A summer at his grandparents' South Dakota ranch is not eleven-year-old Cooper Sullivan's idea of a good time. But things are a bit more bearable now that he's discovered the neighbor girl, Lil Chance, and her homemade batting cage. Each year, with Coop's annual summer visit, their friendship deepens from innocent games to stolen kisses, but there is one shared experience that will forever haunt them: the terrifying discovery of a hiker's body. As the seasons change and the years roll by, Lil remains steadfast to her aspiration of becoming a wildlife biologist and protecting her family land, while Coop struggles with his father's demand that he attend law school and join the family firm. Twelve years after they last walked together hand in hand, fate has brought them back to the Black Hills when the people and things they hold dear need them most. When small pranks and acts of destruction escalate into the heartless killing of Lil's beloved cougar, memories of an unsolved murder in these very hills have Coop springing to action to keep Lil safe. Lil and Coop know the natural dangers that lurk in the wild landscape of the Black Hills. Now they must work together to unearth a killer of twisted and unnatural instincts who has singled them out as prey.
Little else in life is as dangerous as fire jumping. Flying past towering pillars of smoke, parachuting down to the edge of an all-consuming blaze, shoveling and sawing for hours upon hours, days at a time, all to hold the line and push back against the raw power of Mother Nature. But there's also little else as thrilling--at least to Rowan Tripp. The Missoula smoke jumpers are one of the most exclusive firefighting squads in the nation, and the job is in Rowan's blood: her father is a legend in the field. She's been fighting fires since her eighteenth birthday. At this point, returning to the wilds of Montana for the season feels like coming home--even with reminders of the partner she lost last season still lingering in the air. Fortunately, this year's rookie crop is among the strongest ever--and Gulliver Curry's one of the best. He's also a walking contradiction, a hotshot firefighter with a big vocabulary and a winter job at a kids' arcade. He came to Missoula to follow in the footsteps of Lucas "Iron Man" Tripp, yet he's instantly more fascinated by his hero's daughter. Rowan, as a rule, doesn't hook up with other smoke jumpers, but Gull is convinced he can change her mind. And damn if he doesn't make a good case to be an exception to the rule. Everything is thrown off balance, though, when a dark presence lashes out against Rowan, looking to blame someone for last year's tragedy. Rowan knows she can't complicate things with Gull--any distractions in the air or on the ground could be lethal. But if she doesn't find someone she can lean on when the heat gets intense, her life may go down in flames.