find the courage to survive?


Conner’s phone buzzed in his back pocket and he fished it out.
Looked at the caller ID.
And shoot if his heart didn’t nearly take a flying leap out of his body.  “Liza?”
“Oh…Conner.  Conner!
And his world simply stopped, everything coming to a standstill – his heart, his breath, his thoughts.
All except one.
Finally, finally, Liza Beaumont had called him back.  After countless messages, a few letters, and even one moment when someone actually picked up the phone and listened in silence.
He felt pretty sure that had been her on the other end of the line.
And while he’d tried, for at least the last six months, to shove her into the dark, hopefully forgotten places in his heart…
Oh, Thank You, she’d finally called him back.
And he knew how pitiful he sounded when he said, “I’m so glad you called.”
Then he heard her breath, hiccupping over the line, as if she might be…crying?
And that put a different spin on the call.  “Liza- where, what- are you okay?”
“Oh…Yeah, no…I don’t know.  I didn’t know who else to call.”
So, she’d called him.  He tried not to sing a song of hallelujah, but if she were dating anyone else, then certainly he would be on her speed dial.
“You can call me anytime-”
And yes, that sounded even more pitiful, but-
“Are you still in Ember?”
“Not out on a fire?”
“No- I’m in town,” Conner said.  He had a crazy urge to look around, wondering if he might suddenly see her- what, running through the herd of buffalo?
Wild, crazy hopes, taking him by the throat.
But what was he supposed to do with the relief, the, “Oh, thank you, God,” on the other end of the line?
His thoughts exactly.
“I think I outran it, but- I’m…”
And now an inhale of quick breath, her voice low, nearly unintelligible.
Outran?  The word wrapped a fist around his chest.  “Liza, are you in danger?”
“Yes- No- I-”
He couldn’t help it.  “Breathe, baby.  Just breathe.”  He simply would ignore the impulsive term of endearment.
“I- there’s a…grizzly.”
Conner froze.


My review
Fresh out of adrenaline?  Don’t worry.  Read this book and your cup will runneth over!  I could feel my pulse pounding in every square inch of my body for more than half of this novel, and I’m still not sure whether the romance or the search and rescue should take the greater part of the blame!  Needless to say, Susan May Warren has turned out a fabulous second instalment in her Montana Fire series.  In fact, I enjoyed this one even more than the first.

While the prologue hooks us firmly into the main story, the opening chapters take us back three years ago to Deep Haven and the fire that sweeps through in Take a Chance on Me, the first novel in Susan May Warren’s Christianson Family series.  Over the course of the first few chapters, we are able to see how Conner and Liza’s friendship developed, and from the beginning I could feel the depth of the emotional connection between them, going way beyond simple physical attraction.

These two are a little less fiery (if you’ll pardon the pun) than Jed and Kate from the first book in the series, and I identified more with the quiet intensity of Conner’s and Liza’s personalities as they tried to keep their friendship within the boundaries they had set for themselves; because when it comes down to it, Conner refuses to make any promises when it obvious he has no control over what might happen to him in the future.  And Liza refuses to give her heart to someone who won’t promise any tomorrows.  But that romantic tension – mm, mm!  Loved it!

In contrast to the first few chapters, the rest of the book is an intense 48 or so hours as Liza, Conner, and a small crew of searchers try to find Shep and Esther – two teens who have gone missing from Camp Blue Sky.  Oh yeah – and the Feds are after Conner for questioning because some arson specialists are claiming the drones he has been working on have been causing fires in the area.  But when Conner receives the phone call from a frantic Liza there’s no question who tops his list of priorities!

The search and rescue part of the novel was totally gripping, and responsible for the majority of my pulse pounding.  Precarious drops, a raging river, and the ever-present threat of that prowling grizzly, and yet Liza and Conner were also able to confront and work through the issues surrounding their relationship breakdown – both personal and spiritual – in a way that felt totally organic to the story.  Wow!  Talk about packing a punch!  And did I mention the romantic tension and the kisses? *fans self*

I particularly liked that both Conner and Liza were strong Christians, but had to look more closely at whether they were truly living out their belief in God’s promises; not necessarily for a happy ending, but that He will work out their future happiness and suffering alike for their good.  How often do we hold back, missing out on God’s blessings because of a fear of what may happen some time in the future?

And yes.  The Feds do eventually catch up with Conner…

*Sigh* This one’s a winner.  On all counts.

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Release date:  5 July 2016
Pages:  236
Publisher:  SDG Publishing
Author’s website:

Read my review for Where There’s Smoke.

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About Fiction Aficionado

Homeschooling mum, word lover, reader extraordinaire, and follower of Christ
This entry was posted in Book Reviews, Contemporary Romance, New Releases, Romance, Romantic Suspense and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Playing With Fire (Susan May Warren) – Review

  1. Pingback: Burnin’ For You (Susan May Warren) – Review | Fiction Aficionado

  2. Pingback: Best of 2016! | Fiction Aficionado

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