Author's Blog: http://johnheldt.blogspot.comBlurb:
When Kevin Johnson, 22, goes to Wallace, Idaho, days after his college graduation, he expects to find rest and relaxation as his family prepares his deceased grandfather's house for sale. Then he discovers a hidden diary and a time portal that can take him to 1910, the year of Halley's comet and the largest wildfire in U.S. history. Within hours, Kevin finds himself in the era of horse-drawn wagons, straw hats, and ankle-length dresses. Returning to the same time and place, he decides to travel again and again and make the portal his gateway to summer fun. The adventure takes a more serious turn, however, when the luckless-in-love science major falls for pretty English teacher Sarah Thompson and integrates himself in a community headed for tragedy. Filled with humor, romance, and heartbreak, THE FIRE, the sequel to THE JOURNEY, follows a conflicted soul through a life-changing journey as he makes his mark on a world he was never meant to see.
At the very beginning, we get a glimpse of our hero and heroine from THE MINE and THE SHOW. I thought, "Oh, haven't these two been through enough?" Instead, I find that Kevin is the son of our heroine's younger self for THE JOURNEY who chose a different, one that held happiness and a family.
Kevin graduates college in Seattle and heads off to Wallace, Idaho and the family's homestead. These days, with the older relations gone, it is seen more as an extra home that needs to be sold. Alone in the guest room, Kevin finds a trove of family records under the floor board. They contain a wealth of family history and the secret to older generation's financial success. This included the instructions on using a time portal in the backyard. Kevin uses the portal to go back to 1910, where he meets the love of his life, Sarah.
This tale is different than the others in that our hero isn't a victim of chance. No odd happenstance sucked him into an adventure. He walks in of his own freewill. It was nice to see he didn't feel trapped or guilty about forming attachments or relationships. There were several times when I wondered if he would choose to stay in the simpler time or if his own reality would call him back. Watching him became a part of his 1910 Wallace community was fun. He took a very modern approach to teaching and applied it in a time when children were thought of more as small adults. The impact he had eventually echoed through the ages.
Now about that ending, I'm glad to see Kevin get his happily-ever-after. Really, I am, but my jaw dropped when he looses Sarah. I certainly didn't see that one coming. I finished that page and was scratching my head. Did Heldt really stray that far from his formula? How in the name of heaven was Kevin going to get his HEA without Sarah? Oh, never fear, dear reader. That's been covered. The fantasy world's balance of love conquers all and mystery is still working. Kevin does end up with his dream woman and a happy life.
As this series is more of a science fiction story with a romance element, the language is suitable for a general audience. There would be no problem letting the tweens and teens read The Fire. While nice if you've read the other three books, it isn't strictly necessary. I liked the pace and the descriptions of the past. The history of the fire destroying a sizable portion of the town of Wallace and how the chaos separated the two young lovers was compelling. I recommend this one for anyone and for anywhere. Reading this gem at work shouldn't be a problem. I can't wait to see what Heldt does next.