Desert Isle Keeper
Streets of Fire
I picked up a copy of Streets of Fire on the recommendation of Sandi Morris, AAR’s technical editor. She told me to expect a heavy read, but a good one. She was right.
Sydney Foster is a successful businesswoman who has dabbled a bit in lost causes over the years. Her own history is as painful as it is shady – she was a teen prostitute who eventually escaped the streets with the help of her madam. Fifteen years ago she had an extremely intense affair with Nick Novak, a Calgary vice cop. By that time she was legit, but her past and all of its emotional ramifications interfered in her relationship, and she was left heartbroken.
Two years ago Nick’s cover was blown during a drug sting, and he was injured almost to the point of death. He now has limited use of his left hand and leg, and he spends most of his days in physical therapy working to become more mobile. Unbeknownst to him, Sydney has been financing his experimental medical treatments. When he finds out about her involvement, he goes to confront her, and the sparks fly between them again.
By now they are both older and wiser, but many of the issues that contributed to their break-up still exist, and complicating matters is Sydney’s interest in a teen prostitute named Jenny. Jenny’s very existence reminds both Sydney and Nick of what Sydney used to be. Can they work through their problems this time around, or are they doomed to another blazing but brief romance?
Well, first of all, if you’re looking for light and lively, this is not your book. If you’re craving something funny and whimsical, go pick up a copy of Julia Quinn’s How to Marry a Marquis and avoid this book like the plague. Streets of Fire is loaded with angst and tormented characters. Almost all the characters have heavy, heavy baggage, the kind of stuff that just breaks your heart. Alcoholism, drug abuse, and child molestation are the kinds of things that these characters have had to deal with and survive.
Although the book deals with very heavy subject matter, it did not depress me. I think this was because the characters all had so much inner strength and nobility. For people with so much personal garbage, Sydney, Nick, and Jenny have a great deal of dignity. They are fighters. They may not always know what the right thing to do is, but when pointed in the right direction, they try their hardest to stay the course. And none of them spend their days wallowing in self-pity.
This book packs a real punch in terms of sheer emotional impact. Sydney and Nick did not break up all those years ago because they didn’t love each other. Lack of emotion was never an issue for them. So when they meet again and are able to get past their initial hurt and anger, those old, incredibly intense feelings resurface. They need each other. They crave each other so much that you really feel the depth of their attachment. The relationship between Sydney and Jenny is likewise very touching. Sydney sees herself in Jenny, and that requires her to do the important soul-searching she has dodged for so many years. When she does this, she can open herself up to Jenny, and that is so good for both of them.
I also liked the fact that the author doesn’t give tidy solutions to the problems that these people have. We may not see every moment of their recoveries, but Judith Duncan makes it very clear that this will be a long and careful process for them. There are no easy answers for them, but they are strong enough characters to build their own happy endings.
Streets of Fire is not an easy read. It’s not one that I will most likely re-read as a pick-me up on a hard day or one that I will flip through looking for fun dialogue. But it is a keeper. I read this one non-stop, and found it to be a riveting and very touching reading experience. If that’s the kind of book you like, I’d definitely give this one a try.