by Brenda Joyce

September 1994
ISBN: 0-380-76535-7
Reviewer Graphic Button Avon Books
Mass Market Paperback

Lucy Bragg is a rich, spoiled debutante who has never met a man she couldn’t charm. Shozkay Savage a.k.a. Shoz Cooper is an escaped convict who has had enough dealings with “ladies” to last him a lifetime and Lucy represents everything he detests. What happens when Lucy’s new motorcar breaks down on a deserted stretch of road in the middle of Texas with no one nearby but Shoz? Fireworks!

After one night of passion, Lucy never expected, or wanted, to see Shoz ever again. Unfortunately, her wishes are not granted when Shoz’s shady business dealings are postponed and he must remain in Paradise, Texas where Lucy’s family is vacationing at her grandfather’s ranch. To provide an excuse for lingering in Paradise, Shoz gains employment at Lucy’s grandfather’s ranch, which throws them together more often than Lucy can bear. She is terrified that Shoz will not keep the secret of their night together, which would ruin her chances at having her wealthy beau propose. What she does not realize is that Shoz has secrets of his own – the foremost being that he is a wanted man.

When Lucy’s grandfather’s stallion is stolen and Lucy believes Shoz is guilty of the crime, things really get interesting. Shoz is arrested and then escapes with Lucy as his hostage and they begin a harrowing journey to Mexico. On the long flight to safety they can no longer deny the passion they feel for each other. However, neither trusts the other’s motives and with a family determined to keep the lovers apart, a jealous mistress and of course, Shoz’s criminal record, how will they ever overcome the obstacles set before them?

The Fires of Paradise is full of the stereotypes we see so often in historical romance novels. The good girl falling for the bad guy, the misunderstood half-breed and the rich, pampered young woman, the list goes on and on. However, one cannot help but be pulled into the drama as it unfolds and it makes you wonder if perhaps this is the novel all those other ones were based on.

Although I found it a bit hard to relate to Lucy in the beginning of the story, her good qualities eventually won me over. While she is spoiled and a bit naïve at times, the reader has the pleasure of seeing her grow and mature throughout the story. We see that even though she has never had to work a day in her life, she is not afraid to get her hands dirty and she doesn’t let others’ prejudices and discrimination influence her beliefs.

Shoz also has many facets to his character. He is obviously the tough, convicted criminal and his demeanor portrays that most often. But he also has a tender side, which we see in his dealings with his mistress’s son and, at times, with Lucy.

In all, I would highly recommend The Fires of Paradise to any Brenda Joyce fan. The sex scenes are hot, the romance is touching and the overall storyline is gripping. Definitely a keeper!

Reviewed in October 2002 by Nicole.

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