The Fires of Paradise, by Brenda Joyce
This is the best historical romance I have read in years. There is the beautiful woman born into privilege and there is the hardened escaped convict watching his back. The two are thrown together at random, but stay in each others orbit through circumstance and lust. Lucy is a proud woman who is used to getting what she wants and Shoz is a proud man used to getting what he wants. What they both want is each other.
Shoz goes to work for Lucy’s grandfather until he is shot in the back. He is then thrown in jail for a crime he didn’t commit and he takes Lucy as a hostage to escape. They travel from Texas to Death Valley, where Lucy meets his son and is forced to work for a woman who despises her. Eventually Lucy and Shoz marry, but they are forced apart by her family after they are discovered. There is more adventure in a Cuba on the brink of rebellion and in New York, where Lucy’s reputation is ruined.
While I’ve always known I like my romantic heroes manly and flawed, the first chapter in the book goes further than even I was comfortable with in introducing us to the hero, Shoz. I wasn’t sure that he could be redeemed. This is also not a book for the politically correct. When reading I was jarred by the use of the word rape and had to keep reminding myself it meant to ravish or plunder.
If you are a fan of historical romances then this book if for you. It is also a part of the Bragg saga if you are familiar with Brenda Joyce. I’m looking forward to reading more from the series.
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