Blue Smoke by Nora Roberts
Reena Hale learned to love and respect fire when she was 11 years old. Someone had set her family’s pizzeria on fire. It was her inadvertent wakefulness that had her sitting on her front steps when she noticed the fire and was able to get help before the whole business was gone. That night she determined that she would become a fire inspector and arson investigator.
Now, 20 years later, Reena is a cop for the Baltimore City Police Department and working in the Arson Investigation Unit. She is observant, methodical in her work, and excellent in her job. All her education and professional life was focused on this goal. She loves her work.
Reena grows up in a close knit, boisterous Italian family. Her parents took over the restaurant from her grandparents. Her two sisters and one brother stay in Baltimore when they are grown, and only one of those moves out of the Little Italy neighborhood. When Reena is ready to buy a house, she buys one within blocks of her parents and the pizzeria.
Bo Goodnight first sees Reena when they are both at a crowded college party. By the time he works his way over to where she had been, she has disappeared. Over the next decade he spots her a few more times, yet is unable to actually contact her. He is a carpenter by trade. He and a partner also buy and rehab old homes. He is living in and working on one in Little Italy when his Dream Girl comes walking out of the back entrance next door. He is struck dumb and grins like a fool. If first impressions mean anything, Bo is in trouble.
Someone in Reena’s past holds a grudge against her. Without her knowledge, he has manipulated events in her life. Now, though, it is time to announce himself. So he does what he’s best at – he sets fires. That gets her attention. If she doesn’t figure out what is going on, Bo, her friends, her family, and herself could all be injured or killed.
Blue Smoke entranced me. Nora Roberts has included more descriptive violence in this novel than she usually does (excluding the J.D. Robb novels). The reader knows about the antagonist from early on. Reena doesn’t learn about him for 13 years. She is a strong character and has a stable loving, protective family. Bo’s character is not developed as well, but he’s there more for the romantic interest that is part of all of Roberts’ novels. The main story line, in my opinion, is the fire and arson investigation, then the family ties.
Nora Roberts turns out at least four or five new books a year, and it’s difficult to keep up the quality of writing I’ve learned to expect from her. Blue Smoke keeps the quality of writing. It’s not her normal romance/suspense novel, but edgier. I recommend it.
Notice: Non-graphic violence; Strong indecent language; Strong sexual content