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dark fire

Category Romance Review: Dark Fire by Elizabeth Lowell

Dark Fire by Elizabeth Lowell pairs a virile, macho guide/bodyguard and a wealthy heiress traveling together through the jungles of Peru.

dark fire category romance
Dark Fire by Elizabeth Lowell
Rating: four-stars
Published: 1988
Illustrator: Unknown
Book Series: The McCalls #2
Published by: Silhouette
Genres: Category Romance, Contemporary Romance
Pages: 187
Format: eBook, Paperback, Hardcover
Buy on: AmazonAbeBooks
Reviewed by: Introvert Reader

Category Romance Review: Dark Fire by Elizabeth Lowell


The Book

Dark Fire by Elizabeth Lowell, a 1988 Silhouette Desire, takes us on a trek through the jungles of Peru. This is book #2 in her McCalls series.

Our hero is Trace Rawlings–the ‘stache. Elizabeth Lowell really loved men with flavor savers, didn’t she? I’m not judging; we all have our kinks. 😉

Trace is pictured on the cover as the apex of hirsute handsomeness: a full head of dark locks, a thick mustache, and a chest covered with more hair than a bar of soap at a YMCA.

Cynthia McCall, our heroine, is going by the name Cindy Ryan, and she needs Trace’s help.

dark fire silhouette desire

The Plot

Cindy’s father is Big Eddy McCall, a well-connected, super-powerful multi-millionaire (it’s the 1980s, and the rise of the billionaire era was a decade away). He controls politicians and businessmen but can’t control what he desires most. Big Eddy wants plenty of grandchildren to ensure his dynasty lives on.

His daughter has no interest in marriage. Cindy isn’t willing to settle down yet, focusing more on her business. That’s okay. Big Eddy’s a modern kind of patriarch, and he’ll take any biological grandchildren he can get–on whatever side of the blanket.

Cindy is a co-owner of a boutique clothing company that purchases textiles from a Peruvian connection in Quito. But their contact was associated with a shady emerald dealer and disappeared. Then Cindy’s business partner Susan went missing looking for said textile contact.

Word has it that a powerful cartel boss named Raul has Cindy’s friend in his clutches. Cin hires Trace Rawlings to help guide her on her trip through the jungles so she can search for her friend.

The only catch is that Big Eddy McCall has gotten to Trace first and is paying him a whopping ONE THOUSAND DOLLARS A DAY to keep an eye on Cin to ensure her safety.

Dr Evil GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

The Conflict

Trace views Cindy as pampered, spoiled “princess” and repeatedly calls her this throughout the book to mock her. He is a macho man and doesn’t cotton to dainty city gals gallivanting through dangerous territory for specious reasons. Especially a gal with a wealthy daddy paying him to babysit her.

There are many adventures along the way in Dark Fire that bring Cindy and Trace together–even if initially they get along like… well, like these critters:

Trace doesn’t help Cindy as she struggles through the environment because he’d perversely prefer to watch her struggle for his enjoyment.

But Trace isn’t an absolute caveman, and the two start to bond over their pasts. Although, he does have that virile body hair and facial hair, which has an allure of its own. I’ve only read a few Elizabeth Lowell romances, but she seems to have a type.

The two leads form a bond that turns from merely carnal into spiritual, and that’s when you believe that this isn’t just another love story but one that’s worth telling.

In the end, there are some twists revealed about her father, which aren’t so shocking, and don’t prevent our mains from getting together.

Dark fire by Elizabeth lowell

Final Analysis of Dark Fire

The lovemaking in Dark Fire was as deep purple as the song Smoke on the Water and reached fervent religious heights.

At first, that irritated me, as Silhouette Desires are supposed to be reliably steamy. Then I realized Elizabeth Lowell goes all out. If she is going to write a romance, it might as well be a romance that transcends mere humanity, not just a humdrum story of two strangers passing in the night.

Dark Fire was over-the-top in its overwroughtness. I liked it enough to rate it a 3 to 3.5-star read, but I had to give it 4 stars. For the ‘stache, natch.

Rating Report Card
Fun Factor
Overall: 3.8



Cynthia’s father had insisted she hire a survival specialist for her Ecuadorian trip, and she’d reluctantly complied, only to find Trace Rawlings was everything she disliked in a man: ruthless, domineering, egotistical. Yet traveling through the treacherous South American rain forest, she found he was all the man she needed ….

Trace was no tour guide, particularly not for some pampered rich kid. But he could name his price, and he rarely said no to an opportunity. When Cynthia Ryan appeared on his doorstep, he knew he’d made the right decision. She was the exception to all his rules–especially the one about never falling in love.

And Gold Was Ours duillo

Historical Romance Review: And Gold Was Ours by Rebecca Brandewyne


In faraway Spain Aurora’s fortune was foretold –the exile from the home of her aristocratic ancestors, the journey to the steaming jungles of Peru, and at last, the love of a fiery dark man.

Now on a plantation haunted by a tale of lost love and hidden gold, the raven-tressed beauty awaits the swordsman and warrior she has seen in her dreams. Will he come-and protect her from the enemies that seek to destroy her? Will he love her with the promised passion-wilder than the tropic storms and brighter than the most precious treasure?


Reviewed by: Introvert Reader


The Book and the Setup

And Gold Was Ours is a sequel to Rebecca Brandewyne‘s Love, Cherish Me. However, I’d consider this more of a companion piece. The hero, Esteban, is the cousin to Wolf (Lobo), the male protagonist from Love Cherish, Me. Wolf’s story takes place in Texas, USA. Esteban’s begins in Spain and ends in Peru. While both novels have Brandewyne’s hallmark baroque-gothic atmosphere, And Gold Was Ours is not as dark and emotional as its predecessor.

What this romance does have are swashbuckling intrigue and a unique setting. It also employs a supernatural element.

Our story begins in Spain, sometime in the mid-19th century, under the reign of Isabel II. The book opens with a swordfight between Esteban and his evil stepfather. Although Esteban has right on his side, after he kills his stepfather, his wicked stepbrother vows revenge. So Esteban is forced to leave everything behind and flee to the New World.

Aurora Leila, also in Spain, has a fortune teller foresee her future. She is told that she’ll have to leave her home for faraway lands. There, she will find a love that has awaited her for eternity. While Aurora scoffs at the seer, the woman is correct. Some misadventures with a lusty nun occur while Aurora is in a convent. Like Esteban, Aurora must leave her birthplace behind. She travels thousands of miles away to Peru.

The Plot

It takes some time for the love story to begin, as Brandewyne puts the players into their starting places.

When Esteban and Aurora meet in South America, it’s as if they’ve known each other for all time. A bond exists between them, which seems to have existed since time primordial. Theirs is a fated love, one passionate and thrilling.

There are villains aplenty and crazy adventures along the way as they fall in love in the jungles of Peru. Danger lurks as enemies compete for land. A search for legendary ancient treasure leads to mortal peril.

Midway through the book, Esteban and Aurora take a side trip to Texas. They share happy moments with Storm, Lobo, and their son, Chance. If you’ve read Love Cherish Me, this part hits hard in the feels. This was a brief halcyon period for Storm and Lobo before tragedy struck.

Then it’s back to Peru for Esteban and Aurora, who must overcome scheming antagonists.

And unfortunately, we encounter Esteban’s 180-degree heel-turn. He starts out as a dashing, romantic character and then, out of nowhere, turns into a jealous stalker. It was out of place and made Esteban less likable.

Meanwhile, Aurora has visions of the two of them in times past. She sees images from ancient Egypt to Viking lands and other eras long ago when she and Esteban had loved each other. Through forces of fate, they were forever being separated.

Is their love doomed to fail in this time and place as well?

and gold was ours
And Gold Was Ours, Leisure/ Dorchester reissue, 1999, Lina Levy cover art

Final Analysis of And Gold Was Ours

I didn’t particularly appreciate Esteban’s personality transplant, how became an insecure stalker mid-way through. There was no reason for him to mistrust Aurora, who was totally devoted to him.

While I enjoyed And Gold Was Ours as it had its adventurous moments, it pales compared to Love Cherish, Me. That book was far grander in scope and emotional depth.

I didn’t expect the paranormal elements, although they added a unique twist to the plot. The prose is at times overwrought and very florid, typical of Brandewyne’s style. The love scenes are euphemistically erotic.

And Gold Was Ours started a little slow-paced and gets too wordy in certain sections. It was not one of my favorites by Rebecca Brandewyne, but it’s not the worst book by any means.

File this under the “I enjoyed it very much but didn’t love it” category. Esteban’s misplaced jealousy aside, for the most part, it was a compelling read.

3.63 stars