Widowed and alone on the frontier, Elspeth Stewart will do whatever it takes to protect herself and her unborn child from the dangers of the wilderness and of men. Though her youthful beauty doesn't show it, she is broken and scarred from the way men have treated her. So when a stranger wanders onto Bethie's land, wounded and needing her aid, she takes no risks, tying him to the bed and hiding his weapons before ministering to his injuries.
But Bethie's defenses cannot keep Nicholas Kenleigh from breaking down her emotional walls. The scars on his body speak of a violent past, but his gentleness, warmth, and piercing eyes arouse longings in her that she never imagined she had. As Nicholas and Bethie get caught-up in the French & Indian war, they reveal to each other both their hidden desires and their tortured secrets, and discover that riding the flames of their passion might be the key to burning away the nightmare of their pasts.
Why I read this book: I'm a long-time fan of Clare's and bought the e-book the week it was published.
She’s also not afraid to write damaged characters, which is exactly what we get with Nicholas and Bethie. Nicholas has been tortured by Indians and living as a solitary frontiersman ever since. Bethie grew up being sexually abused and is newly widowed and heavily pregnant, living alone on the frontier. Their first meeting involves Nicholas holding a gun to Bethie’s head. Cue lots of intense character growth and a beautiful love story interwoven with historic conflicts.
From an editorial standpoint, I always know that a Pamela Clare book will be grammatically well written, no doubt due to her years spent as a journalist and editor of a newspaper. My own editor's hat stayed on the shelf, which made for a refreshing change to get to read as just a reader.
Favorite quote: “Men who hurt women are my favorite men to kill. Touch her and I'll send you straight to hell – with a smile on my face!”
Series: Ride the Fire is the third book in the Blakewell/Kenleigh Family trilogy.
Publication: Originally published in 2005, this book was re-released by Berkley Sensation on February 5th 2013 with new content, including an epilogue. Available as MMP and ebook.
Similar reading: The author has said it was while writing this book that she truly found her voice. I'm so glad, because Clare’s next historical series, MacKinnon’s Rangers, has the same gritty feel and colonial setting, but it’s even more history-centric, really bringing the early years of America to life. The bonus: Scottish highlanders added to the mix. Swoon! Other than the MacKinnon’s Rangers books, I really haven’t read anything comparable in historical setting, which is a shame. It's so refreshing to read a historical novel that isn't part of the industry cookie-cutter range of periods.