Brenda Joyce
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East meets West across time and tradition as three young American women and their Indian immigrant mothers take first steps toward true sisterhood, shattering secrets and sharing joy and tears in Brenda Joyce's

Buy *Firestorm* by Brenda Joyce online

Brenda Joyce
352 pages
January 2008
rated 2 of 5 possible stars

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In this historical romance set in 18th-century America, the improbably named Storm Bragg is sent by her family from their ranch in Texas to San Francisco to become a lady and, hopefully, marry a well-to-do man. Unfortunately, Storm's entire upbringing has been in the rough and tumble of the ranch, wrestling and brawling with her brothers, riding horses with tight breeches, and generally having a whale of a time far away from afternoon tea and polite evening entertainments.

Her introduction to society in San Francisco isn't very successful because of her inappropriate behavior, especially with eligible bachelor Brett D'Archand. Brett isn't in the market for a wife, and he knows that when he is, he will find someone elevated in society to attempt to mitigate his status as an illegitimate child of a Mexican landowner. His instant attraction to Storm scuppers his plans, and when they are forced to wed, he finds himself struggling with an unwilling bride - and one who doesn't provide the social status that he needs. He and Storm have a very stormy marriage, but when the chance comes for him to make some sort of peace with his father, Storm comes along for support. Brett's family are almost pantomime villains in their behavior, and Storm and Brett stumble from one misunderstanding to the next. Can they ever really understand each other and admit their true feelings?

The characterization in Firestorm is novel as neither hero or heroine are at all appealing. The hero seems promising initially, but his decision to visit his mistress on his wedding night is hardly heroic. He also threatens violence occasionally, spanks Storm from time to time, comes close to raping her, and seems bad tempered much of the time. Storm seems to waft along in a world of egocentricity, having no respect for those around her and their wishes, trampling all over her host and hostess's efforts to help her, vacillating as to what she feels for Brett, and generally behaving like a spoiled child. Perhaps her relative youth - she's just 17 - is some mitigation, but overall she appears to have nothing to her credit apart from her looks and skills at horsemanship.

This book was originally published twenty years ago, and it shows its age in terms of the interactions between hero and heroine. The threats of violence, rakishness and other behaviors that appeared to be acceptable in books published in the 1980s tend to leave a nasty taste in the mouths of modern readers, and there isn't enough plot or other characterization to overcome this problem. The setting and overall concept are interesting, but reading an entire book consisting of arguments and other spats between two selfish and egocentric people becomes tiresome.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at Helen Hancox, 2008

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