Veteran Affairs

For romance readers, a hardy man is good to find

Gillian Laub for TIME

Markus Ricci casts aside his parachute and backpack and lowers his buff-colored jumpsuit past the glistening slabs of his abdominal muscles. "Don't go any lower," a nearby voice says, "or Walmart will kill me."

The word of caution comes from Kristine Mills-Noble, creative director of Kensington Publishing. She is watching a computer screen while Ricci gazes into the camera with a look that's part wooing, part warning. In a downtown Manhattan studio, the Kensington crew is shooting the cover of Burning Up, the first in a new series of romance novels about smoke jumpers. In real life, these elite paratrooper firefighters...

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