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The Firebrand Mass Market Paperback – August 1, 2003
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Setting: Chicago 1871
In one catastrophic night, unconventional debutante Lucy Hathaway meets and propositions powerful banker Randolph Higgins, risks her life to save a baby girl, then loses her father and the family fortune in the chaos of the great Chicago fire. Five years later, she's older, wiser, and the proud owner of The Firebrand, a bookstore that caters to suffragettes and free thinkers. Fate throws her once again into the path of Randolph Higgins when she must apply to his bank for an extension on the loan that financed her bookstore. She discovers that Randolph is now a scarred, bitter, divorced man, and that he believes his daughter died in the fire. One glance at the photo on his desk tells her that Maggie, the child she saved and adopted that terrible night, is his lost daughter.
Lucy's strong sense of honor drives her to tell Randolph the truth. Now the conservative banker and the fiercely independent Lucy must deal with each other for Maggie's sake. Despite the resulting clash of wills and differing political views, the powerful attraction that drew them together five years earlier still exists. Can these two stubborn, opinionated people find a way to nurture a life together, for the sake of Maggie and their own battered hearts?
The Firebrand pits a strong heroine reluctant to abandon her independence against a hero grounded in traditional concepts of marriage and female roles. The rich details of life in 1870s Chicago, well-developed secondary characters, and the exploration of the women's suffrage movement all add up to making The Firebrand a rare treat. This third and final novel in Susan Wiggs's Chicago Fire trilogy will delight fans and new readers alike.--Lois Faye Dyer --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
From Publishers Weekly
The great Chicago fire of 1871 is the catalyst for a story that deftly portrays a romance against the backdrop of the budding suffrage movement. Despite Lucy Hathaway's aristocratic background, her fiery political views and unconventional attitudes make her a social outsider. Nevertheless, she feels unexpectedly drawn to handsome banker Rand Higgins until she discovers that he's married to a dainty china doll of a woman. The fire changes everything, however, badly injuring Rand, estranging his wife and depriving Lucy of her father and her wealth. In the strangest twist of all, Rand's infant daughter, presumed dead in the fire, lands in Lucy's arms and is raised as an orphan. Although fate brings Lucy and Rand together again, the obstacles to their growing passion seem almost insurmountable. Both attempt to obtain custody of the child, and Lucy's association with the suffragists enrages Rand's banking colleagues. With this final installment of Wiggs's Chicago Fire trilogy (which also includes The Mistress), she has created a quiet page-turner that will hold readers spellbound as the relationships, characters and story unfold. Fans of historical romances will naturally flock to this skillfully executed trilogy, and general women's fiction readers should find this story enchanting as well. (Apr.)
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
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!
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.
"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.