Catarina Hale is part of a big Italian family. While boisterous and prone to dramatic fights, they are a tight unit. They also run an Italian pizza parlor in the area where she lives. One day, her life literally goes up in flames. After Reena is attacked at school by Joey Pastorelli and saved by her younger brother, Reena’s father goes to discuss the situation with Joe Pastorelli Snr. Things get heated and they end up shouting at each other in the street. Siricos, the restaurant, is torched by Joe Pastorelli one night and he is soon arrested. As the restaurant burns, the Hales are supported by their friends and family and quickly make plans to rebuild.
Reena uses the event that should have destroyed her youth as a direction in life. As she grows, she heads to University with the plan to become a firefighter/arson detective. At University she meets Josh, a sweet journalism student who is in love with her. He dies in a fire in his apartment, and no one will listen to Reena when she insists he doesn’t smoke – who will listen to the girl josh was determined to impress and might have lied to about smoking?
Years later, Reena is a firefighter. She’s dating another firefighter, but he too is killed by fire – this time in a botched high jacking. Once again, her life is ruined by fire. The next bump in the road comes when Reena dates someone she wouldn’t usually date – a slick city mogul. When he starts to slap her around, she kicks him out of the door, but when his car is set alight it seems like she is the angry girlfriend who did it. She is eventually cleared of charges, but once again, fire is messing around with her.
Reena moves into her own house. Her friends and family are settled and married, and she is the only one who hasn’t made the leap. She doesn’t tell anyone why – that Josh’s death and her subsequent disastrous relationships have scarred her. Her new next-door neighbor is carpenter Bowen Goodnight. He seems slightly crazy when she meets him, and he has to quickly explain his oddness when she threatens to arrest him. He tells her a ridiculous (but true) story how he saw her at a few points in his life, and every time he was awestruck, but she disappeared before he could reach her.
They start seeing each other casually, with Reena’s entire family approving. When Reena starts receiving threatening messages, and buildings are set alight, Reena knows that someone is out to get her. Bo nearly dies a few times, but refuses to go into hiding until everything is sorted, which naturally leads to a few entertaining fights. Who is after Reena and her family? Will Bo and Reena’s relationship survive, or more importantly, will they survive?
Again, Blue Smoke is a book well done by Nora Roberts. She is mostly an entertaining writer, and doesn’t disappoint this time around. I am impressed by Blue Smoke because it really captures the essence of family. The villain is an evil mastermind, and his tricks leave you horrified. You know who he is – it is fairly obvious from the start – but the escalation of his crimes and brutality is shocking. I’ve read the book a few times, and have to say that I’m enjoying it more each time around. Go try it out!