2009 TBR Challenge (September): Ride the Fire

September 16, 2009 at 1:14 pm 16 comments

This is September’s TBR Challenge review:

Ride the Fire (Blakewell/Kenleigh Family trilogy, book 3) by Pamela Clare

The Great Western Drive2009 tbr-challengeThis is one of those books that I’d heard about for ages (especially from KristieJ!) before I picked it up at the ubs, and installed in on my tbr shelf. And there it languished, passed over for more recent, shinier acquisitions.

Then, KrisiteJ, Wendy and Sybil decided to hold The Great Western Drive. At the end of this week-long extravaganza celebrating the glory that is Western-themed romance, I read Kristie’s post which urged readers to make a commitment to read a Western romance. This got the wheels in my mind turning, and I figured I’d do a twofer: TBR Challenge AND The Great Western Drive’s “Read a Western.”

(OK, technically, Ride the Fire does not take place in the Western United States, but it is a historical “frontier” novel which takes place during the 1760’s in what was then the western edge of Colonial America.)

Here’s the book description:

There was only one rule on the frontier — survival.
So when a wounded, buckskin-clad stranger appeared at the door of her isolated cabin, Elspeth Stewart felt no qualms about disarming him and then tying him to her bed. Newly widowed and expecting her first child, she had to protect herself at all costs. And Nicholas Kenleigh threatened not only her safety, but her peace of mind. The terrible scars on his body spoke of a tortured past, but his gentle touch and burning gaze awoke longings she had never expected to feel. Bethie had every reason in the world to distrust men; the cruelty she suffered at their hands had marked her soul, though her blonde beauty showed no sign of it. But little by little she found herself believing in Nicholas, in his honor, his strength. As he brought her baby into the world, then took both mother and daughter into his care, she realized this scarred survivor could heal her wounded spirit, and together they would . . . Ride the Fire
Ride the Fire
I’m so glad I listened to Kristie and picked this up, and the she, Wendy, and Sybil really pulled out all the stops for The Great Western Drive to encourage reading a Western romance!

I love a tortured hero, and boy, I don’t often mean literally tortured, but Nicholas is the epitome of one, in every sense. While it was  difficult to read the details of how Nicholas suffered at the hands of the Wyandot, it was restricted to the prologue, and completely necessary to completely understand Nicholas’ frame of mind through most of the story. He’s a man who has been so badly damaged by his experiences years before that by the time he encounters Bethie, he is almost dead inside.

Bethie, too, was a really interesting heroine. She was a great combination of emotional vulnerability and amazing resiliency. She, also, has a past in which she has suffered at the hands of others. And while she is still dealing with the emotional effects of her experiences, she is also doing what she can to provide a life for herself and her unborn child.

One of my favorite things about this book was how Bethie and Nicholas come together while working on her farm, establishing a rhythm to their days, and slowly opening up to the other. Of course, the birth of Bethie’s daughter ties them together even more, and it’s through Nicholas’ growing attachment to Bethie and Belle that he slowly comes back to life.

There was a great balance between romance and obviously well-researched history, making the story something I could really sink my teeth into. I loved how Pamela Clare seamlessly wove together Nicholas and Bethie’s story with actual historical events and figures.

Now, while I was reading it, I kept picturing Daniel Day-Lewis as Nicholas (ala Last of the Mohicans.) I dropped a line to KristieJ asking if she had suggested that in the post I had read way back, and yes, her casting of DD-L must’ve stuck in my subconscious. He really does make a great Nicholas.

While this is the last of a trilogy, and it was obvious who the other previous two books were about, Ride the Fire stood alone really well, and I never felt like I was missing information about the story.

So thanks, ladies for holding The Great Western Drive, and reminding me that historical romance doesn’t necessarily HAVE to take place in Regency England. Now, I can move Ride the Fire from it’s former place on my tbr shelf and over to my keeper shelf.

  • Pamela Clare’s site.

Entry filed under: 2009 Book Challenges, 2009 TBR Challenge, Historical Romance. Tags: , , , .

This ‘n’ That Monday, again

16 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Keishon  |  September 16, 2009 at 3:20 pm

    Oh, awesome. I have this book in my tbr pile! So, thank you for reminding me. I hope to squeeze into my tbr challenge for this year. Only three months left for this year’s challenge! Where does the time go…thanks!

  • 2. Lea  |  September 16, 2009 at 4:14 pm

    Wasn’t the Great Western Drive fun Renee? I got involved too and read two great stories.

    Wonderful review as always and I LOVED Daniel Day Lewis in Last of the Mohicans one of my favorite all time movies.

    Thanks for sharing!

    • 3. Renee  |  September 16, 2009 at 8:55 pm

      Keishon: Hope you get a chance to get to it before the year is out! Yes, it has flown. I still have a couple of books I had told myself I’d read on this challenge, but haven’t gotten to yet.

      Lea: It sure was, Lea!
      DDL sure does have the intensity to play Nicholas. Wouldn’t a movie of this be wonderful?

  • 4. sybil  |  September 16, 2009 at 4:23 pm

    “is a historical “frontier” novel which takes place during the 1760’s in what was then the western edge of Colonial America”

    I said that! I mention this somewhere… I think in the interview part we did (my part was horrid, hate that stuff) but LOVE this book muchly.

    So hope you read it Keishon.

    Good lord between the site redo, then redo (don’t ask) and my laptop dying I still have posts for this. eek AND am looking at your copy of Turners Woman… will take tomorrow ::promise::

    You should just come visit and fix my laptop, you are all computer smart right *eg*.

  • 5. sybil  |  September 16, 2009 at 4:26 pm

    LOL ok never mind I am thinking of a different Renee… sorry I don’t have a copy of Turner’s Woman for you. le sigh but I do need to draw names for the prizes so hey you never know…

    ignore me… it has been a long month. ::head desk::

    • 6. Renee  |  September 16, 2009 at 8:51 pm

      Phew! I thought I was losing my mind there for a moment! :-P
      Yes, I’m aka the “other Renee” (I actually think Kristie has referred to me as Renee 2 ;-)

      Thanks for dropping by!

  • 7. orannia  |  September 16, 2009 at 7:16 pm

    Ohhh, the more I hear about Pamela Clare’s books the more I want tor read them! I love that era!

    Hmmm, I really think this weekend I’m going to dig out some Christmas Western anthologies and re-read some of my favourite stories :)

  • 8. KristieJ  |  September 16, 2009 at 7:30 pm

    Wasn’t this one grand?!?!?! Now you know why it’s one of my top ever books. I thought she did an excellent job too of melding history with romance. And I found the writing so vivid it was easy to picture it while I was reading it – WITH DDL as the hero – heh heh heh heh.

  • 9. Wendy  |  September 16, 2009 at 8:24 pm

    I read this one a few months back. Before RWA, and before I saw Kristie in person again, so she would have one less TBR book to nag me about :)

    This wasn’t a keeper for me, but I did think it was very, very good – and a very worthwhile read.

    I do consider this book a western – although technically it’s a colonial – mostly because at one point in American history the west was east of the Mississippi. Kentucky, Tennessee, Ohio, Michigan – all were pretty wild and untamed during that time period.

  • 10. Renee  |  September 16, 2009 at 9:06 pm

    orannia: I know you love characters that have shown themselves to be survivors, and Nicholas and Bethie surely are.
    Have fun with your athologies! :-)

    KristieJ: Thanks so much for the recommendation! Yes, the history is very central to the story, but never gets in the way of it.
    You’re right. it was a story that was really easy to visualize. That doesn’t always happen, but it must be due to PC’s s storytelling skills.

    Wendy: LOL. Nothing like a little friendly peer pressure, isn’t there?
    Yes, it’s funny cause it really felt like a Western so much that it didn’t even occur to me until I was almost done writing this review that it might not really be a western, and I had to add that little thing about it being a “frontier” book. But, yes, we’ll say it is.

  • 11. Rosie  |  September 16, 2009 at 9:08 pm

    Word SL. Go Renee this is a fan favorite. Can you tell?

  • 12. Carolyn Crane (CJ)  |  September 17, 2009 at 6:39 am

    Whoa, I remember reading about this book. Mmm. Everybody is reading Pamela Clare right now! And thanks to your review, now I want to, too. I’m a sucker for heroines tying up the heroes ever since KISS of a Demon King.

  • 13. Leslie  |  September 17, 2009 at 5:24 pm

    Wonderful review Renee. :)

    I love Clare’s historicals. I started reading her RS which are very good too. Then read Ride the Fire and loved it! Her Mackinnon’s Ranger’s series is very good too. Surrender and Untamed, not sure when the third book is due out.

    • 14. Lori  |  September 17, 2009 at 10:50 pm

      I love this series, too, Leslie!! Can’t wait for Connor’s story.

  • 15. Lori  |  September 17, 2009 at 10:50 pm

    I do love this trilogy. Howsomever… I cannot (and will not) picture DDL as Nicholas. I’m just not a huge fan, although I admit he’s a terrific actor. He’s just not my type. And I wouldn’t want to spoil Nicholas for myself. Just sayin’…

  • 16. Hilcia  |  September 18, 2009 at 7:33 am

    Renee this one sounds great. I’ve only read Clare’s contemporaries and I loved them and I have Surrender on my TBR pile (McKinnon series #1). I guess I’ll have to slowly make my way around her back list. :)


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