Ride the Fire
Ride The Fire is a rather intriguing read and a sweet romance. Almost at odds with the sweet romance, though, are its graphic scenes of war and torture. This book is not for the faint of heart.
Elspeth Stewart lived a nightmare of a childhood, abused by her stepfather and stepbrother. She is almost relieved when she is married off to an older man, even though it means moving out west, away from the mother she loves. Elspeth’s husband is a kind man, but she feels no love for him. When he impregnants her and dies in the middle of the western wilds, Elspeth is left alone, ready to give birth and determined to live on her own. When a wounded stranger appears threatening her life and she realizes just how vulnerable she truly is.
Nicholas Kenleigh has seen horrors that one can not even imagine. He set out to save two fellow soldiers, only to be captured by the Wyandot. Saved because of his bravery and forced to marry one of the Wyandot women, he spent his days living with the people who took away his freedom, plotting the time when he will escape. Now, years later, Nicholas is a fur trader, traveling the west and live a life of seclusion. When Nicolas is injured in the middle of nowhere, he stumbles upon a cabin housing a single, pregnant young woman. With no other choice, Nicholas is forced to threaten the woman into helping him.
Elspeth and Nicholas settle into an uneasy arrangement, both working the settlement, waiting for Elspeth to give birth and Nicholas to heal. It is obvious that Elspeth does not trust him, but when she goes into labor, Elspeth must put aside her distrust so that Nicholas can help. Delivering Elspeth’s baby and living with the woman, he begins to remember the man he once was. The more time he spends with Elspeth and her little girl, the more he realizes that he can never leave her to fend for herself. When they are threatened by an old Wyandot enemy, Nicholas and Elspeth must escape to Fort Pitt in order to save their lives. But will Elspeth lose all trust in him when she finds out about his past? And will Nicholas turn his back on Elspeth when she admits her secret?
Ride The Fire begins with a rather graphic torture scene that many will find upsetting – and it’s not the only ghastly scene the reader is forced to endure. Native Americans are painted in a poor light throughout the story. Did they torture and kill settlers? Of course – we know that to be true just as we know that Europeans tortured and killed Native Americans (not to mention stealing their land and heritage). But while the author does mention the horrors endured by the Native Americans, the book focuses on the problems that Europeans faced, so much so that a fairly one-sided picture is presented to the reader. A lesser problem occurs when an evil relative from Elspeth’s past shows up. Although the horrors she endures at his hands are dreadful, the evil relative is clichéd and his appearance rather predictable.
Clare’s in-depth research for the book is obvious, and the sweetness of the love story told in the face of the storyline’s intense darkenss reminded me of the historicals I used to read rather than the light and frothy romances so common today. This, of course, can be good or bad, depending on your taste. I for one, was rather glad to read something different. Both the heroine and hero are extremely likable characters with pasts that make it easy to cheer for them. Even the baby aspect was done well and did not take away from the story, but instead added a sweetness to Nicholas. Although there are rather gruesome scenes, there is also no doubt that this provides suspense and keeps the reader enthralled until the very end.
No matter what your taste, the writing here is rather well done, the historical aspect well researched, and the love story deep and satisfying. Although historically accurate, by focusing on one aspect of the Wyandot culture, the book seemed one-sided. But if you can get past the reinforcement of stereotypes and the torture, and you love a book with a strong alpha male who is saved by the pure, strong heroine and her love, you will definitely enjoy this book.