Friday, June 03, 2005

Review - Ride the Fire by Pamela Clare

Nicholas Kenleigh is a broken, guilt-ridden man. When he arrives at Bethie Stewart's cabin on the western frontier with a serious injury, she is eight months pregnant, a widow living alone. Together they set out on a desperate mission to warn settlers further east of an uprising by the native population.

While the pacing is good and the writing engaging, Bethie is less than convincing, an abuse survivor who protests Nicholas's help delivering her baby but then bares her breasts quite openly to nurse her child. Nor did I understand why instead of asking for Bethie's help Nicholas chose instead to threaten her. These character inconsistencies seriously detracted from the novel's strengths. Also, the last fifty pages appeared designed only to showcase historical characters and add one more rather forced element of conflict.

It's clear the author did a lot of research, which she incorporates into a vibrant setting. At times the realism is overly gritty, especially the extensive details of torture techniques of the Wyandot tribe. While I appreciated the author's dedication to historical realism, I wish she had written more believable characters and toned down the gory aspects of Nicholas's past.

© Teresa Eckford, 2005

This review first appeared in the May 2005 issue of The Historical Novels Review

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