Delilah Gordon has a secret.
She’s been in love with her best friend and the boy next door, Fox Nelson, since she was six years old.
And while most of her friends and family know about her unrequited crush, the one person who remains oblivious is Fox himself. To Delilah, it’s better this way. She’d rather pretend that they’re just friends, even though her feelings for the moody rugged mountain man are anything but tame.
Fox Nelson has a secret too.
As a wildland firefighter or “hot shot,” Fox parachutes into danger every day he’s on the job, risking all to fight wildfires that threaten ranches, forests and thousands of lives. But while Fox’s job is only for the brave, inside he feels anything but. The more he grapples with his raging demons, the more he realizes Delilah is the only one who can put out the flames.
As the two friends grow closer – and more intimate – than ever before, the more complicated their relationship becomes.
And Delilah has one more secret to reveal.
A secret that will change both their lives…forever.
“Love is wildfire.”
OMG, I love this book! Fox and Delilah’s story has been simmering in the background of the previous two books of the series, and while I have loved each of those stories – and this one can standalone – Karina Halle smacked it out of the park with this one! Finishing off the series with a heartwrenching, emotional, passionate, angsty and intense friends-to-lovers story, and though it hurt at times, it was everything that I was hoping for.
My name is Delilah Gordon, and all my life I have been head over heels in love with the boys next door, Fox Nelson.
And all my life I have been acutely aware that he is not in love with me.
Delilah Gordon grew up with the Nelson boys. After the death of their mother, her mother came along to help the family, and the kids were all raised together. And though she has a brother/sister relationship with the two younger Nelson boys, from the age of six, Delilah felt differently about eldest brother, Fox, and she has been in mad, all-consuming, unrequited love with him for years.
Fox Nelson is a complicated, troubled soul. The death of his mother left a pronounced mark on him, and he is gruff, broody and tormented by his demons. He has his family, but he struggles to deal with the maelstrom of emotions from his past, and he throws himself into the danger of his job as a hot shot – a wildland firefighter – and the stress and intensity of that impacts on him as well. The bright spot in his life is his best friend. Delilah brings light and sunshine into his life, and it’s only with her that he finds calm and peace.
She was always something separate, the girl next door, a light that would always lead me out of the black. She was my saving grace and the one constant thing I had in my life, the one person who could turn things around.
What I feel for her has always been so deep and complicated that I still don’t quite know what it is.
I don’t want to go into detail about the story, because you just need to dive in and experience it, but wow, what a ride. The chemistry between Del and Fox is insane, and as feelings are revealed and boundaries are crossed, I could feel the blend of confusion, elation, wonder, and their passion for each other is beautifully explored.
He’s everything I’ve ever wanted and everything I shouldn’t have and he’s fucking me like we might lose everything tomorrow.
And we might.
I love Delilah’s huge heart, and the way she gave of herself so openly to Fox. She knows he is damaged, and while she is willing to take what he is able to offer her, she’s also strong enough to not just let him walk all over her. She knows what she wants, and though Fox is the love of her life, she’s prepared to fight for it.
“You don’t even know what love is. You wouldn’t know it if it hit you in the face. You wouldn’t know it unless you were open to it and you’re not. You never were. You’re closed off. You’re happy in your anger and your sorrow and you shun everything good.”
And Fox… God, how I want to hug him! I could feel his pain and his genuine confusion, I could absolutely empathise with him, and my heart ached so much for him. He’s so messed up that he doesn’t recognise what he’s feeling or what to do about it, and his journey is so beautifully written.
“I don’t know what I want in general or where my head is. I don’t know what the future holds. I’m too…I don’t know, scared, to even look. I’m just…” he opens his eyes and they focus on me, holding me in place. “I’m a mess, to be honest with you. And you’re the only thing that makes sense. That’s all I know.”
It’s a hard road for these two, and their journey is angsty and emotional, but it’s good angst and emotion. It makes you feel and fully experience the story with the characters without getting frustrated or annoyed with them. It’s a true journey for them, with a lot of soul searching and character development, and I loved every moment of it!
“You’re everything I’ve been looking my whole life for and you’ve been right in front of me all this time. My heart, my everything, it belongs solely to you.”
And as much as this is a story about two people figuring out what they want and finding the courage to fight for it, the love story is absolutely beautiful, with twists, turns and surprises, a whole lot of hotness fun, sweetness and so much soon! I had tears in my eyes multiple time while I was reading, and I was completely swept up in the romance.
“I want to be consumed … I want to love you, burn for you, until there’s nothing else left. Just your heart and mine.”
The story ends well, providing great closure for Fox and Delilah, and also for the rest of the Nelson clan. It’s definitely a high point for the series to finish on, and I read it in one sitting unable to put it down!
Truly unforgettable. 5 stars!
An Advanced Review Copy was generously provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.
North Ridge series
It’s dark now and quiet except for the crickets. In the distance, the town of North Ridge glows, the lights giving way to the dark mountain ranges behind it and beyond that, a clear, starry sky.
I immediately feel better but it’s not enough. I need to walk, to get my head on straight, to get my heart to stop caving in.
I head down the slope to the barn. It’s second nature to want to come here during hard times. Growing up, if anyone in the house was fighting—and it was usually Shane and Fox—this was where you’d find them afterwards, licking their wounds.
Right now the barn is empty, all the horses are either in their paddocks or the pastures. I glance up at the hayloft and contemplate going up there when I hear footsteps behind me.
I immediately stiffen. It’s funny how you can feel someone’s specific presence without seeing them.
“What’s wrong with you?” Fox asks gruffly from behind me. Typical. Even if he’s concerned, sometimes he comes across like it annoys him to be concerned.
I take in a deep breath and turn around. “I don’t know,” I say, my voice measured. “Just felt a bit nauseous.”
He studies my face intently, so intently that I look away, my eyes drifting over the empty stalls. “I thought maybe I’d pissed you off somehow,” he says.
Is he baiting me?
I meet his eyes. “Why would you think that?”
“You could barely look at me during dinner,” he says, taking a step toward me until he’s a foot away. “Was it something I did? Is this about Conan?”
He’s so damn earnest in that last question that I have to laugh. I fold my arms across my chest. “No, Fox. This isn’t about your squirrel. It’s not about anything. I’m just…tired.”
I can tell he doesn’t believe me and the intensity has changed in his eyes. They’ve become more focused on me, like he’s seeing me for the first time and nothing else around us matters.
“I like this,” he says, his voice sounding thick. He takes a strand of my hair between his fingers and runs them down. “Your hair is so long. You should wear it down more often.”
I roll my eyes and hope I’m not blushing. “You guys are all the same. A girl wears her hair down and puts on some makeup and suddenly you realize that she’s actually hot. It’s like She’s All That come to life.”
Oh shit. I probably shouldn’t have said that last bit out loud since it’s a whole bunch of assumptions and I’m not one to flatter myself like that.
But he just grins. One of those cheeky, warm smiles that makes his eyes crinkle at the corners, the dimples appear in his scruff. He doesn’t smile like that very often and every time he does for me, it makes me feel…invincible.
“Del, I’ve always thought you were hot,” he says, still smiling. No awkwardness or hesitation. He just comes out and says it.
And now I am blushing. “Yeah right.”
“What?” he asks, tucking my hair behind my ear and—hell—his touch causes warm shivers to wash down my back. “It’s true. I mean, look at you.”
Don’t read into it. Don’t read into it.
“Do you remember that birthday party where we played spin the bottle?” I ask him, my voice sounding broken.
He nods. “Kind of.” But he doesn’t remove his hand, keeps playing with my hair.
I don’t know why I’m feeling brave all of a sudden but I am. “Well you spun the bottle and it stopped right at me. No mistake about it. And you got up and said it was stupid and left. Fox, we were good friends and you acted like kissing me was the worst thing on earth.”
His dark brows knit together but his eyes stay warm. “You remember that?”
“Fox. I’m a woman. I’m always going to remember when a boy rejects me, especially my best friend and especially at a young age.”
“But we were young. And I was pretty stupid back then.”
“You thought I was gross.”
He lets out a soft laugh. “I can promise you I did not think you were gross.” His hand then leaves my hair and trails down my arm to my hand. Sometimes Fox holds it and I know I shouldn’t think anything of it but every time he does I wonder if he realizes what it does to me. Then again, I’m starting to think he’s oblivious to absolutely everything.
“I didn’t kiss you,” he goes on, “not because I didn’t want to. I did.” He swallows, shrugs. “I just didn’t want our first kiss to be from spin the bottle.”
“What do you mean? Our first kiss?” I repeat, my pulse quickening.
“I don’t know, Del. Back then, I kind of assumed that we would end up together at some point. You know all through high school I had just been waiting to make my move and ask you out. At least figure out if you liked me or not. But then you started going out with that guy with the big ears, what was his name, Ryan McGee? And that’s when I realized that it was probably all in my head. You were just a friend. A sister, even. And I was just a brother to you.”
Holy. Fucking. Shit.
This is way too much to process.
Fox thought we’d end up together.
He actually liked me back in high school!
“You look shocked,” he says, raising a brow. “I thought it was pretty obvious.”
“Obvious?” I blurt out. “No. No it wasn’t.”
He lets go of my hand and shrugs with one shoulder. “It’s funny how life goes, isn’t it? It was probably for the best anyway. Could you have imagined us dating? Being a couple.”
Yes, fucking yes.
Karina Halle is a former travel writer and music journalist and The New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today Bestselling author of The Pact, Love, in English, The Artists Trilogy, Dirty Angels and over 20 other wild and romantic reads. She lives on an island off the coast of British Columbia with her husband and her rescue pup, where she drinks a lot of wine, hikes a lot of trails and devours a lot of books.
Halle is represented by the Root Literary and is both self-published and published by Simon & Schuster and Hachette in North America and in the UK.
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