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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A FANTASTIC CONCLUSION TO A TERRIFIC SERIES
Talk about one series I hate to see end! I've been enjoying Susan Wiggs's books for years, and have loved her series, but this one has topped them all. It was so enjoyable on so many levels it's hard to know where to begin.
A heroine who's a bookseller and a feminist - Lucy is a heroine any reader would be hard pressed not to identify with. There's one particular...
Published on April 3, 2001 by Maudeen Wachsmith

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Where was the romance?
The characters were very much different. Rand clearly didn't like Lucy. Lucy was too hung up on feminist issues. When they did get married (for convience of course)she seemed more concerned with being a feminist than a wife. She was bossy. Oh and then they had sex. The ending tied up nicely, but there was cleary something missing along the way-the romance and the love...
Published on October 16, 2011 by Amazon Customer


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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A FANTASTIC CONCLUSION TO A TERRIFIC SERIES, April 3, 2001
Talk about one series I hate to see end! I've been enjoying Susan Wiggs's books for years, and have loved her series, but this one has topped them all. It was so enjoyable on so many levels it's hard to know where to begin.
A heroine who's a bookseller and a feminist - Lucy is a heroine any reader would be hard pressed not to identify with. There's one particular scene where Lucy is talking to one of her customers who is disparaging dime novels without ever having read one that had me sitting up and cheering. (Does this sound familiar, romance readers?) She even recommends books which will be vaguely familiar to romance fans.
A hero who is bitter and lonely but as gentle and as nice as they come and who wants to put his daughter's needs first - that's Rand. He's a successful banker who has had some terrible tragedies in life including the loss of his infant daughter in the Chicago Fire and then his wife leaving him, the palatial home he built for her remaining mostly empty.
What reader won't be able to have their heart simply torn from their chest with Lucy's decision to give up custody of her daughter? Sure, Rand is Maggie's biological father, but Lucy has cared for her for the past five years and is the only mother Maggie has known.
And prepare for a beautifully-written scene from Maggie's point of view as she meets her father for the first time in five years.
This is a fitting conclusion to the Chicago Fire Trilogy which began with THE HOSTAGE , and then THE MISTRESS. THE FIREBRAND stands alone just fine, but I believe readers will enjoy THE FIREBRAND even more having read the first two books in the series - and particularly one scene which is told from different points of view in each of the books.
Well done, thanks Susan for another terrific Series!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "The Fire Brand" is a great finale!, April 6, 2001
Loved the first two in this series, "The Hostage" and "The Mistress", and this, the third and final novel in the group I believe is my personal favorite. Hated to see the last page come up in each book in this triology of events that began with the castastrophic Chicago fire of 1871.
"The Fire Brand" is the name of the bookstore that the unconventional, independent Lucy Hathaway opens after the fire has taken the life of her father and his assets, leaving her mother and herself almost destitute. The bookstore is not only her livelihood but her dream of making her own way in life. Despite what the fire took from her, it gave her something she never expected to have in life. A baby literally fell into her arms! During the fire as she was trying to get herself to safety, she happened to look up toward a window in a burning hotel in time to see a bundle dropped from the window just before that floor was engulfed in flames. The bundle of securely tied pillows and blankets held a baby in the core of what was obviously meant to be protective wrapping for the infant. Unable to find the parents of the child, she took her into her home, her heart and raised her with all the love a child could have.
Five years later fate brings Lucy, her child and Rand Higgins, the natural father of rumbunctious 5 year old Maggie together and leaves a nest of confusion for all concerned in their attempt to resolve who will raise the adorable, precocious little girl.
Life has been difficult for both Lucy and Rand, and with quite a bit of conflict involved in their attempts to come to an agreeable solution that will keep both of them involved in Maggie's life they find more happiness then they ever thought possible.
Suan Wiggs is a master at combining history with fiction and an extra large helping of romance together for a spectacular read! I wish there were more novels to look forward to in this series.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Leads..., April 15, 2001
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Lucy Hathaway saves a baby, the night of the Chicago fire. Unable to find out anything about the baby's parents, she adopts her, and names her Maggie.
Rand Higgins is horribly injured and disfigured, the night of the Chicago fire. His wife leaves him and Chicago, and he believes his child, Christine, is dead.
Five years later, Lucy owns a bookstore, The Firebrand, and nees a loan. She meets with a banker, Rand, and discovers the child she has adopted is his Christine. She decides to tell Rand of her discovery, in spite of her deep love for Maggie. The dilemma between the two, Lucy and Rand--deciding what's best for Maggie.
Lucy is a suffragist, a fighter for equal rights for all, especially women. Because of his past, Rand has a natural, and understandable distrust for women. In my mind, Ms. Wiggs bringing these two disparate people together in a believable way, is what makes this book so good. Neither character's true self is sacrificed to bring this book to a HEA for all involved. Lucy, Rand, and Maggie are wonderful characters. And even secondary characters like Rand's grandmother, Lucy's mother seem to walk off the pages of THE FIREBRAND.
My only complaint with THE FIREBRAND would be that I, personally, would have liked to read more about the romance and relationship between Rand and Lucy. And, I do prefer books with a little more sensuality. Otherwise, this book was perfect.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent romance set at the time of the great fire in Chicago, December 15, 2006
I'm an Englishwoman and I didn't know a thing about the great fire that destroyed Chicago in 1871 - didn't know there had been a fire at all. This book is set just before, during and five years after that monumental event and the build-up to it, the description of the wooden buildings, factories, straw and hay and all the other dangers contributing to that tragedy is very well described.

Our heroine, Lucy Hathaway, is a crusading woman working for the rights of women in society. She's nothing special to look at and generally ignored by men which isn't a great problem to her. Until she meets Randolph Higgins - although he disagrees with her revolutionary opinions she finds him incredibly attractive.

The fire sweeps through Chicago and Lucy finds herself looking after an orphan girl as her world collapses in the wake of the fire - she was from a rich family but all their money is lost after the fire. But five years on as the proud mother to Maggie she meets up with Randolph Higgins, still mourning the death of his daughter in the fire and having suffered a difficult divorce. Randolph wants his daughter back - what should Lucy do?

I've read one other book by Susan Wiggs (The Charm School) and that, too, was excellently written. Wiggs excels at painting a picture of a different time with different social expectations. Unlike so many historical novels, her characters don't think with 21st century minds, even if they are forward-thinkers in their own times. The description of life after the fire was very well done, as was the contrast between the rich and the poor in Chicago. She approaches the different emotions that each of the characters have very well - they slowly learn to understand each other. The descriptions of the decisions that Randolph has to take in accommodating to his wife's rather strident feminist views which affect his job are well written. My one quibble is that their love blossoms surprisingly quickly within a very argumentative and difficult relationship, but it's still a very enjoyable book to read.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A weeper - the best kind of romance!, March 29, 2002
By 
dreamweaver25 "Taryn" (Hightstown, NJ United States) - See all my reviews
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This story moved me so much, I cried through most of it. It is a love story but not just romantic love, it's about what love can do to bring out the best in people. The characters are very carefully detailed, so you understand and appreciate what motivates them. They are very much "of their time" but in many ways the story still resonates to us modern women. I wouldn't rate this high on the sensuality scale, but for a great read that you won't put down, and will move you deeply, definitely pick up a copy of this book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Title, Nice Cover and As Always...Great Content..., May 4, 2006
By 
Bridget "B.A.D.T." (Grand Rapids, Michigan) - See all my reviews
This is the fourth novel by SW that I have read in the past year. I also read "Miranda" (pretty good) and "The Horsemaster's Daughter" & "A Summer Affair" both excellent stories which tied into one another.

I have bought quite a few more of SW's novels recently as I feel she is an excellent writer and she clearly has a strong and loyal fan base. After a few books, I can see why. She is enormously gifted in the areas of developing characters, describing locations and scenes and taking the reader away to another place with her well chosen words and ideas. It is refreshing to find so talented a writer in this day and age of mass produced books and novels. I personally lean toward more historical books so, those I have selected still to read are The Charm School, The Mistress, The Hostage, Drifter, The Lightkeeper, Enchanted Afternoon and Halfway to Heaven. I may eventually buy her other more contemporary stories once I run out of the historical romances.

In this most recent book I read, "The Firebrand", I found both the setting, plot line and characters appealing and interesting. The author selected the historical fire set in Chicago in the late 1800's as the main fascinating topic. Through her words and descriptions, you could feel the devastation that such a catastrophe created with old wooden buildings like tinder boxes, lack of fire departments and easy to find water and traditional means of living in high rise locations as rent/costs were cheaper the higher up you lived so, escape became impossible for most people. SW showed how fire could turn a major city into rubble within a few hours of burning and how entire families were wiped out in one day. A terrible tragedy brought to life again in the 21st century.

The author developed the all important question of "what if one survived such a loss...how would/could life be after?" SW allowed this deep and moving question to be posed to two important characters in the book - Lucy and Rand. Both had blessed lives before the fire - money, status, looks, loving families and a strong history. After the fire, the learned how to deal with loss of life, loss of money, loss of friends and loss of looks. Fortunately, Lucy always had that "I am woman hear me roar" attitude going on which kept her feisty even in the toughest of circumstances. She in turned, challenged Rand into believing he could do and be more as well. Their paths crossed before the fire and then again after the fire due to a shared love of one small child - Maggie/Christine. The love of parents for their child was wonderful to read in this story - how sacrifices are made, boundaries set and spirits allowed to blossom and grow - regardless of what society says. Their coming together as individuals and then a family was a beautiful thing.

I would have liked the story to focus a little more on the development of Lucy and Rand's love and passion for one another. Lots of the book focused on the custody issue of Maggie/Christine, Lucy's book store and constant marches and fights for woman's rights and Rand's work at the bank. Although all these outside circumstances were important to the story...more interaction, depth and emotion between Rand and Lucy would have been nice. This author is always limited in her physical interaction between couples and instead focuses heavily on the emotional and spiritual connections which last and matter more. So...nothing lost there. But...even some of the emotional connection was missing in this book as so many other things were going on in this story that took up some of the "love story's" place. It wasn't even until the very end of the book that you felt confident that Lucy and Rand could make their marriage a real go and that they loved each other enough to fend off outside influences (an ex-wife, society looking down on a open minded woman, a woman running her own business, etc). I would have liked to feel this strength of conviction and commitment a bit earlier in the book. I read for "love" after all so....I like to end a book and know it commanded my feelings completely. Love was there but, it was a little lacking at times in this book. But...not enough to warrant any real criticism.

Many side characters in this book were appealing - Lucy's friends Kathleen/Dylan, Phoebe/English Nobleman, Debra/Tom and the other friends and family members that were brought in now and then (Lucy's father - The Colonel, Lucy's mother, Rand's ex-wife Diana, women from the bookstore etc.). These secondary characters, although not deep and intriguing (as some have their own books elsewhere in the series) played important parts to the story as well.

I am looking forward to future reads by this author. She always knows how to please the reader from start to finish. If you have not read this author yet - what are you waiting for? If you already know of her and read some of her books...lucky you. Happy reading to all!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sizzles with excitement, like the fire itself, May 5, 2001
By 
shirley lieb (Chicago, Illinois United States) - See all my reviews
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I could not put down this third book in the Chicago Fire trilogy. I had to admire Lucy. She was a woman ahead of her time, both in her views of women's rights, but as well as racial issues. She had a deep and abiding trust and regard for her African American friend Patience, who is a reverend.
Lucy and Rand had eyes for each other since the night of the fire. The only thing stopping their relationship that night was the presence of Diana. If you read closely you can see the relationship develop subtley. He wanted real love but thought his scars made him hideous. Lucy craved love, but was afraid to show it. Afraid it would hamper her crusade for women's voting.
They were wonderful characters and they way they handled little Maggie and how she brought them together makes it a heartwarming story not soon to be forgotten.
Ms. Wiggs has also done her homework as far as the Chicago Fire is concerned. Being born and raised here, it was something we learned about in school. All her facts are true and she has very nicely included some of the Chicagoans of that time in some cameo roles.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I'd give it 10+ stars if I could...., May 5, 2001
By A Customer
This is everything I could want in a book, centered around life's most wrenching choice of all. After rescuing a baby from a fire, Lucy (an endearing suffragette bookseller in 1876 Chicago) raises her for her very own. When her business starts to fail, she goes to the stuffiest, meanest banker in town for a loan and, she sees a photograph of an infant in his office and knows it's her own Maggie. WHAT WOULD YOU DO IF YOU WERE LUCY???
I couldn't do a thing until I read to find out.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great story!, August 11, 2008
By 
Leonna Burns "MLB" (Saginaw, Texas United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
I love how Susan Wiggs encorporated the Chicago Fire into this story! I never, ever, thought about the day and what people may have dealt with. I was so drawn in I couldn't put it down. Great job!

I love how she wove together a great story of humanity in the loss of loved ones, the fidelity and healing power of friends, family relations, and love.

When Randolph lost his baby girl, and then tragically his wife as well, he was simply devestated. Five years later he is withdrawn and has poured himself into his job as a prominent banker.

Lucy Hathaway was a fun-loving, high spirited, and unconventional young woman for her time. Rescuing the infant child from a burning building changed her life, but not her style. As the owner of a bookstore, the Firebrand, aptly named for her open mindedness, she remains the high spirited person but with responsiblities now. After seeking for the parents of the child or any living relative, she doesn't have the heart to leave the child in an orphanage, and opts to raise her.

Five years after the fire, she is financially in need and goes to the bank to get a loan extention. There, she is reunited with Randolph, but more importantly, she sees a picture of his infant child he thought died in the fire! She is faced with wether to tell him that Maggie is alive or just let him keep believing she is dead. An awesome and heartfelt story ensues!

Travel back in time to watch how these peoples lives change for the better, and see what it might have been like to be an unconventional and independent woman, and for what society did to all those who backed them. Very interesting, and heart warming. I LOVED the part where they informed Maggie that she was going to live with Randolph. I was so there and literally burst out laughing at Maggie's reaction. Great character building in this book again, Susan! And, I loved the ending. I could have read on and on and on!

Yes, I do recommend this book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The third in the Cihicago Fire Series..., November 7, 2002
This is the third story of SW's Chicago Fire Tragedy. In this story the super rich Lucy winds up with a baby in her arms after it is tossed out a window of a hotel.
She ends up raising the girl as her daughter. Then 5 years later while she is going into the bank for her loan extension on her bookshop she determines that the parents of her little Maggie are not dead after all.
I really enjoyed how they talked about strong women and their marches etc. to get the right to vote and how it was not only unpopular but in some cases not even very safe for all those who are close to them. You will also see Kathleen and Debra (from books 1 & 2) at different parts of the book.
It is a romance story so yes there is a happy ending with a new family etc... I liked this one 2nd, I still like Debra's story the best.
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The Firebrand (Chicago Fire Trilogy)
The Firebrand (Chicago Fire Trilogy) by Susan Wiggs (Mass Market Paperback - August 31, 2010)
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