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Soot and Sweat on Flesh

by Julie MacShane

Book Summary

This is the story of a young female firefighter-in-training at a fire station filled with men who are looking to make her one of them or break her in her short 6 month's probation. All Bette Maguire wants to do is become a full-fledged firefighter -- it is her dream job, her passion. But will she succeed despite the men who are judging her every move and despite her own individual problems?

Probationary firefighter (probie) Bette, a tall, blond, pretty woman, is naively confident of success at her new occupation. All her life she has been independent, smart, and strong; she doesn’t expect the difficult, humbling, and sometimes dangerous trials the firemen throw at her. But she must undergo these tests to prove to her close-knit, all-male squad in Webster, NH that she has what it takes to do the demanding job. One of their first tests involves a shower scene where nobody is getting wet, but Bette loses something very valuable to her.

Complicating matters, she disobeys the direct orders of her boss, Lieutenant Patrick Keane, and falls for her good-looking, loyal squad mate Joe Griffin. Joe is trying to help her overcome her mouth and her independent ways so she can become one of them. In the process, though, he grows to like Bette more than he should if he is to remain an impartial co-worker. Joe can´t help it, though: he likes Bette and she grows to like him. They become inseparable on the job and have a great, fun time together by competing at sports and who gets to use the hose.

Although Joe tries to protect her, Bette has a very strong independent streak. That and her big mouth cause her to make an enemy of the truck lieutenant, Lt. Harold "Dirty Harry" Briscoe, who is a hard-ass of the hardest kind. He does not believe women should be in the fire department, and Bette doesn't change his opinion when he meets her. Bette runs her truck into his much-loved car and runs her mouth off at him at the worst times, pissing him off and making him plot to turn her job into a living hell. While she battles her mouth and her feelings, she struggles to hide a haunting childhood memory involving her brother and a fire that could end her career before it has even begun.

At her probation’s end, Bette must survive a trial by fire that tests her willingness and ability to truly become one of the team. Being a firefighter is what she wants with her whole heart. But how much is she willing to give up to do it? Will facing her own death get in the way?