Title: Walking Through Fire
Author: C. J. Bahr
Genre: Romance / Fantasy / Paranormal
The first in a paranormal romance series, Walking Through Fire sets a tone for adventure, mishap, and spicy romance. This book covers Laurel Saville’s story as she visits northern Scotland on the heels of a messy breakup. Her best friend, Beth, has a bed-and-breakfast there which she shares with her husband, Grant, but Laurel’s never had a chance to visit until now.
But her arrival is a bit untimely. She’s come during the Primrose Festival, which is when Simon MacKay’s ghost supposedly returns to her very room. Some say he comes looking for Jacobite gold, the very gold he’d killed his father over, while others claim he doesn’t exist.
But Simon is very real, though not quite human. After saving Laurel from falling off a cliff, he disappears, determined to focus on finding the relic his family had sworn to protect. His father and he were both killed over it, and he’s remained in limbo ever since. Now, he’s determined to relocate the relic to a new hiding place so he can rest in peace at last.
But Alex MacKenzie, one of the descendants of the rival clan that caused all the trouble in the first place, is in the area. As an experienced treasure hunter, he’s not in town for the festival, though he welcomes Laurel as a source of help in his historical treasure hunt.
But Simon’s determined to not let him win. He might’ve been murdered, but he’s not incompetent, even if, with Laurel around, he is a bit distracted and feeling more human emotions than he’s enjoyed in a long time.
The plot of this was a delight, with something always happening—from ghost hunters showing up at the bed-and-breakfast to a historical ball. Laurel learns more about Simon and Alex in a believable way, having to explore the internet and local museums, and her sidekick, Beth, is a sweet, inquisitive bundle of energy. The romantic intimacy is fairly intense, though not crude, and Simon’s dialogue seems believable, historically speaking.
However, there were plot discrepancies, like when a critical object goes from one person’s pocket to another’s without a clear hand-off. The world-building seems to rely on readers knowing the “rules” of paranormal, as some things happen without a clear explanation of how the events were possible, and in places, a little more editing polish would help, as homonyms showed up from time to time in the wrong context.
There were also places where the characters could use a little more developing. Some had their flaws, like Beth, but others were flat or far too perfect, like Simon, which detracted from the believability of the romance. But the novel is mostly about Laurel’s love life, and all other plot considerations bowed to that, making sure there was plenty of zest and action, in and out of the bedroom.
Readers who like a good adventure with a spicy romance and a strong, independent woman will enjoy this story. It’s feisty, fast-paced, and a whole lot of fun.
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