Title: Into the Fire
Author: Anne Stuart
Copyright: 2003 (Mira); 378 pgs.
Who: Jamie Kincaid and Dillon Gaynor
Anne Stuart is known for her dark heroes, men that are hard to like, never mind trying to imagine how their heroines fell in love with them. Dillon Gaynor is no exception. He’s gruff, rude, cynical, and angry — among other things. He behaves in an underhanded way toward Jamie, alternately trying to scare her away with his behavior one moment and then in the next, sabotaging his own efforts in order to keep her with him a little longer. He’s a man who’s been in love with the same woman for half his life, yet won’t even admit that to himself let alone say it her. Throughout the book, the author gives the readers clues as to how much Jamie means to Dillon. She also shows us that the otherwise hard man is also capable of being gentle, tender even.
Into the Fire is not a light, romantic love story. I liked the book a lot despite this, primarily because of Dillon. He’s very realistic. He’s trying to get on with his life, atoning for his self-destructive youth. He has his business and his good friend, Mouser. He chose to turn his life around, long before Jamie came back into it, which is a nice touch — a departure from all the other bad boy heroes tamed by the heroine.
Twelve years ago, Dillon was the gorgeous bad boy of Marshfield, Rhode Island, the one every school girl fantasized about, including honor student and all-around good girl Jamie. It didn’t matter that he smoked, drank, and was usually up to something illegal. It didn’t matter that he seemed to be oblivious of her presence. It didn’t matter that the Kincaid’s were wealthy and that her mother hated Dillon. None of it stopped Jamie from secretly wishing he was her boyfriend. Her beloved cousin Nate knew about her crush on his best friend and that made it easier for him to convince her to come with them to one of their parties. Before the night was over, Jamie was raped and Dillon was hauled off to jail for nearly beating a man to death with his bare hands.
In the present, Jamie drives to Wisconsin to learn the truth behind Nate’s death. The one person who can provide answers is Dillon, possibly the last person to see Nate alive. He is also the last person in the world that Jamie wants to see again. But Isobel Kincaid, Jamie’s mother, loved Nate like a son and she wants answers. Showing up unannounced, Jamie hopes he won’t remember the last time they saw each other. She is hoping that he was too drunk and too high to remember the details of that night. Much to Jamie’s annoyance, Dillon remembers all too well, particularly what happened between them before she was raped. It also seems she hasn’t lost her fascination with him. Even in the midst of her protestations to the contrary, she’s attracted to him. It’s Dillon she wants, and probably always will.
But Jamie still clings to the belief that Dillon lead Nate astray and that Nate would never have let anything bad happen to her. In truth, Dillon is positively saintly when compared to Nate, yet Jamie doesn’t trust Dillon. Dillon knows just how twisted Nate was — but there’s no way he can convince Jamie of this. Jamie has been sheltered from the truth all her life. That last bit makes Jamie come across as a weak character. Truthfully, to me, it made her seem more realistic. Jamie has been misled by her family, people she should have been able to trust.
Other reviewers have stated that they did not like the ending. Considering all that Jamie and Dillon have been through, the ending felt right. For the first time in their lives, they are truly free from manipulative influences and have the opportunity to find out if they can make it work and have a truly lasting, loving relationship. To me, the ending seemed hopeful, and I was actually moved by it.
Started: 21 April 2009
Finished: 25 April 2009
This is a re-post, due to technical difficulties. Comments, if any, were lost. I apologize for the inconvenience. (Aug 09)
This is a re-post, due to data loss. (Oct 09)