Author: Alessia Brio and Will Belegon, editors
Publication date: 2007
Series: Coming Together
Heat Level: F/M; F/F; M/M; M/M/M
Coming Together: Under Fire is a collection of short stories and poems dedicated to the victims of the Southern California wildfires in October 2007 and to the courageous men and women who battled those blazes. All the proceeds go to help the victims, some of whom will surely struggle for years to put their lives back together. As part of the Coming Together series - benefiting a variety of charities and natural disasters, Coming Together: Under Fire is both an extremely worthwhile project and the perfect book to dip into before bedtime.
Editors Alessia Brio and Will Belegon made sure this collection of 37 short stories and poems include something for everyone. Many of the entries have fire as a theme, but not all. Some of the stories seem specifically written about the Southern California fires, mentioning names and places familiar to those who lived through those harrowing days, such as myself.
Poetry lovers will be delighted to find poems comprise half this volume and are interleafed between each short story. I especially liked the way the editors italicized the poetry titles in the table of contents, making it easier for the reader. It’s impossible to review all 37 entries in one short review but a few stand out.
Burn Zone by James Buchanan is a touching and erotic story about 3 firefighters, two city fireman and one smoke jumper. The men are roommates and when two of them hear the third is having trouble dealing with the loss of his teammates in an out-of-control brushfire, they go looking for him. Once they finally find him, they force him to face his guilt while affirming the unique bond they share as friends and a sexual threesome.
Drive-In by Tilly Green is a fun story about a very sexy and pent up firefighter and his patient girlfriend enjoying public sex at a private beach party. She finally gets up the nerve to express her deepest feelings and naturally that’s just when he gets paged to come back to work.
Slow Burn Blues by Lefty McGee is a powerful poem about a man drinking whiskey in a smoky bar while listening to a woman sing the blues. In just a few short stanzas, the story of this man’s regrets and his overwhelming shame is revealed.
Blind Date by Stephanie Vaughan seems written specifically for this volume. It’s the sexy story of two gay men on a blind date - arranged by one of their moms, no less! One happens to be a firefighter on call which gives the story a nice tension. The two quickly hit it off and although things go from spark to inferno they also manage to connect emotionally in a very special way.
The last title of this anthology, The End of the World by Gwen Masters, is an astonishingly tender tale of a married couple lost in the vast Gibson Desert of Australia. It’s unbearably hot, the food and water are running out and they know they can’t last more than a couple of days. With nothing to do but wait to die, they are forced to finally face the reasons their marriage failed. Although The End of the World has nothing to do with fire per se, it’s a story of hope in the face of total disaster – a fitting end to this fine collection.