Book Title: Feel The Heat, Rockford Fire Department Series
Author: Kathryn Shay
Release Date: May 31, 2016
Hosted by: Book Enthusiast Promotions
She saves him from a fire, then steals his heart without even trying. When white hot attraction kicks in, sparks fly!
Francey Cordaro is a dedicated firefighter, devoted daughter and a loyal friend who has made her way in a man’s world. She rejects material goods, doesn’t give a whit about her striking looks and focuses on saving lives, spending time with her family and friends, working out and playing poker with the guys.
Until she meets Alex Templeton.
A wealthy businessman, Alex is the epitome of success in every area of his life. A decent man, he returns home to run the family company when his father takes ill and his brother loses his way. What he can’t control is his reaction to the sexy firefighter who dragged him from near death. She’s gorgeous, fun-loving and challenges him at every turn. But she refuses a relationship with him.
With differences that rival champagne vs. beer, uptown galas vs. karaoke bars, and the world of high finance vs. the reality of walking into burning buildings, their relationship seems doomed. Or is it?
With a secondary reunion romance as fiery as Alex and Francey’s, and cameo appearances of readers’ favorite firefighters from Hidden Cove, as well as Shay’s trademark tense and exciting rescue scenes, this book will pull on your heartstrings and make you route for these very likable characters.
Be sure to read the rest of the Rockford Fire Department: RISKING IT ALL, CODE OF HONOR and NEVER FAR AWAY, as well as all of the Hidden Cove Firefighters series.
*** NEW YORK TIMES bestselling author Kathryn Shay spent five years riding fire trucks with a large city fire department, eating in their firehouses and interviewing hundreds of America’s Bravest.
Praise for FEEL THE HEAT:
“Ms. Shay’s romance features richly drawn characters in a fresh role reversals, solid friction and sensual fire.” RT Book Reviews, Top Pick
“All the characters are so real, as are the descriptions of firefighting. The way these individuals deal with their lives and loves makes for fascinating reading.” Old Book Barn Gazette
“I made the mistake of starting this while out of town on business that kept me from reading most of the day. I advise you to make sure you have uninterrupted reading time when you pick this up. Fascinating.” All About Romance
“The characterization of Alex and Francey could be described as exquisite. I know I’ll put FEEL THE HEAT on my shelf and pull it out in six months when I want a good re-read.” The Romance Reader
The siren wailed and the horn blared as Quint Twelve, one of Rockford Fire Department’s state-of-the-art trucks, tore into the Templeton warehouse parking lot. The other rig in the house, the Midi, which carried medical equipment, rolled behind them. Francey Cordaro felt a jolt of adrenaline when they hit the fire ground, and her heartbeat quickened at the sight of the thick black smoke billowing from the building. The trucks squealed to a halt, and the crew catapulted out of the cab. They were second in, as another firehouse had beaten them to the scene.
While the captain sprinted to Incident Command for instructions from the battalion chief, the rest of themhefted hoses out of the Quint’s bed, removed the pry tools and twisted the heavy steel valves to open the vehicle’s water tanks.
“Hell of a way to start your thirtieth birthday, France,” Roncowsky, the rookie, said as he yanked on a line.
“You got that right, kid.”
Captain Knight strode back to them like a general ready to mobilize his troops. His radio pulsed as much static as orders from the chief. “Engine Sixteen’s ventilating the roof on the east side. They got two hoses in the front door. They figured the place was empty this time of night, but after they went in, a passerby told the battalion chief there might be somebody inside. Seems his car wasn’t spotted till just now. We’re going in the west side. There’s a wrought-iron staircase on the outside wall leading up to the office level.”
“Tough luck,” Dylan O’Roarke, her good friend, and excellent firefighter commented on the news that a victim was in the burning building.
The cap faced Francey. “Cordaro, make the forced entry up there. Office is to the left about twenty feet—we’ll look for the guy in there first. I’ll bring in the thermal imaging camera.” He flicked a glance at Dylan. “O’Roarke, take a hose in with her. Roncowsky andDuke, other members of the group who were on the second truck, will follow with a second line.” One driver would stay with the rigs and oversee water delivery.
Francey grabbed the pry tool, raced to the warehouse and bolted up the wrought-iron stairs, the men hauling the lines behind her. She reached the entrance in seconds and sprang the lock on the heavy steel door. Captain Knight barked their position into the radio, then all four firefighters donned their breathing masks and switched on their air flow. Francey shoved an ax-like halligan into her pocket in case it was needed inside and took her place on the tip of the hose. With Dylan behind her and Robbie in back of the captain on the other side, they entered the burning building.
A thick blanket of black smoke enveloped them. It was like being blindfolded, but the thermal camera would help the captain detect any bodies with different heat signatures from the ambient temperature around them. “Go down the west hall. I see something in a room.”
Crouching low, they inched along the wall. Franceygroped the floor in front of her. She and Dylan pulled the charged hose down the wide hallway while the rookie and Duke mirrored their actions on the other side. The sound of water slapping on the fire below them indicated Engine Sixteen must have found the seat of the blaze.
About twenty feet into the warehouse, sweat trickling down her shirt, Francey heardKnight’s command into the radio. “In the room on the left, Cordaro.”
She felt the outline of a closed door. She let Dylan take the hose, stood, threw off her glove and tested the door with the back of her hand. Not too hot. She twisted the knob. It opened, but only partway.
Reaching around, she found abody slumped on the floor just inside the smoke-filled room, partly blocking theirentrance. She eased herself inside and squinted to make out his form.
She managed to get him upright and dug her hands under his armpits. God, he was heavy. Over two hundred, she guessed. Slowly, she drew him back, the other guys opened the door then she dragged him into the hall. Duke got the legs of the victim. The smoke still a thick curtain, she walked backward behind the others who retraced their steps to the outside staircase. Dylan led the way with the hose. When they reached the exit, Francey stepped onto the landing backward and edged around to take the stairs.
Still unconscious, the man jerked spasmodically. The movement threw Francey off balance. Let go of him! she thought wildly. You’re going to fall. She did, and momentum took her down the steps. Her left arm banged on the railing, and pain splintered through her.
Her head hit something hard—and the world went black.
Every muscle in her body hurt—much like it did after a grueling session with weights. Francey willed the pain away and tried to open her eyes. Heavy-lidded, they stayed shut. She shifted slightly and moaned.
“She’s awake, Ben,” a familiar voice called from beside her. The captain.
Then a hand stroked her hair, as it had through measles and mumps and her first injury in the fire department. “Francey, honey, it’s me. Dad.”
Finally she was able to slit her eyes. Her fatherhovered over her, his face etched with concern. His dark, just-graying hair was mussed, and his brown eyes were troubled.
“Hi,” she murmured.
Coming up beside Ben, Dylan grinned. “You fell down the steps, klutz. Did you know that fifty thousand people are hospitalized every year because of fire-related injuries?” Though he was considered quite a ladies’ man with his unruly black hair and Irish blue eyes, her friend could be a pain in the butt.
“Spare me the statistics, O’Roarke.” Then her memory returned. A forcible entry into the warehouse. A man on the floor. She’d lost her footing when she reached the wrought-iron staircase. “The victim?”
“He’s fine,” her father told her. “Some smoke inhalation.”
“And a few bruises from being dropped,” Dylan added gleefully.
“Oh, shit.” Francey struggled to sit up. The action sent a bolt of pain through her arm. “What the hell?”
Her father sat on the bed and gently touched the cast that ran from just below her elbow to the middle of her hand. “It’s broken, kiddo.”
Francey closed her eyes and sank into the pillow, vaguely recalling her trip to the hospital and her stint in emergency. Her head began to throb. She used an obscenity she rarely said in front of her father. He gave her a weak grin.
A firefighter like his daughter and one of his sons, Ben Cordaro understood her concern. “You’ll be out at least two months.”
“You will, honey.”
Her older brothers, Nicky and Tony, came up behind their father. Nicky had Ben’s dark good looks; Tony, the older, was fair, with taffy-colored hair.
Sidling in close, Tony bent and kissed her. “Hi, kid. Took a nasty fall, huh?”
Francey nodded at his trademark gentle kindness. “I guess.”
“Tough break, sis.” Nicky chuckled. “Excuse the pun.” She gave him a pained look, like the ones they’d shared as children. “Hey, you can always go to the academy and work with Dad.”
Francey rolled her eyes. Most firefighters dreaded an academy stint because they missed all the action.
“Not this time. The doc said no work for two months, even teaching recruits. You have to heal properly.”
“What are you doing here?” she asked her brother.
“My crew was on at Sixteen’s last night. While you were playing hero with the CEO of Templeton Industries, I was in the basement knocking down the fire.”
Francey frowned. “The CEO of Templeton Industries?”
“Yeah. Alex Templeton was working late at the company warehouse and apparently fell asleep at his desk. When the fire got rolling, he was overcome by the carbon dioxide. You pulled him right out of the jaws of death, sis,” he said with a wiggle of his eyebrows.
“Dylan, Duke and me got him out.”
“That’s right,” Dylan put in. “Just because you’re a battalion chief’s daughter doesn’t mean you get all the credit.”
Male laughterrippled through the room. “Is everybody here?”
Adam Genier, the other rig driver, approached the bed, along with Robbie. “You can always come in and cook for us while you’re off,” Adam teased.
The entire crew groaned. Francey’s lack of culinary skills was well-known in the department.
Francey gazed at the men gathered around the hospital bed—her biological family and her other family, Group One from station house Quint/Midi Twelve. Except for Robbie, their crew had been together for years, and the men were like brothers to her. Right now they were cleaned up and dressed in civilian clothes. But Ed Knight’s face was drawn and looked pale next to his gray hair and Robbie’s youthful complexion was pasty. Adam’s eyes, almost the same hue as his coffee-colored skin, were concerned; the harsh lines of Duke’s rough exterior had softened. And Dylan, though he joked and quoted his infamous firefighter trivia, had creases in his forehead whenever he looked at her.
They were all worried. She smiled in appreciation.
“What time is it?” she asked. “We off?”
“About seven.” This from the captain. “We came here as soon as our shift ended and our relief arrived.”
“You remember the ambulance ride?” Dylan, a paramedic, as well as a firefighter, had accompanied her to the hospital.
“Yeah. You got a great bedside manner, O’Roarke. You kept yelling at me to wake up.”
“He saves his tender side for his women,” Adam joked.
Francey glanced at Robbie. “You did good, kid, for your third fire.”
The redheaded rookie gave her an impish grin. “I did?” No one in the Rockford Fire Department doled out unwarranted praise.
“Jeez, France, I’m sorry you got hurt. Especially on your birthday.”
“The one saving grace is that you guys won’t be able to pull any stupid over-the-hill pranks on me now that I’m in the hospital.” When they were done with their tour today—a full rotation of four days on, three off, four nights on and three days off—they’d planned to go to Pumpers, a firefighters’ hangout, to break out the champagne.
She glanced at Captain Knight. “How’d the fire start? And where?”
“In the basement. We’re not sure how. The alarm was called in by one of the Templetons who was driving by the warehouse. The fire marshals have been there all night. They think maybe…”
The captain’s voice trailed off as someone came through the door to Francey’s room. She couldn’t see around the guys, but tension rose in the air quicker than heated mercury.
Her crew eased away from the bed. Ben, Tony and Nicky stilled. Her dad said, “Diana.”
He only half-turned away from Francey. His face was blank, his voice carefully neutral—a sharp contrast to his warmth only minutes before.
“How is she?” Diana’s tone matched his. Pure coolness.
“See for yourself.”
Ben stepped back, but Nicky blocked her path and glanced dramatically at his watch. “What, the queen’s up before noon?”
“Nick, lay off.” The admonishment came from Tony, who rested a hand on his brother’s shoulder.
Francey couldn’t see her mother yet—Nicky’s muscular frame blocked her view—but she could hear her voice. “Hello, Nicky. Tony.”
“Hi, Mom.” Only Tony’s voice held affection.
And then Diana Cordaro Hathaway stepped into Francey’s line of vision. Slim as always, her carriage regal, Diana wore her fairy-princess blond hair swept back from a face devoid of makeup. Even so, she looked a decade younger than fifty. And light-years away from the rest of the Cordaros. “Francesca.” Her breathiness was pronounced.
Diana cleared her throat. “Are you all right?”
Despite her efforts to remain aloof, her mother’s fearful tone wended its way into Francey’s heart. “I’m fine.”
Impulsively Diana reached out to touch Francey’s cast, but drew back her hand at Francey’s frown. “Does it hurt?”
“They got me pretty doped up. I don’t feel much pain.”
“Are you injured anywhere else?”
“Just this bump on the head.”
After examiningthe injury with the care of a nurse, Diana said, “Well, good.”
From the corner of her eye, Francey saw the members of her firefighting group, including Captain Knight, sneak out and leave the dysfunctional Cordaro family alone. The room got so quiet Francey could hear the muffled sounds of a hospital’s morning routine outside in the hall—the elevator ping, the shrill of a phone, orders being given.
Her father broke the charged atmosphere. “How did you find out about Francey’s accident?”
Diana’s violet eyes, the only thing Francey had inherited from her, flickered with repressed anger. “I heard about the fire on the morning news. I called your mother to see if Francesca or Nicky was involved.” Censure colored Diana’s tone. “You could have phoned me.”
Ben’s face hardened. “I could have.”
“Why?” Nicky edged in front of her dad. “So you could play the loving parent? Just because you moved back here eight months ago doesn’t mean you’re part of our lives.”
Diana’s sharp intake of breath silenced her son’s attack more quickly than an angry retort.
Ben said, “Nicky, go get us some coffee.” When her brother hesitated, her father stared him down, just as he used to do when the Cordaro children were little and balked at going to bed.
With a scathing glance at Diana, Nicky stalked out the door. Tony followed him, stopping to kiss Diana’s cheek on the way out. Her father turned to her mother, and his face softened fractionally. “I should have called you. I’m not used to your being back in Rockford.”
Diana held his gaze unblinkingly.
“I, um, know how much firefighting worries you, Dee.”
Her mother swallowed hard, then turned to Francey. Her eyes brimmed with feeling. “I was hoping to see you today, but not under these circumstances, of course.” Diana drew in a deep breath. “Is there anything I can do for you?”
Francey studied the woman who’d walked out on her husband and children twenty-seven years ago. Every time she saw her mother, she was assailed by conflicting emotions. This morning she was too tired to deal with them. “No, Diana, there’s nothing you can do for me now.”
Experience in Firefighting by Kathryn Shay
Imagine this: it’s six a.m. on a Sunday morning and a call comes over the P.A. system: “Stabbing on Brown Street. Midi 8 go into service.” Two firefighters jump into the little medical truck—with me sandwiched in between them. Off we go with sirens blaring, taking corners like race car drivers. The dispatch coming into the truck warned, “Firefighters are NOT go into the building until the police arrive.” As a wife, mother, teacher and ordinary person, I wondered, “What am I doing here?”
The answer: I was in this situation because I was given permission from the city where I live to ride along with our firefighters to research a series of books. This wasn’t the only exciting run I participated in during the five years I worked with the Rochester Fire Department. There was a snowy night where we raced to a college dorm that was on fire. Though I couldn’t go inside, I watched the guys run in from the freezing weather and carry people back out into it, the puffs of cold air from their breathing creating an unreal cloud around them. There was the time a basement flooded and we went inside to find the people did not speak English. We had to phone the gas company before a rookie could wade in. Once, I went to a training session, where the officers filled a house with mist and tied a dummy down. The guys had to rescue it. A very nice lieutenant took me by the hand and led me inside. I was literally blinded by mist, as they operate all the time, only real smoke surrounds them.
One of my most favorite parts of the research was training with recruits at the fire academy. I crawled through the maze like the rookies did, blindfolded. I went about two feet with mine on and had to pull it off. I posed as their victim in an EMS qualification exercise, where they had to take my pulse, check my respiration and once, save me from bleeding to death. On another occasion, they dressed me up in their gear, let me hold a hose so I could tell the difference between one charged with water vs. one with foam. (They also stood behind to catch me when the recoil hit and I tumbled backwards.) Once, at night, they powered up the HazMat Truck to show me how to test for anthrax. Another time, they took the rig with the Hurst tools, used for car accidents, out of service for an hour so I could learn about the pry tools and generators—I started one—and the hold the Jaws of Life.
In addition to all these exciting experiences, I spent time with the firefighters. Some of them invited me to their houses to talk to their husbands or wives. I interviewed a female firefighter at length and got good insight into what it was like to be a woman in a modern firefighter department. I dined on countless dinners, lunches, and coffees late into the evenings to hear their stories: how they were burned, how they hated to be called heroes, some rescues they would never forget. And, of course, how horrific 9/11 was for them. Firefighters are an affectionate lot—they hug and playfully punch each other. One afternoon, as we all sat at the kitchen table, a guy went around massaging the necks of his colleagues. He got to me and massaged my neck, too. (That was really cool.)
Not only did all of the above allow me to write realistic firefighting scenes, but I also learned how firefighting is a grueling, frightening and adrenaline-pumping experience. The men and women who do it are selfless, intense, quietly heroic with a black sense of humor and a deep sense of integrity. I feel the success of my books is due to my experiences with them and will be forever grateful to firefighters everywhere for the job they do.
A NEW YORK TIMES and USA TODAY bestselling author, Kathryn Shay has been a lifelong writer and teacher. She has written dozens of self-published original romance titles, print books with the Berkley Publishing Group and Harlequin Enterprises and mainstream women’s fiction with Bold Strokes Books. She has won five RT Book Reviews awards, four Golden Quills, four Holt Medallions, the Bookseller’s Best Award, Foreword Magazine’s Book of the Year and several “Starred Reviews.” Her novels have been serialized in COSMOPOLITAN magazine and featured in USA TODAY, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL and PEOPLE magazine. There are over five million copies of her books in print, along with hundreds of thousands downloaded online. Reviewers have called her work “emotional and heart-wrenching.”