A Note From the Author:
One thing I can never capture sufficiently on the page is the ride that helicopter pilots take in fighting a fire. Why? Because they train endlessly to do it safely.
In my latest novel, Hot Point, I finally struck on the idea of sending a non-firefighter pilot aloft.
Denise has taken Vern on a wild car ride, because she is a crazy-good mechanic who loves her sports car. And she’s kissed him, an impulse experiment that turned out very, very well. But despite being the top mechanic for a helicopter wildland firefighting team, she’s never actually flown to fire. She’s never seen what happens when her precious helicopters are taken into the worst of situations—a wildfire.
She’s about to find out. And maybe, just maybe, Vern is going to get some of his own back for the wild car ride she took him on in her little Fiat Spyder convertible.
“Vern…” She managed to keep the panic out of her voice, mostly.
“We have to keep it from rounding the south end of the ridgeline,” Mark’s voice continued, passing on instructions. “The smokies are atop the ridge, so it’s up to you guys to hold the lower slopes. Lay the retardant from the top down.”
“Roger, boss.” Vern wasn’t panicked, running, arguing…nothing. “And so you know, I’m one mechanic heavy.”
“She suited up and strapped in?”
Vern glanced over at her and nodded for her to respond, as if they were merely cruising down the highway in her car.
She wanted to curse him when he nodded again. “Damn you!” Vern chuckled, to her complete annoyance. See if she’d be kissing him again anytime soon. She rested her hand very lightly on the cyclic control and pulled the microphone switch. It changed her from intercom communication to transmitting over the radio.
“Yes and yes!” she snapped out at Henderson and let go of the switch but left her hand in place.
“Good,” Henderson came back, terribly amused about something. “You might want to hang on anyway.”
“Why? I—” And gravity disappeared. And the horizon along with it. Her hands convulsed on the cyclic and again pressed the radio switch. She heard a scream through her headphones, again that weird girlish sound of shock and surprise.
They stopped dropping and she managed to release the mic switch.
“Oh God!” Her hands were shaking. “Everyone heard that, didn’t they?”
“Everyone with an eardrum left anyway.” Vern’s tone was light enough to nudge her sensibilities loose. “Easy on the controls, Wrench.”
Once she eased off, she could feel the smooth confidence with which Vern maneuvered the cyclic and the five tons of helicopter carrying that same amount again in retardant.
They rolled over almost onto their side in a steep bank and dove down along a ridgeline. Gravity came back during an ear-popping twist. No more than a few hundred feet—four rotors, she corrected herself—beyond her door, flames were roaring aloft, far higher than they were flying.
Vern kept them nose down and began counting down seconds. His voice soothing in her ears.
Which was exactly why he was doing it aloud. She was so thankful that maybe she would kiss him again.
Though not right now.
Title: Hot Point
Author: M.L. Buchman
Series: Firehawks, #3
Pubdate: August 4th, 2015
Pulled apart by past mistakes. Driven by a passion neither could deny.
FROM WILDFIRE TO GUNFIRE
Master mechanic Denise Conroy—with a reputation for being as steel-clad as the aircraft she keeps aloft—shuns useless flyboys who don’t know one end of a wrench from the other.
Firehawk pilot Vern Taylor—known for unstoppable charm and a complete lack of mechanical skills—proves his talent for out-of-the-box thinking with every flight. He’s a survivor and a natural-born heli-aviation firefighter.
When Denise and Vern crash together in the Central American jungle with wildfire on one side and a full-fledged military coup on the other, their newly forged partnership is tested to the max. They have each other, but not even their formidable skills combined can protect Denise and Vern from the conflagration sweeping the jungle…and their hearts.
M. L. Buchman has over 35 novels and an ever-expanding flock of short stories in print. His military romantic suspense books have been named Barnes & Noble and NPR “Top 5 of the year,” Booklist “Top 10 of the Year,” and RT “Top 10 Romantic Suspense of the Year.” In addition to romantic suspense, he also writes contemporaries, thrillers, and fantasy and science fiction.
In among his career as a corporate project manager he has: rebuilt and single-handed a fifty-foot sailboat, both flown and jumped out of airplanes, designed and built two houses, and bicycled solo around the world.
He is now a full-time writer, living on the Oregon Coast with his beloved wife. He is constantly amazed at what you can do with a degree in Geophysics. You may keep up with his writing at www.mlbuchman.com.