SPOILER ALERT ⚠
This review is of Midnight Fires by Carol Finch.
Part One of Midnight Fires
Midnight Fires begins in a tavern in Bristol, England, circa 1812. Among the citizens, there is Glenna Lombard. Glenna is the sister of Norina Shaw, wife of Lord Edwin Shaw, whom Glenna wanted to marry. As a result, Glenna feels a deep hatred for her sister, who is far more well-off than she is.
We later meet Danielle Shaw, the heroine and one of Norina and Edwin’s children. They also have a son, David. Edwin is pushing Danielle to marry Thomas Seward, the son of one of his business associates. When Thomas tries to take too many liberties with Danielle, she rejects and embarrasses him publicly.
Humiliated by her rejection, Thomas conspires with Glenna and an evil pirate, Colby Morgan, to kidnap Danielle.
Danielle is rescued from Morgan’s ship by Travis Radbourne, an American sea captain, who has his own reasons for wanting to get revenge on Morgan.
Travis has many dilemmas with Danielle, not the least of which is that he can’t take her back to England as they are at war with the U.S. As they spend time together, Danielle and Travis become attracted to each other.
In an attempt to end the attraction, Travis takes Danielle to his tobacco plantation in North Carolina and enrolls her in boarding school. There is a considerable age difference between the pair. Danielle is much younger at 16 than Travis’s 31 years.
These efforts fail to end their attraction for each other. Soon after, Danielle and Travis become lovers.
After their intimacy, Travis leaves, partially out of guilt and partially because of the differences in their ages.
Part Two of Midnight Fires
He continues to fight the British and ends up wounded in one fight. Danielle then nurses him back to health.
While Travis was away, Danielle became engaged to Blair Ramsey, a son of a North Carolina banker. Travis makes it clear he disapproves of Blair–his dislike is justified–and eventually succeeds in breaking up their engagement and marrying Danielle himself.
While in America, Danielle makes some enemies, and those enemies try to do Danielle harm. They don’t succeed. When the war ends, Travis plans to take Danielle back to England to her family.
A lot has changed in the four years she’s been away. Glenna has ensconced her daughter, Annice, into the good graces of the Shaws’. Annice is married to Thomas. Glenna’s financial situation has improved.
And no one knows about her evil scheme. Or so she thinks.
Glenna’s house of cards begins to fall when Danielle and Travis show up in London, followed by Morgan, who survived the destruction of his ship and is now out for revenge against Glenna and Danielle.
Morgan assaults Glenna, kidnaps Danielle, and shoots Travis.
Travis is nursed back to health by Seward, who takes him to the Shaw estate. Seward confesses his part in Danielle’s earlier kidnapping, and Edwin and Travis cross swords on many subjects, among them: the fact that Travis is an American, and his wish to take Danielle back to America rather than live in England.
Travis is able to rescue Danielle from Morgan’s clutches, killing Morgan in the process. He also wins over Edwin–grudgingly–and Danielle and Travis have their Happily Ever After.
Danielle and Travis are strong characters and they are well-matched, both strong, passionate people who occasionally cut each other to ribbons verbally, but also eventually realize they love each other.
Like so many 1980s romance novels, Midnight Fires is based on the trope of assuming facts not in evidence. Characters ruminate incessantly over what they think the other person is thinking and feeling, as opposed to knowing. All of this could have been avoided had Danielle and Travis actually TALKED WITH EACH OTHER!
Of course, had that happened, this book and probably hundreds of other books in the romance genre would not exist.
There are far more love scenes in Midnight Fires than there are typically in Ms. Finch’s books.
However, one thing remains: enough purple prose to make Minnesota’s sports teams proud.
Assault, battery, stabbings, shootings, and killings appear in the book. None of the violence is graphic.
Bottom Line On Midnight Fires
Midnight Fires is a typical Carol Finch book. It’s very good but lacks the dynamic qualities to make it great.
Abducted from her beloved England, trapped aboard a pirate ship, and rescued by a handsome American captain, beautiful Danielle Shaw had had her fill of adventure! She should have been terrified when Captain Travis Radbourne informed her they were now in the midst of a war, but all she could think of was the way his tight black breeches clung to his muscled thighs and the way she would love to cling to his strong, broad chest…
When Travis saw the treasure he had pulled from the sea, he was stunned. From Dani’s wide emerald eyes to her smooth alabaster skin and silky golden tresses, she was alluring, enticing, and altogether irresistible. He longed to taste her full, red lips, caress her satiny curves, lose himself in her sweet, seductive embrace, and take her on a passionate journey to a summit ablaze with MIDNIGHT FIRES.Midnight Fires by Carol Finch