by Catherine Coulter

February 1989
ISBN: 0-380-75620-X
Reviewer Graphic Button Avon Books
Mass Market Paperback

Arielle Leslie was only fifteen years old when the Earl of Ravensworth, Burke Drummond, fell madly in love with her. Unfortunately, because of her young age and the fact that he was leaving for military duty, he did not make her his wife before he left for 3 long years. Burke’s love for Arielle was what kept him alive in battle and he vowed that when he returned, he wasn’t going to waste anymore time before making her his wife. Much to his surprise, Burke discovered that while he was gone Arielle’s step-brother had arranged for her to be wed at 16 years of age to a much older man, Paisley Cochrane, Viscount Rendel. Fortuitously, Arielle had recently been made a widow so Burke’s plan of action was to immediately make his intentions known to her.

Arielle considers the young girl Burke knew before he went away as hopelessly naive and is dead to her. The life she has lived since being wed to Paisley Cochrane is the stuff of nightmares and she has vowed to never let another man take control of her. Since all of her experiences with men since her father died and left her the ward of her step-brother, Evan, have been horrifying, to say the least, Arielle views marriage as the tool that allowed her to be abused and owned by a man to the point where she had no rights of her own. When Burke makes it apparent that he intends Arielle to be his wife, instead of being flattered, she is terrified to the point where she decides to sell everything she owns and leave the country.

Burke is flabbergasted when he learns of Arielle’s intentions, but instead of setting his sights on another bride, he is even more determined to make Arielle his own. He plans a mad scheme of kidnapping Arielle until she agrees to marry him, but he has no idea of the daunting task he has set out for himself. Burke despairs that Arielle will never trust him enough for them to have a true marriage since she flinches from the slightest touch. Although Burke has treated her with nothing but kindness, Arielle believes that it is only a matter of time before his true colors show and his abuse starts. The obstacles set before them seem overwhelming but Burke will not give up until Arielle is his in every way!

I found the plot in Night Fire very unusual from the customary romance and its originality kept me anxiously turning the pages. I didn’t always approve of Burke’s methods of trying to obtain Arielle’s trust, but of course, he did eventually bring her around. Besides the story line involving the frustrating task of gaining Arielle’s confidence, there was also a murder mystery to solve in Night Fire. And while I found the identity of the villain quite obvious, the mystery was still exciting until the puzzle was solved.

As characters go, I found Arielle to be a bit hard to relate to, as I’m sure most readers would, since she had an intense fear and hatred for men. While her transformation into a confident and courageous heroine was welcomed (can we all say “finally”?!), I thought it was a bit too sudden to be entirely believable. Burke was also an enigma in the way that he would want Arielle even after it was obvious that she would do anything to get away from him. I couldn’t understand his determination to marry her since they only had very brief encounters in the past, which did not even come close to constituting a love affair.

Despite those criticisms, there is a lot of good in Night Fire to speak of. The sex scenes were hot and steamy and as I mentioned, I enjoyed the change of pace in the plot from what we see so often in today’s romances. Night Fire is the first installment of the Night trilogy, along with Night Shadow and Night Storm, which I have not had the pleasure to read as of yet. I sure Catherine Coulter’s talents shine just as brightly in the other two.

Reviewed in July 2002 by Nicole.

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