The set up
Blair Drake is one of a kind, really! She's the only woman in the industry doing what she does as an oil rig blowout specialist and she's very good at it. Things get serious when an oil rig she inspected blows up minutes later. Nick Robichaud is a recent hire by Blair's company and he rubs her the wrong way in the beginning with his cockiness and arrogance. But they soon find themselves teaming up to figure out why this rig and others exploded. And, they begin to start rubbing each other in the right way.
Blair's great at working oil rigs and managing her crew but is ill-prepared to investigate what's going on with these explosions. Nick may have a shroud of mystery surrounding him but he's definitely got skills and Blair needs him. She's at risk and the situation is complex and murky. They both work for the same company, too, and being in a relationship is grounds for termination. Their attraction is hard to resist and Blair's not willing to risk her career for a short-term fling as her past history suggests that's all it would end up being.
What I really liked
I liked Blair. While she's working in a field that's owned and dominated by men, she has a strong sense of self and is confident in her abilities. She doesn't have to come across as "manly" to prove herself and is highly respected by her team and peers. I also liked how her relationship with Nick slowly developed. There was no angst, both acknowledging their attraction but also aware that there was lots of risk involved. This was also one of the most unique investigations that played out in Saudi Arabia and the Empty Quarter (desert). I learned a LOT about the culture and the reality of life for women in that nation.
What I loved
The whole desert experience. I can't say more without spoiling the story other than it was an emotionally draining situation and elevated Blair to one of the most kick-butt heroines I've ever read. Very moving.
Where it didn't go far enough
I had a hard time swallowing the skills of the grad student and Blair's father's transformation. You'll have to read the story for the details but these characters needed more backstory for me to swallow their behaviors. The story should have been just a tad longer to integrate them better as they were important characters.
The bottom line
This was a GREAT story, so different from most I've read in awhile. The action was almost non stop and the main characters were not super heroes, often finding themselves in serious trouble. I also loved their romance as it wasn't "insta-love" even though the attraction grew quickly. There was much more suspense than romance but that worked for me as it provided time and means for Blair and Nick to bond. It was fast paced and I liked how the story unfolded. However, I really, really wish there was a follow up book planned because there were other characters here that are worthy of a separate story. Otherwise, this was a highly enjoyable reading experience.
(I received an ARC from the publisher)