Author: Marnee Blake

Risk the Burn by Marnee Blake

Risk the Burn by Marnee BlakeRisk the Burn by Marnee Blake
Series: The Smokejumpers #3
Published by Lyrical Liason on 27th August 2019
Pages: 168
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A parachute jump gone horribly wrong nearly put an end to Hunter Buchanan’s smokejumper career. But with his body on the mend, the rugged firefighter is ready to get back to Oregon’s Redmond Air Center and his training. Except, while he’s conquered his physical injuries, he hasn’t been able to do the same for his panic attacks.

Enter Charlotte Jones, aka Charlie, the trainer who tames his tension like nobody’s business. It doesn’t hurt that she’s easy on the eyes. Or that she stirs a hunger in him to deal with just about anything in order to be the man she needs . . .   After four years of hiding from a violent man in her past, Charlie is ready to face the world again. She knows this has more than a little to do with the potent mix of strength and vulnerability she’s found in Hunter’s arms.

But when a dangerous encounter convinces her the worst isn’t behind her, she’ll have to decide if she’s strong enough to accept Hunter’s help—and his love . . .

That Marnee Blake has used smokejumping as the basis for this series has always intrigued me—well at least, one that goes a step further past the first-responder romance story is still sort of rare.

But if I did venture rather enthusiastically into the first book, ‘Risk The Burn’ turned out to be a middling read for me as Hunter Buchanan and Charlie Jones battle their own demons while falling into each other gradually. Hunter’s interest is Charlie is evident from the start despite the latter being somewhat reserved and coy, though it builds up to a rather tedious climax of Charlie using an old and overused excuse in the book when things start to come to a head: running away under the delusion that it ‘keeps everyone else safe’, then taking offence when she gets called out for it.
My disappointment also stems from the lack of adrenaline-filled scenes that typically comes from the firefighting action itself; instead ‘Risk the Burn’ feels more like a mildish romantic suspense with a red herring dangled in front of us and a twist that didn’t quite leave me gobsmacked.
In short, I didn’t dislike the story but neither did I get an emotional punch out from the pairing that could have been more memorable but wasn’t. Hunter/Charlie simply came, made a few footprints in the dirt tracks and left, without the spikes of burning highs and the dipping lows in their developing relationship which pretty much left me rather indifferent to it all by the end of it.

Crave the Heat by Marnee Blake

Crave the Heat by Marnee BlakeCrave the Heat by Marnee Blake
Series: The Smokejumpers #2
Published by Lyrical Liason on January 15th 2019
Pages: 189
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Smokejumper Dak Parrish has come home to Oregon to fight fires—and to mend fences with his family. He left the Warm Springs Tribal Reservation after feuding with his father. Now, with tribal lands threatened by an arsonist, Dak gets a chance to make amends by acting as a liaison between the reservation and the forest service criminal investigator—a woman who sparks a surprising and hungry flame in him.

After a trauma on the east coast, Heidi Sinclair left DC to start fresh as a criminal investigator in Oregon. But her first serious investigation provides one stubborn obstacle after another—including an arrogant firefighter she suspects knows more than he's saying. Though she tries to battle her attraction to Dak, it’s too late. As they track down the arsonist, someone will do whatever it takes to keep old secrets buried, even if it turns everything Heidi and Dak have fought for to ashes...

I do like Marnee Blake’s ‘The Smokejumpers’  series – a series of elite firefighters is one that’s hard to resist after all. ‘Crave the Heat’ is Dak Parrish’s story, whose convoluted family history plays a prominent role in the latest case of arson that brings his path into a spectacular collision with forest service criminal investigator Heidi Sinclair.

The lines of battle were clearly demarcated here at least: Dak’s loyalties were torn between his family and his own need to work the right side of the law with Heidi, though it became clear that the plot was always going to lead to a point where these ties frayed and broke.

The attraction was fast and furious between Dak and Heidi, though I struggled to believe their near-instant connection at times, particularly when Heidi’s mixed signals bleeped strong despite the smidgen of self-awareness she had. Her constant pushing away Dak did get annoying after a while as she projected her own traumatic past and fears – rather unfairly – onto everything Dak said or did. In turn, the poor guy doubted himself more and more and frankly, I thought, deserved better all the times she cut and ran.

Blake’s insertion of some suspense drove the story forward nonetheless, even if the few twists in the story left me a bit nonplussed and more so, with a resolution that felt a little less than complete.  Still, the writing, like in all of Blake’s books, is straightforward and steady, and makes it all go down quite nicely for a few hours of escapism.


Tempt the Flames by Marnee Blake

Tempt the Flames by Marnee BlakeTempt the Flames by Marnee Blake
Series: The Smokejumpers #1
Published by Lyrical Liason on September 11th 2018
Pages: 197
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Someone is bound to get burned…

Meg Buchanan is determined to prove she didn’t get the trainer job in Redmond, Oregon’s rookie smokejumper class because of her family’s long history as firefighters—or out of pity. But if teaching one of her own brothers isn’t challenge enough, she’s shocked to see Lance Roberts in the new class of recruits. Once her brother’s best friend, and her first, unrequited crush, he’s also the son of the man responsible for her dad’s death.   Lance is stunned to realize that this confident redhead is the stubborn girl he once dreamed about. There’s no way he can fall for her now. He needs to focus all his attention on his training—and uncover the truth behind the long-ago fire that killed both their fathers. But as the undeniable heat between them threatens to ignite, someone attempts to put an end to Lance’s amateur sleuthing—and his life…

Meg Buchanan and Lance Roberts have always been drawn into each other’s orbits, after being separated for a decade, they’re now reunited as assistant trainer and rookie with tons left unsaid and a good dose of suspense on the side. Throw the dangerous, adrenaline-fuelled world of smokejumping into the mix and that’s pretty much Marnee Blake’s new series in a nutshell, which I’m actually quite excited about.

As an establishing novel, ‘Tempt the Flames’ does a good job of introducing the smokejumper rookies around whom the series would presumably be written. And to jump straight in (pun not intended!) with the second-chance, best friend’s sister forbidden tropes with the weight of tragedy behind them is something that makes for a solid plot with tons to be resolved.

There were parts of the storytelling that seemed to falter, however: bits that dwelled too long in the protagonists’ head which slowed the pace (Meg and Lance, who pretty much spent the majority of the time dancing around each other, then prevaricating about whether they should be together or not), the sudden glut of events and twists happening towards the end that came out of left field before the rushed closure, and the writing of action scenes that didn’t quite get my heart into my throat as I’d hoped.

My quibbles aside, I do think that ‘Tempt the Flames’ is a good start to the series and I’m still eager to see how it all shapes out .


Absolved by Marnee Blake

Absolved by Marnee BlakeAbsolved by Marnee Blake
Series: Altered #3
Published by Entangled Publishing, LLC: Embrace on December 11th 2017
Pages: 174
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Since a brain-altering drug killed most of Luke Kincaid’s town—including his father—and left him telekinetic, he’s determined to stop the fanatic who stole the drug to create his own super-powered army. That means working with scientist Dr. Beth Jenkins, whose graphic tees and beautiful smile are some of Luke’s biggest distractions.

A science prodigy, Beth works with the FBI and solves the toughest crimes, but she can’t figure out what caused her mother’s early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. The drug that ravaged Luke’s town is volatile, and the mortality rate is still high, yet Beth is convinced it holds the key to saving her mother, even if sexy and tortured Luke doesn’t believe it should be adapted for commercial use.

When bodies start to pile up, though, the two loners must decide if the goals that tie them together are greater the fears that would tear them apart.

Plunging into ‘Absolved’ felt like being hurled into the deep end of the pond and swallowing mouthfuls of pond water while trying to stay afloat, despite having read the first 2 books of Marnee Blake’s Altered series. The break between books meant that it was difficult to catch up on (and remember) what had happened during an apocalypse-like situation where a drug kills half the population and infuses the other half with telekinetic/mind-reading superpowers.

What I could figure out early on was that there were baddies to fight—bad guys with the notion that the drug responsible for the fall of the human race can help create a new world order—with a ragtag band of people to fight them, as was the growing push-pull tension between a scientist prodigy and a tortured computer guy trying to atone for his misdeeds woven into the whole story.

A prologue perhaps, or some insertion of context would have made ‘Absolved’ a lot easier to get into especially for first time readers; placing the scene or working out the back story out was an exercise in frustration because it was difficult to get to a point where pieces had to fall into place before I could get lost in the narrative without needing to re-read the first 2 books. That said, though it took a while for me to get into it, to sort out the details of what really happened before I could actually sit back and enjoy the story, ‘Absolved’ by and large, took off as soon as I fought my way through the bits that needed time to fall into place.

Clearly then, this isn’t a standalone, and as a YA/NA-type book, the sexual situations never quite went all the way, so to speak (as with all the books in this series) because the romance took a back seat to the rush to make the ruined world right again. Beth and Luke, like all the other pairings in the rest of the series, become the ‘heroes’ when hit by the drug, in contrast to the few who become villains because of it, but it was a pairing I couldn’t exactly get into.

Apart from the conflict that kept both Luke and Beth on opposing sides of the argument for most of the story, I found myself preferring ‘old’ Beth more before she was hit by the drug somehow—the problematic definition of what it meant to be heroic came into play for me here, though it’s probably nitpicking on my part or my rooting for the underdog—and was vaguely disappointed that she could suddenly achieve what she did and get past Luke’s feelings only when she had super-enhanced senses, which felt almost like a cop-out for the solution to her problems. Would a ‘normal’ person then, not be able to do what she did and help save the world, by this implication? Along with the change, the ‘new’ Beth became someone I couldn’t recognise and was frustrated with when it often seemed to be on Luke to fight that uphill battle to get back into her graces when it was clear he had demons of his own to fight—when she could seem to do no wrong in contrast.

Unfortunately, while I really liked Blake’s 2 previous books, I think ‘Absolved’ fell somewhat flat at all for those reasons above. I just wished I’d liked this one a lot more, but there just wasn’t enough for me to cheer for, not least the characters who went from push-pull to a rushed HEA that was hard to swallow.

Marnee Blake: Syfy-romance writing for YA/NA

by Marnee Blake

Hi there!

Thank you for having me on the blog today. I’m Marnee Blake, and I write fast-paced, action-packed YA and NA romantic thrillers. The Altered Series is a set of syfy romantic thrillers. The second book in the series, AVENGED, released from Entangled Embrace on June 27th.

Unlike a lot of syfy romance books, my series is contemporary-set. These books don’t take place in space or on a distant planet. They’re set on Earth. They deal with topics of science and technology here. I originally came up with this series after I read an article about something called the Transhumanist movement. Transhumanism is defined as “the belief or theory that the human race can evolve beyond its current physical and mental limitations, especially by means of science and technology.” Like so much research, one click led to another, and soon I’d fallen down the rabbit hole reading about how some think this is bold and courageous thinking, and how others warned about the possible moral and ethical issues that arise from it.

I got the idea of a doctor who develops a drug to expand mental capabilities. The books rose from there.

I think that syfy allows us, as storytellers, to explore the edges of possibility in our reality. We know that space is vast, for instance, and we are curious about what could be out there. I feel like every year brings new developments in science and technology. Fiction gives us a chance to engage with the possibilities.

As for syfy romance… When you go so close to what could be possible, it can be scary. When you’re reading about other worlds, distant lands, or the distant places that humanity could go in our own backyard, there’s fear of the unknown. Love, though, is universal. Romance celebrates the connections, not the distance. So, when we’re going to the edges of what scares us, knowing there is still love there at the core of our humanity, I think that is soothing. It gives us a safe place while we explore what could be.

Tell me what you love about syfy romance.

Thank you so much for having me today!

I’m delighted to be on Marnee’s blog tour. Read more about Avenged here.

Blog Tour: Avenged by Marnee Blake

Blog Tour: Avenged by Marnee Blake

Blog Tour: Avenged by Marnee BlakeAvenged (Altered, #2) by Marnee Blake
Published by Entangled: Embrace on June 27th 2016
Buy on Amazon

Three terrifying months.
That’s how long Kitty Laughton has been at the mercy of the scientist who experimented on her town, killing over a dozen people and giving the rest of them unique powers. But Kitty doesn’t feel powerful, especially when she learns the crazy man plans to test his research on more unsuspecting people. She refuses to let anyone else die, but trapped with no one to help her she’s out of options…that is until sexy and exasperating Nick Degrassi arrives.
Special-ops soldier Nick blames himself for Kitty’s capture, and he’ll do whatever he can to free the quiet beauty, but close quarters and a shared secret bring an attraction that neither of them expected. With the organization that started it all making mercenaries for hire, Nick and Kitty must save themselves and stop a madman…before it’s too late.
The Altered series is best enjoyed in order.Reading Order:Book #1 AlteredBook #2 Avenged


Three terrifying months.

That’s how long Kitty Laughton has been at the mercy of the scientist who experimented on her town, killing over a dozen people and giving the rest of them unique powers. But Kitty doesn’t feel powerful, especially when she learns the crazy man plans to test his research on more unsuspecting people. She refuses to let anyone else die, but trapped with no one to help her she’s out of options…that is until sexy and exasperating Nick Degrassi arrives.

Special-ops soldier Nick blames himself for Kitty’s capture, and he’ll do whatever he can to free the quiet beauty, but close quarters and a shared secret bring an attraction that neither of them expected. With the organization that started it all making mercenaries for hire, Nick and Kitty must save themselves and stop a madman…before it’s too late.

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About the Author
Award-winning author and RITA® finalist Marnee Blake used to teach high school students but these days she only has to wrangle her own children. Originally from a small town in Western Pennsylvania, she now battles traffic in southern New Jersey where she lives with her hero husband and their happily-ever-after: two very energetic boys. When she isn’t writing, she can be found refereeing disputes between her children, cooking up something sweet, or hiding from encroaching dust bunnies with a book.

Find Marnee on the web at, on Twitter @marneeblake, or on Facebook at

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Pinterest | Goodreads


“You don’t know that. You need to be prepared for anything.”

That had become the mantra over the past three days. Be prepared. Like she’d joined the Boy Scouts without anyone telling her about it.

Prepare for any event. Have an attack ready. Strike as fast and as hard as she could. Fast because speed was her best asset, and hard because she could only count on one opportunity.

She’d asked for his help. He’d reminded her of that over and over. After they’d had their conversation the first day, when he’d explained his reservations about teaching her, he’d thrown himself into her training like a man obsessed.

But not obsessed with her. In fact, since that conversation—after telling her that he wanted more than friends, that he wanted her—he’d been true to his word. He’d been a complete gentleman. He’d been respectful of her personal space, and he’d never spoken of it again, as he’d promised. He’d even reined in his thoughts, for the most part.

His touch had stayed completely platonic, as if they were related or really good buddies. And they’d touched a lot. In fact, they’d spent the last three days wrestling with each other. The more they touched, the more she craved his arms around her.

It was maddening. She’d been the one to draw the line in the sand. Yet, she was the one who wanted to stay in his arms. She was the one who inhaled too deeply when she was pressed against his chest. She was the one who couldn’t stop staring at him.

In that time, she’d only caught something different in him one time. It had been two days ago, the second full day of training. She closed her mind to him when they weren’t practicing, but she needed to hear his thoughts when they were working out so she could learn how to use her power to her advantage.

They’d fallen. He’d gone down on his butt then rolled onto his back, and she’d landed on top of him. His hands had been on her waist. Their faces had been so close she could feel his breath on her forehead. His brain had buzzed with wanting.

It had been an echo of what was coursing through her…the heat, the need to touch him.

They’d frozen like that until he gently but firmly moved her off of him and scrambled to his feet. As he’d moved away from her, she’d see it.

Something like longing.

His jaw tightened, and his brows lowered. Then, it was gone from his mind, replaced by his determination. Always his determination. He drove her on and on, teaching with more patience than she’d ever seen in anyone, forcing whatever was happening between them to the recesses of himself.

But in that moment, she’d wanted to reach for him. She’d had to stop herself from crawling to him. She wanted to wrap her arms around him and place her lips on his perfect mouth.


‘Avenged’ might not make a whole lot of sense if Blake’s first novella ‘Altered’ isn’t read first. Even if it feels as though I’ve been waiting for this book for a very long time, I found my memories about what really happened in ‘Altered’ fuzzy when the ARC of ‘Avenged’ finally dropped into my lap a year later. Thrust straight into the action from the first chapter, we’re told in bursts about what had happened in the previous months or weeks – not quite enough to put the whole picture together – but the full story isn’t quite ever revealed, as though it has been assumed that anyone who begins ‘Avenged’ has already read its prequel. I found myself having to go back and get to know the motley crew once again, which hindered my enjoyment of the story simply because of the prerequisite knowledge I needed to have to fully enjoy this one.

But relished it I did, nonetheless.

The subject matter here itself isn’t given a too much of a spin on the super-soldier and illegitimate enhanced drug testing bit that I find myself completely floored by it. But ‘Avenged’ made me a happy camper for pretty much the same reasons ‘Altered’ did: the sharp clarity of Blake’s prose, the romantic tension amidst the unrelenting action and the all-round decent main characters who aren’t afraid to say what they wanted without the slew of emotional trickery simply because there is really something bigger to fight against in an ongoing arc of a story that grows curvier and longer by the minute.

Kitty and Nick made a believable pair despite what might look like instant love, I appreciated the author’s effort to develop a connection that went beyond the physical, bound as they were by their circumstances. In short, there isn’t a dull moment, even if things sometimes skim the sharp but slippery slopes of believability at times especially when it ends in some way that echoes the shenanigans of any X-men movie over this past decade and more. More than a ‘kids trying to control their new powers’ story, ‘Avenged’ makes me hopeful for what might come after already.


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Altered by Marnee Blake

Altered by Marnee BlakeAltered by Marnee Blake
Published by Entangled: Embrace on December 28th 2015
Pages: 221
Buy on Amazon

The sickness came on suddenly and violently. When it was done, waitress Blue Michaels was different in a really strange way. And the entire town of Glory was dead...except for her.
Only that's not exactly true. A handful of people made it, including U.S. Army Specialist Seth Campbell, who was caught in the wrong town at the worst time. He's fierce and protective, and way too good-looking. As much as they need a leader—as much as Blue wants to trust him—there are too many questions and not enough time for answers. Now they are hunted. But what their pursuers don't know is each of them has strange new powers. And they'll use their "gifts" to matter who stands in their way.

“I was on my way to pick up Specialist Degrassi before heading to training at Fort Bragg. I stopped in Glory, Colorado, for the night and woke up as strong as an ox and as fast as a train.” – Seth Campbell

When a small town gets poisoned because of a rogue scientist’s actions, whose who didn’t succumb to the life-altering changes of the drug find themselves irrevocably changed – with powers that they don’t understand – and targeted by a private security company desperate to erase all evidence of this screw-up. Like a cross between X-men and Heroes, the story is a fast-paced, cinematic adventure of a group of people – whose personal allegiances are yet unclear – on the run while dealing with their own superhuman abilities that seem to have ominous consequences on their physical selves.

Marnee Blake’s skilful, assured writing has a mesmeric quality to it and turns what would be a tried-and-tested plot into an engaging read that is hard to put down. All too often, we’re thrust straight into the thick of a dystopic/post-apocalyptic world as the details slowly flesh out, but this story takes a different and brave path straddling the ‘normal’ world and the world for the ‘altered’ ones, consequently maintaining that connection to the reality as we know it. It all ends abruptly on a cliffhanger without a clear resolution however, but at least it leaves me fairly convinced that Ms. Blake still has a story worth telling.