This book captivated me immediately and I was glued to my Kindle until the end. It is a heartwarming romance with humor, suspense and family drama. I highly recommend Joining Hearts and look forward to reading more from Iona Findley.

Pamela R Mitchell

Joining Hearts is a type of romance read that is rarely seen in the genre. A thrill seeker heroine with a take charge attitude falling for a mysterious father with a teenage daughter. Iona Findley is on point with her Hero’s Heart Series.

Isha Coleman

I loved this book!  While it is definitely a standalone book, you’ll really benefit the most if you’ve read the previous volumes in this series to fully appreciate all the nuances of the different personalities in the secondary characters.

Trish S

Gorgeous and Grumpy Single Father Meets Feisty Female Firefighter!

 

Dad in distress. Smokejumper to the rescue!

Widower Marcus Ricci has always been a hero: the fair boss, the good son, the responsible brother, the model dad. Now he’s gone from good-natured to grouchy in one short birthday — not his; his daughter Linnie’s. She’s hit thirteen, and he’s hit a brick wall trying to communicate with her. He just can’t make her understand the dangers of joining him on his construction sites.

To make matters worse, he has another female determined to interfere in his construction business. Injured Smokejumper-turned-Arson-Investigator Zoe Montgomery’s investigation into a dangerous firebug has led her straight to his construction business. Her meddling is driving him crazy… or could that be the sparks flying between them?

Zoe Montgomery has always been a woman of goals and action. She’s never considered starting a family, but when she meets Marcus’ rebellious daughter she starts wondering what she’s missing. It’s too bad the teen comes with such a grumpy and growly (but gorgeous) dad.

Zoe is determined to catch the firebug, help the frustrated teen, and definitely control the flames blazing between Marcus and herself. Then she realizes his bark is worse than his bite and his kisses… to-die-for.

Now she’s wondering if she wants their twosome to become a threesome, and he’s wondering if she might be his second chance for happiness. Is the sexual tension between them turning into love?

Joining Hearts can be enjoyed as a standalone story or as part of the Hero’s Heart Series.

 

Third in the Hero’s Hearts series, JOINING HEARTS combines compelling characters, strong family relationships, and realistic conflicts to create a beautiful balance of heat, heartache, and happiness.

 

HERO’S HEART SERIES:
Opening Hearts (Book #1) Sam and Jessalyn

Risking Hearts (Book #2) Jake and Hope

Joining Hearts (Book #3) Zoe and Marcus

Evolving Hearts (Book #4) Andy and Amy

Finding Hearts (Book #5) Mikey and Julia

THE TOUSSAINTS:
Trust My Love (Book #1) Philippe and Claire

Unwind My Love (Book #2) Delphine and Geo

Reclaimed by Love (Book #3) Remy and Rachel

 

If you love heartwarming stories of uplifting characters in life changing situations, download a sample or buy JOINING HEARTS now.

 

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CHAPTER ONE

“We have the best job in the world!” Zoe screamed as adrenaline rushed through her bloodstream. The roar of the Doug, the DC-3TP aircraft, they were taking up for the first jump of the wildfire season was loud, but her exuberant shout-out could still be heard by the others on the team. She grinned as she braced herself against the heavy vibrations of the equipment, not allowing her body to bounce or be pulled to one side or the other.

Hank, the team’s spotter, seated across from her, met her gaze and winked. None of the others were likely to scream out like a deranged cheerleader, but she knew they all felt the same. From the left, No-way Nate swung his hand over to fist bump his agreement, confirming that fact.

A tingle of nerves raced up her spine and the tickle of anticipation gurgled in her belly. She was surrounded by her team and on her way to a fire — one that raged across the forest, destroying everything in its path. And she couldn’t be happier. This was all she’d ever wanted to do.

She looked around her at the team. Some were talking and laughing with each other, but not her jump partner, Ray Longfeather. After almost twenty years on the job, Ray still held a prayer vigil in his head before each jump. It was how he got ready, and no one minded. They knew that once they were down, if the dragon tried to eat them, Ray would be the first wielding a sword to slay it. Once they reached the fire, he was without fear or hesitation. Ray was jumping first today, and Zoe would go right after him.

Zoe waited for Hank to give them the nod, then pressed herself up to stand while reaching for her helmet. The plane bucked, and she used her free hand to brace herself and widened her stance, improving her center of gravity. She waited for Ray’s customary kiss to her forehead before she slipped the helmet on. He wasn’t being sexist when he did it; he kissed everyone who jumped with him, regardless of their gender. It was a quick peck, “a blessing” he called it, and with the risks they all took with each jump and every fire, no one complained. They were willing to take any blessings that came their way.

Hank, the spotter, navigated around them and attached his harness to the restraining line before pulling open the door. The familiar rush of smoky wind and heat from the flames was oddly welcoming, and she took a deep gulp of the not-so-fresh air. It was still better than the stale, sweltering air from inside the flying crate. The plane they used was no luxury flying experience, that was for sure.

Ray Longfeather, now with his helmet in place and his reserves tucked tightly under his arm, watched as Hank tossed out the first set of streamers.

The streamers floated down towards the inferno below them, landing in one of the trees as of yet untouched by flame. Zoe adjusted her face mask until it sealed right, while Hank called out to the pilot, Jake, to pull the plane to the left. Hank dumped out the second set of streamers, watching their path, then turned back to Ray.

“You ready, big Indian?” That was what Hank always called Ray. Everyone else called him Ray or Longfeather. Only Hank, who worked this job way back when Zoe’s dad and uncle had retired, could get by with the name. “Hook up,” Hank told him.

Longfeather snapped his static line in place and, anticipating what Hank would say next, stepped up to the narrow doorway, gripping the frame on each side and bending his knees into the squat position, which helped them surge out of the plane. Zoe was right behind him, ready to snap her line and take her turn.

“You see the spot?” Hank asked.

Longfeather nodded, “I see it.”

Hank had his head hanging out the door as the plane leveled out above the jump spot. “Get ready!” he yelled. Seconds later he slapped Ray on the shoulder, and out Ray went. Anticipation zinged through her, and Zoe bounced on her toes two times before taking her spot. Come on! She waited for the plane to level once more, and then it was her turn for a tap. When she felt it, she propelled herself out into the atmosphere and began the short free-fall before she opened her chute. The ground raced upwards at her. It was the most exhilarating sensation in the world, and although she had tried to describe it to several of her friends over the years, it was indescribable.

She counted off the clicks of time in her head after Ray’s big, orange canopy opened, and with a yank her ‘chute burst open as well. She hung there in the pocket between the clouds above and the fiery forest below, enjoying the surreal quiet. The peaceful moment didn’t last long, though, and she refocused on her goal. She gripped the toggles, steering herself to the spot Hank had mapped out, fighting the winds that tugged and tried to carry her back the other way, back into the hungry belly of the beast. Not today.

Ray landed safely, and she breathed a sigh of relief. Safe landings were critical for the containment of any wildfire. Her turn. She pressed her feet downward, aligning her body into position for the best possible landing. She was ready when she saw them – big, jagged rocks jutting from the surface of the landing site. Covered in moss, they’d been camouflaged from the sight of the spotter in the plane.

Somehow, maybe thanks to his pre-jump prayers, Ray missed them and landed on a three foot by six foot patch of solid rock just in front of the disaster zone. He tossed the canopy aside and eyeballed her, taking stock of her position and calling out for her to pull her ‘chute to the right. He moved quickly out of the spot while he continued to call out instructions, trying to guide her to safety.

No time. Dammit! Zoe hadn’t seen the rocks in time. The craggy bastards were rushing up to meet her and it was too late to avoid them. Bracing herself, she pulled down on her toggles and let her feet touch the ground. As she did, she was thrown forward and smashed her patella against one of the rocks.

Fuuuuuck! Pain lanced up from her leg and stabbed into her heart, taking her breath for a moment. As she dropped to the ground and screamed out in agony, Zoe imagined her life as the lone female smokejumper laying in fragments around her on that rock. She’d suffered countless hours of pain in the form of sore muscles, torn ligaments, cuts, scrapes, and even burns for her spot on the team. She lived for the sound of that first alarm of the season, and the smell of the smoke and the heat of the flames. Then in one moment… everything changed. The career she’d trained for, and fought for, was crushed, as rapidly as the shattered bones in her knee.

*****

Four Months Later

Marcus clicked off the newscast just as Linnie came in the room. She folded her arms and sat on the far end of the sectional, staring pointedly at the blank television screen.

“So, I’m too young for the news too? Oh wait, I’m just too female, right?”

Marcus sighed and started pulling on his boots. If only Audrey were still alive. His wife had managed Linnie’s flare-ups better than his lame attempts.

“Knock it off, Linnie. I’m leaving for work, and you need to get to school, that’s why I turned the TV off. Why do you want to start our day like this?”

“I don’t,” she said. “I want to begin the day by making plans with my father to see him after school at the job site where he’s going to teach me all about his business.”

“I told you that you can train on the paperwork whenever you’re ready.”

“If I were a boy, you’d be buying me a pair of boots and a hardhat and expecting me to show up and swing a hammer.” Amber eyes, so like her mother’s, shot daggers at him.

“Not necessarily.” He stood up, putting his wallet in his back pocket. “You’re thirteen, Linnie. Thirteen-year-olds, either boys or girls, don’t belong on a construction site. When we’re working on something inside, a little safer…”

“Yeah, right.” She sighed and stood up. She picked up her backpack from the side of the couch and slung one strap over one shoulder asking, “Will you be home for dinner?”

“I’m not sure,” he said, “I’ll call you.” She started to head for the door and he called after her, “Carolyn, I love you.”

She flipped her long, dark hair away from her face and threw him a teenage ‘whatever’ wave. At least things hadn’t deteriorated to the point of a middle finger salute. Kids today thought nothing of disrespecting their parents, but not Linnie. Even in their worst interactions she never took it there.

Thank God.

He stood watching his beautiful girl until she slammed the door behind her. Frustration rolled up the back of his neck and he tried to shake it off. He spotted the keys to his pickup on the coffee table, snatched them up, and headed out to work. Time to meet his brother, Sam, and the owner of an older Victorian home in Brooklyn’s Ditmas Park to give Mr. Camposario an estimate. An arson fire destroyed part of the home several months prior. The old guy received a check from the insurance company, after being cleared of suspicion, and he seemed anxious to begin rebuilding.

Marcus arrived early, as usual, and Sam, true to form, was late. He’d blame his tardiness on being a new father. Which was absurd. Baby Matthew turned one year old soon. Even before Jessalyn had the baby, Sam zoomed in at the last possible moment.

Marcus stepped out of his truck just as his phone rang. He didn’t recognize the number, but new business came through that line, so he answered. “Ricci Brothers, this is Marcus, how can I help you?” He stopped as he spoke and turned back to face the pickup, leaning on it with one arm and resting his hand on the hood.

“Mr. Ricci?”

“Yes…”

“My name is Zoe Montgomery. I’m an arson investigator, working for the city of New York.”

“Okay. Why are you calling me?”

No response. He heard her breathing across the open line, and a slow, steady thu-dump-th, thu-dum-th, thu-dum-th. Sounded like annoyed fingernails on a laminate desk. She was impatient? She interrupted his day, not the other way around. And what was with the silent treatment? “Well?” he asked again.

An audible inhale-exhale told him she delayed answering on purpose. The long intentional silence grated on his nerves like a wooden Popsicle stick scraping between his teeth. Jesus.

“I need to meet with you about a recent string of arsons in the city. I understand your company bid on and completed three jobs renovating the damaged homes?”

Shit! Marcus said to himself as he glanced across the street at the house of his new client.

Over the past year he and Sam worked their asses off to gain a reputation that spoke for itself. More business came in each month as a result. “Yes, we completed those jobs,” he told her. “Long after the fires took place, however. I’m not sure how I can help you.”

“That remains to be seen,” she said. “How does ten a.m. tomorrow work for you?”

“It doesn’t. The morning is full with demo on the new job site.” He ran a hand through his hair. Maybe in the evening? Before he proposed the alternate time, her aggressive tone cut off his thoughts.

“That’s fine,” she said. “Text the address to this number and I’ll meet you there.”

“Miss…?” Marcus forgot her name, but she’d hung up. “Shit!” After countless hours of hard work and leveraging every ounce of his business savvy, his business was going strong. He employed a crew of ten guys now and they worked four jobs simultaneously around the city.

Their reputation drew in unsolicited contracts at this point, and the damned arson unit wanted to muck everything up. Now this…this… woman. She seemed determined to pull them into something they had no part of. He shoved the phone in his pocket and kicked the tire in front of him.

“God dammit!”

“What are you cussing about so early in the morning?” Sam asked from behind him, and Marcus startled, not realizing his brother had arrived. He swung around to scowl at his brother’s lopsided grin.

“Nothing. Damn pushy females.”

 

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