by Dave Tucker
You know your organization has arrived when it gets featured in a Harlequin Romance. Volcanic activity at Mount Baker is the backdrop to “Winning Back His Wife“, a just-released romance by prolific writer Melissa McClone of Portland Oregon (more about her below). The heroine is ‘Sarah’, who is injured in a steam blast while setting up a seismometer in Sherman Crater. She is a post-doc who works at ‘Mount Baker Volcano Institute’. MBVI is MBVRC on steroids: there is actual funding courtesy of “a generous donation from a mysterious anonymous benefactor”, a full-time director (oddly enough, his name is ‘Tucker Samson’), and a paid staff of go-getter volcano researchers. Samson is “in his late thirties, wore jeans and a T-shirt. He looked more like a rugged cowboy than a nerdy, calculator-toting scientist”. (That can’t be me, I’m way older than that, and I never carry a calculator. But I did serve as a consultant for the book, as did our very own John Scurlock.) The romance part concerns Sarah’s impending divorce from her handsome (of course!) husband Cullen, and not Tucker Samson (sigh). Oh, did I just spoil the book?
Not much of the book’s action takes place on Mount Baker other than the accident that injures our brave heroine. There is a scene or two of the frenetic activity inside MBVI’s busy offices as steam blasts rock the volcano and seismicity increases. “Crackling energy” suffuses the place as people prepare to set up monitoring stations “a safe distance from the volcano”. Is an eruption imminent? Well, this is a romance novel, and I figured the eruption might be of a different type. I won’t ruin it for you should you decide you simply MUST have a copy of this book. But here’s a sample: “Cullen…wanted to take her in his arms and hold her close, wanted to tell her how much waiting meant to him. Instead, he kissed her lightly on the lips, forcing himself not to take the kiss deeper. But he’d make up for it…later. The pink tip of her tongue darted out and moistened her lips. He wanted to run his tongue along her lips. Hell, he wanted to taste her all over.”
Then, of course, our heroine has to tear herself away because “more data was downloading from MBVI’s server.” Damn. Just like a volcanologist. The volcano always comes first. (Oops, is that a bad pun?) I thought we were finally getting to the eruption. You’ll have to read the book yourself if you want to learn about any that.
“As Cullen kissed her, the ground trembled. Another earthquake from Mount Baker.”
‘Nuf said. Any “mysterious anonymous benefactors out there”?
Melissa McClone has written many romance novels. She has a degree in mechanical engineering from Stanford, and formerly was a jet-engine engineer with a major U.S. airline. Maybe writing Harlequin Romances pays better than that! Perhaps she should take up volcano research next.