In fact, the truly great romance novelists are better authors than many of the critically acclaimed, award-winning authors of general fiction that I have read. These authors (the good ones) have just as much capacity for symbolism and social commentary as the latest Booker Prize winner. For instance, a romance most focus on the hero/heroine relationship and end with a "happily ever after." My long and drawn out point is that Laura Kinsale is one of the truly excellent romance writers who I refer to. This Kinsale novel, Seize the Fire, is one of her better ones.
Dragons have a particular taste for a sweet and helpless royal highness." "I thought that was what the hero was for," she said tartly. And we heroes weren't created just for the convenience of some feather-headed princess gone astray. It's just rescue the princess and live happily ever after. Best damn anti-hero ever written.
He is a scoundrel, a lying low-life, a common thief, a blackguard, a cad and he should be boiled in a vat of hot oil for his self-serving ways. But really he is so much more than all that The h is a chubby princess- idealistic, naïve and dim witted with it-no other way to put it. So when the wide-eyed ingénue turns to the scoundrel for help, he naturally tries to hatch the perfect plan to take advantage of her.
Edit: This book isn't perfect - let's get that out of the way first. After having read three novels by Kinsale, I'm coming to understand that she tends to shove A LOT into 400 pages. She was ridiculously naive and I had a hard time connecting with her. Luckily, the Hero - Sheridan, (well, anti-Hero), was so fascinating, amazingly dryly funny, and a delight to read so I stuck with it - and I am so glad I did. Do you mind if I play it for a little while?" "Oh, God." Our Heroine grows a spine (for those who have read the The Fever Series by Karen Marie Moning, I was reminded a lot of Mac's character development over the first five books - going from an annoying girl to a competent woman) in a fantastic fashion that made me whoop out loud. Often I will be reading a historical romance and a character will make mention of a ridiculously small time frame - i.e. Thankfully, Kinsale lets her characters grow and fall in love within a more natural time table. Sheridan is one of my favorite Heroes of all the time. For the first bit of this book I didn't consider it to be a historical romance, instead it was a character study into a truly charming cad of the highest order. Kinsale writes him in such a way that you know he is not truly being cruel, despite his horrific actions, and each page offers the opportunity to discover his true motivations. Sheridan closed his eyes. Too often in historical romances you have rakish men committing sins against their Heroines who then accept them back because it was only caused by a dark past, or some such. I know I can't." He said nothing, no arguments, no advice or encouragement. "We can't live without that knife." "I won't let you fall," he said quietly. "I will." He took her face in his hands and kissed her hard. I just know this one would improve upon a second or third pass - and I confess, I would not mind spending some more time with Sheridan.
What I loved about the book (and what earned this book 4 stars in my book): CHARACTERIZATION all the way Sheridan (38) and Olympia (24?) are by no means the usual character types you see in this genre. She made Sheridan and Olympia dear and sweet in their own authentic ways. Olympia the character really owed everything to Sheridan. I could not NOT see Olympia as Sheridan saw her: his princess. For any writer who wants to write a "plain" heroine, please take a lesson from Laura Kinsale. It is ok if you want to write about a plain girl, but please let me see through the hero's eyes. I saw Olympia through Sheridan's eyes, a woman of his own heart. One outrageous event after another, I watched Sheridan and Olympia pull themselves through this muddy book. Now I got imaginary mud on my hand because I couldn't stop myself from getting into the mud with Sheridan and Olympia.
I read this a while back and haven't had time to write a full review. I felt emotionally exhausted by the time Id finished reading this book.
But then we have the heroine and the story. At one point of the story, Sheridan went to great length to build them a cover, and she blew it on a whim.
The first time I read Seize the Fire was last year, shortly after finishing my first (and still favorite) book by Laura Kinsale, Flowers from the Storm, and I have to admit -- I just didn't get it. Then I read Seize the Fire, with its exiled princess heroine, its cynical sea captain hero, its high seas adventures and pirates and desert islands; with its long treks across Middle Eastern deserts, its sultans, slaves, and harems, its Ruritarian coup d'etat. Many of Kinsale's books take plots, characters, and settings to wild extremes -- that's kind of her thing, and in truth it's pretty wonderful. In fact, it grew to be one of the things I loved most about her stories, that unpredictability, and the grand adventures that accompanied the romances of heroes and heroines as they swept from the sands of Arabia to the Hawaiian islands, from Provence to Tahiti, from pirate ships to English country manors. So, I read this book again -- listened to the audiobook narrated by Nicholas Boulton, actually -- and this time I liked it much, much more than I had before. The crazy twists and turns of plot and setting seemed like good things, not bad, and I got completely wrapped up in the emotional journey of Olympia and Sheridan. The end of the book, while very touching, felt a bit abrupt; I would've appreciated spinning out the story of what happened to Sheridan and Olympia just a little bit more.
Well, I had some feelings about this book, which seemed like it was really multiple adventure-romances Vulcan mind-melded together into one totally next-level insane adventure-romance. Sheridan just got out of the Navy and is totally broke. Okay, things in no order: *Man, the parts where Sheridan is obsessed with Olympia's body totally worked for me. It's weird how rarely you actually get this in historical romances - there's a lot of the hero thinking that the lady is very attractive, but not as much of him feeling compelled to bite her flesh as you'd think, you know what I mean? *All of that said, I totally liked Sheridan and Olympia, and I'm not really sure how Kinsale pulled this off. I felt kind of like maybe it would have worked better for me to have about a third of the adventure and save the rest for other books, but what do I know, I am not a romance wizard. *I kind of felt at a couple of moments like this book had weird feminist elements.
She become a romance writer after six years as a geologist--a career which consisted of getting out of bed in the middle of the night and driving hundreds of miles alone across west Texas to sit drilling rigs, wear a hard hat, and attempt to boss around oil-covered males considerably larger than herself.