Title: Conquer the Flames (Lang Downs #4)
Author Name & Publisher: Ariel Tachna (Dreamspinner Press)
Publication Date & Length: September 27, 2013 – 254 pgs
Thorne Lachlan knows a thing or two about getting himself safely out of a blaze. For years he fought in the world’s hot spots, a Commando with the Australian Army. Now, retired, he fights flames for the Royal Fire Service. When a grassfire brings him to Lang Downs, the next sheep station in danger, Thorne meets Ian Duncan and sparks fly that neither man can put out. But both men have ghosts from the past that stand in the way of moving beyond mutual attraction.
While Thorne longs for the home he could share with Ian at Lang Downs, he fears his own instability might make him a danger to others. And Ian’s always believed that the foster care nightmare he escaped before coming to Lang Downs would make any relationship impossible. Trust doesn’t come easily to Thorne or Ian until the fire’s aftermath forces them to see past the scars keeping them both from healing.
This is the most exciting story in the series, with the men at Lang Downs working with the fire service to stop a bush fire from destroying Lang Downs.
The story focuses on Thorne, a volunteer firefighter just out of the army who is struggling with PTSD. It is also – finally – the story of Ian, the reclusive buckaroo still coming to terms with a brutal, abusive childhood.
For the first time, even Caine and Macklin worry that the sanctuary of Lang Downs may not be enough to help Thorne and Ian heal. Both men need professional help, but with a fire threatening the entire station, the station has to come first.
This is the darkest story in the series. There is little humour here. The community is frightened and Ian and Thorne have to deal with some pretty disturbing things before they can start a relationship. Tachna doesn’t shy away from the realities of sexual abuse or PTSD – nor does she avoid the harsh realities of life on an isolated sheep station.
I loved both the men in this story – but I also fell even more in love with the whole Lang Downs community as they faced down the fire together with gritty determination. We see familiar characters and new characters risking their lives to save a community that has become a very special safe harbour for so many people.
This is one of my favourite series. I found this book more disturbing and difficult than the others in the series, but it is also the book where all the characters fully realise just how special their Lang Downs community is – and how much they are willing to risk to save the station.
Ariel Tachna lives outside of Houston with her husband, her daughter and son, and their cat. Before moving there, she traveled all over the world, having fallen in love with both France, where she found her husband, and India, where she dreams of retiring some day. She’s bilingual with snippets of four other languages to her credit, and is as in love with languages as she is with writing.