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VINE VOICEon May 21, 2008
This is the third novel that I have read by Wiggs that follows the lives of some young women who had been touched by the Great Chicago Fire. This third one follows Lucy, the intellectual of the group, as her father dies and she loses all the assets she has lived with her whole life.

In the Great Fire Lucy saves a baby girl from certain death after a woman dropped the bundle out of the window of a burning hotel. The heroic gesture comes after a rather humiliating night of being rejected by a potential lover (Rand, who unknowingly was married, oops).

Lucy raises the child as her own (with the help of her own mother) and names the child Maggie. Several years later (where our story picks up again) Lucy meets again the married man she had hoped to take as a lover. She needs his help as a banker to extend the loan on her bookshop (named the Firebrand after the moniker earned to Miss Woodhull-Claflin for her views on woman's sufragette) and learns that her daughter Maggie is actually Rand's daughter Christine that he thought died in the Great Fire. Since then he was divorced by Maggie/Christine's birth mother and was living all alone with his scars.

Lucy really does not want to tell him about how she became Maggie's mother but does eventually because she knows that it is the right thing to do. Maggie likes her "new" father, but needs her mother too so Rand eventually "proposes" an arrangement. Literally a marriage. Since Lucy had liked him all along it turns into a difficult kind of 'I-want-to-but don't-want-him-to-think-I-do' situation.

It is sort of cute and awkward and not nearly as risque as some of Wiggs' work.
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on May 2, 2001
While I enjoyed this book, it seemed to be lacking something. Maybe it was the lack of development of the relationship between Lucy and Rand. I just don't see how they fell in love with each other. I did find Lucy a little annoying.
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on November 21, 2015
An enjoyable read
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on January 7, 2003
The thing I enjoyed most about this novel or the entire Chicago fire series is its background or premise. While a fire rages through Chicago, three friends who attend a finishing school together make decisions that help determine the paths of their lives.
In "The Firebrand", Lucy Hathaway, fleeing the fire, saves a baby dropped from the second story window of a hotel. When Lucy can't locate the parents, she adopts the girl. Five years later, she discovers that the baby's parents are alive, and is forced to make a heartwrenching decision.
For me, this book was a little too melancholy, and at times the sheer hugeness and potential sadness of the custody battle overshadowed or completely destroyed the romantic tension. Too much time was spent on background and clashes, and not enough time provided for the development of love between the protagonists. The romance part just wasn't convincing or hearwarming.
Although I appreciated the historical background, which I think is unique, and well done, this novel falls short on actual romance, which is bad since it's supposed to be a romance novel.
This book isn't bad, it's just unremarkable. If you want to read Wiggs, I suggest trying "The Charm School".
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on August 22, 2006
Some romance novels are so hard to critique. This is one of them. Part of me really liked it and part of me thought it was so/so. I really liked Maggie/Christine's character. I'm still not sure about Lucy & Rand. Never really enjoyed the men vs women aka. . . good vs evil aspect. Never really seemed to develop honestly for me.
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