Forrest for the Trees, an all new slow burn small town romance from Kilby Blades, is LIVE in Kindle Unlimited!
Forrest Winters isn’t just a federal fire marshal; he’s a thorn in Ranger Sierra Betts’s side. The way he swings his big axe, fixes her with his chameleon gray eyes, and talks about his jurisdiction has a way of breaking her concentration. He has a way of showing up everywhere he doesn’t belong, including Greenbrier Ranger Station. And he really needs to quit stealing her bacon bites.
When a series of suspicious fires, an underhanded co-worker, and a cagey Parks Police Chief threaten her job and the park itself, Sierra grudgingly agrees to partner with Forrest. Their side investigation may be her best shot at preventing the framing of an innocent man. But can his firefighting expertise and her detective skills lead them to the real arsonist before Forrest breaks her with his charm?
‘Forrest for the Trees’ is a full-length contemporary romance, can be read as a standalone and is book #1 in the Green Valley Heroes series, Green Valley Chronicles, Penny Reid Book Universe
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“Do you walk around with bacon in your pocket or something?” Sierra asked.
Forrest gave Everest a final rub and rose to his feet. “I reckon it’s just good, old-fashioned Southern charm.”
Reaching toward his face, he pushed up the temple of his sunglasses until they sat on top of his head. Forrest looked down at her, smirk on his face, as usual, having his fun. Only, for Sierra, there was nothing fun about the heat that rose to her ears every time his gaze set on her, clouding her thinking with his smoky eyes.
Forrest’s eyes weren’t just gray, and they weren’t “just eyes.” His gaze was penetrating and clear, with dark lashes that matched his dark hair. His irises were never the same, though whatever their hue at any given moment, a dark charcoal ring that looked like drawn pencil outlined the lighter color, adding intensity. Today they shone brightly—the color of wet shale—a stark difference from the last time she’d seen him. They’d turned dark, like slate, when he’d talked about the fires. There was something wondrous, and magical, and devastating about watching the way they changed.
“What are you doing in my neck of the woods?”
Forrest chuckled and crossed his arms. “Your woods again, huh?”
Sierra mirrored his posture. “‘Neck of the woods’ is a Southernism. I know how y’all like your sayings.”
He laughed again, his voice rich and deep—another thing about him she had the bad habit of replaying in her mind.
“Better than a pig likes slop.” Forrest’s eyes twinkled.
It made Sierra grateful for her own sunglasses—windows to her soul, and all. She didn’t want to think what Forrest might notice if he really saw her then. He would never stop gloating if he knew of her susceptibility to his allure.
“You never said what you were doing here,” she pointed out.
“Following up on some potential fire hazards. Just being vigilant. You know how it is …”
Sierra nodded. “I do.”
“I was just down at the ranger station …” he began haltingly. “I wanted to thank you for what you left me—you know, my fire marshal snacks.”
Sierra bit her lip against her own smile. “You liked that, huh?”
“Not just me. The guys thought it was pretty funny.”
“You told me you could read, so I figured …” She trailed off innocently, and shrugged.
After their last conversation and his repeated, willful ignorance of her Tupperware marked specifically as being “Ranger Snacks,” she’d brought in a smaller Tupperware labeled “Fire Marshal Snacks.”
“Sad thing is, a different fire marshal must’ve beat me to it,” he continued. “Imagine my disappointment when I opened the container and it was empty.”
“Oh, no!” She feigned shock. “What did you do?”
“Picked up the phone and called Ed Ellis. Asked him to put out an APB to track down whoever had my bites.”
“Then you helped yourself to the ranger bites, I’m guessing.”
He made a production out of looking distraught. “They’re not as good as fire marshal bites, but I had no choice.”
He didn’t take his gaze off of her. When heat rose again in her ears, she knew she had to go. Plus, if she didn’t get moving, she really would be late.
“Nice to see you, Marshal Winters.”
His smirk melted into a half-smile. “Always a pleasure, Ranger Betts.”
About Kilby Blades
Kilby Blades is a USA Today Bestselling author of Romance and Women’s Fiction. Her debut novel, Snapdragon, was a HOLT Medallion finalist, a Publisher’s Weekly BookLife Prize Semi-Finalist, and an IPPY Award medalist. Kilby was honored with an RSJ Emma Award for Best Debut Author in 2018, and has been lauded by critics for “easing feminism and equality into her novels” (IndieReader) and “writing characters who complement each other like a fine wine does a good meal” (Publisher’s Weekly).
During her career as a digital marketing executive, she moonlighted as a journalist, freelanced as a food, wine and travel writer and lived it up as an entertainment columnist. She has lived in five countries, visited more than twenty-five, and spends part of her year in her happy place in the Andes Mountains. Kilby is a feminist, an oenophile, a cinephile, a social-justice fighter, and above all else, a glutton for a good story. Follow her everywhere @kilbyblades.
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[I received a digital arc for an honest review]
Forrest for the Trees by Kilby Blades is the first book in the Green Valley Heroes series and part of the Smartypants Romance universe. Sierra Betts is a park ranger for the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. She loves her job and is working towards a promotion when a series of fires brings her directly into the line of Forrest Winters, the federal fire marshal. Forrest has been a thorn in Sierra’s side since she started in the park but as she delves into the arson investigation with him she realizes there is so much more to him than plaid shirts and an axe. Forrest has always observed Sierra from a distance but when he allows himself to open up to her, he finds himself wanting so much more. But as the fires burn hot, Sierra and Forrest will find themselves questioning if they can handle the heat.
Sierra Betts is a bad*ss. I really enjoyed watching her stand up for herself in the boys club that is the park service and knowing she belonged among the higher ups helping make the park a better place. I also liked seeing her softer side as she cared for Jake and allowed Forrest in. This book was a super slow burn where I spent a lot of time getting to know her before the romance with Forrest really took off.
“I’ve got your number, Sierra Betts. I see what you don’t want anyone to see- the part of you that’s soft, that cares so much. It’s beautiful.”
Forrest Winters is an interesting balance of strong alpha federal fire marshal and emotional softie who imagines a future with Sierra after only their first date. They have a back and forth flirty connection that has spanned quite some time before he feels like Sierra trusts him enough to let him in really.
This was a super slow burn romance which can be hit or miss for me. It introduced a whole new collection of characters who deserve a little love, especially Rick who just needs someone special. There was a lot of character development outside of their romantic relationship that once Sierra and Forrest started going their relationship didn’t feel rushed. A lot of time was spent with the fire investigation which at times felt a little cumbersome.
3.5 stars for a slow burn romance for two beautiful souls finding each other in the forest.