Title: Kiss of Fire
Author: Judy Kentrus
Genre: Contemporary Romantic Suspense
Lidia Cunningham has no memory of the first six years of her life. Her adoptive parents provided a loving home, but hadn’t been forthcoming on information about her past. As a well-respected fire marshal, she’s made a personal commitment to investigate the cause of a fire and bring the ones responsible to justice. When Blackwell Industries has unexplained fires, she discovers the remains of a body that, by all rights, should have been undetectable.
This case is like no other and hits too close to home. Eleven years ago, she had an affair with the President of Blackwell Industries. It was one of the biggest mistakes of her life, but she was given the greatest gift, her son, Spencer.
In retaliation to her bringing the arsonist to trial, someone burns down her house and she receives threats against her child. Her boss offers to put her up in a safe house, but she firmly rejects his offer. On the run in a travel trailer with Spencer, and Albert Einstein, their wired-hair terrier, she is constantly looking over her shoulder. Kane Wallace is a US Park Ranger with a daunting past. The guilt over the loss of his friends has influenced the way he’s lived his life the past fourteen years. While on medical leave, he agrees to do a favor for his uncle, who just happens to be Lidia Cunningham’s boss. He’s not to tell her who he is because she’s strong willed and will bolt if she knows someone is “watching” over her and Spencer.
The wall Kane has built to keep love out of his life starts to crumble when he gets personally involved with his charges. He soon recognizes she could be the one who would accept his scars and troubled heart. He’s torn between telling her who he is and protecting them from the men who have been following her every move. Once she finds out who he is, she’ll surely hate him for his deception.
A page-turning romantic suspense that will make you laugh, cry and fall in love.
Kane turned the galvanized faucet on the spigot so the water could flow into the hose attached to his trailer.
“Mister, do you know how to build a proper campfire?”
He quickly turned to see a young boy with rust-colored hair that brushed the frames of glasses that were too large for his small face. Protruding from the breast pocket of the kid’s hunter green shirt were two yellow pencils and a small writing pad. There wasn’t a speck of dirt on his jeans, and his sneakers were clean and neatly tied. Beside him was a brown, white and black dog that kept tugging on the leash.
“Yes, I know how to make a campfire.”
Kane moved a short distance to the trailer to make sure the water hose was securely connected. “Where are your parents?”
“My mom is in the next trailer over. We’re traveling the country to broaden my horizons.”
Jeez, the kid talks like a stuffy adult. “Broaden your horizons? How old are you?”
“Nine and a half.”
“Why are you wearing that brace?” the kid asked.
“I tore a tendon in my wrist.”
“Jeez, do all kids ask this many questions?”
“My mom said there is nothing wrong with asking questions, because that’s how we learn.”
“I was in a motorcycle accident.” That was the furthest thing from the truth and quickly changed the subject. “What kind of dog is that?”
The boy’s slender back stiffened, and he proudly announced, “Albert Einstein is a wire-hair terrier. The breed was developed in England by fox-hunting enthusiasts.”
This kid presented himself like a college professor. “How old did you say you were?”
“I’ll be ten on Halloween. Did you know Halloween began as the festival of Samhain? It’s part of the ancient Celtic religion in Britain.
“You sound like a walking encyclopedia. Are you supposed to be talking to strangers?” Kane didn’t know what to make of the kid’s action when he held out his hand in introduction.
“Spencer Blackwell Cunningham.”
Kane had no choice but to accept the small hand offered in friendship.
“Now we’re properly introduced, so we’re no longer strangers. What’s your name, sir?”
Both of them jerked to attention when a panic-filled female yelled, “Spencer! Einstein!”
“That’s my mom. When she calls the dog Einstein, she means business. Mom, we’re right here,” the boy calmly called out. The dog started barking to confirm they were nearby. Hurried footsteps rounded the front of Kane’s trailer and a woman abruptly stopped in front of her son.
“Spencer!” She gasped before gathering him in her life-protecting arms. “What did I tell you about leaving the trailer?”
“Mom, you’re crushing my face. I can’t breathe.”
“Sorry, sweetheart,” she offered and eased some of the strength in her arms. “You scared me to death.”
“But I had Al. He’s a hunting dog and will protect me from wild predators.”
“It’s not the four-legged predators I’m concerned about. I also told you not to talk to strangers.”
“But, Mom, this gentleman is not a stranger. This is Kane Wallace. We were discussing how to build a proper campfire. He’s incapacitated due to a motorcycle injury. You should invite him to dinner.”
“I don’t know of any kid his age that speaks so formally or is so spotlessly clean. You must be Mrs. Blackwell-Cunningham.”
“Lidia, and it’s just Cunningham. I’m sorry if Spencer and Al disturbed you. Come on, Spencer. I’m sure Mr. Wallace has things to do since he just pulled in.”
“But what about inviting him to dinner?”
Kane refused before causing the woman further embarrassment. “Thanks, Spencer, maybe another time.”
“Will you be here tomorrow?”
“I’ll be here for a few days.”
“That’s good. We can continue our conversation about the proper way to build a campfire.”
“Spencer, making your mom worry about where you are is totally unacceptable. Get your mom’s permission before you come over.”
Setting ground rules for the kid was overstepping his bounds, but the warning must have met with his mother’s approval, because she gave Kane a small smile.
“Sounds like you have parental experience.”
“No, just nieces and nephews who try their parents’ patience.”
“It was nice meeting you, Mr. Wallace.”
He sat at the table and checked the messages on his cell phone while he nursed his beer. Only one required a call back and returned his Uncle Frank’s call.
“I was wondering when you were going to call me back. Did you locate her and the boy?”
“I’m parked right next to them. You’re lucky I’m on medical leave and I can do this for my favorite uncle. How come you didn’t tell me she was so damn attractive—no, more like gorgeous. And Spencer is a walking encyclopedia.”
“Keep your fly zipped. She’s got enough trouble and doesn’t need you sniffing after her like a dog in heat.”
“Jeez, give me some credit. I’m a US park ranger, not a pervert.”
“She’s the best damn fire marshal I’ve ever worked with, but she got a raw deal from the kid’s father. Lidia was unaware he was married.”
“I briefly researched the recent fires she investigated,” Kane said. “The guy accused of setting the fires has a long history of arson, but he’d never killed anyone before. Do you think she wasn’t meant to find the body?”
“That’s my take, but they don’t know how good she is at doing her job. We’re still trying to determine the identity of the body. Someone powerful is after her. A couple days after the trial, someone torched her house. Lidia and I agree there’s more to this case.”
“Just a few minutes in her company and I could tell she’s running scared.”
Kane needed to step up his game to keep them safe.
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If money were no object and we weren’t in a pandemic, where would you go for a Spring Break vacation and why?
I would like to visit Mount Rainier in Washington State. It’s one of the six states in the US, I’ve not traveled to.
Why is your featured book a must-read this spring?
It’s time to start exploring the country. In Kiss of Fire, I take you to three places you’ll love to visit. Gateway Arch National Park in St. Louis Missouri and the St. Louis Cardinals stadium. From there it’s onto the Louisville Slugger Factory in Louisville, Kentucky. Last stop is the Rhododendron Festival in Roan Mountain, Tennessee.
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Judy Kentrus, Contemporary Romance, Romantic Suspense, Seasoned Romance,
I’ve always been a romantic at heart and married my high school sweetheart. I make my home in the Poconos of Pennsylvania. After raising our two children, I followed my dream to publish my books. I love to travel and include some of the places I’ve visited in my books. When I’m not at my computer giving couples their happily-ever-after, you can find me in the kitchen, baking, especially cookies. I’ve been dubbed the cookie queen by my family and friends. My stories are fun, sexy, romances that will make you laugh, cry and fall in love.
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