A Willful Woman…

Thoughts about books from a romance addict.

TBR Challenge: Playing With Fire by Victoria Thompson

on February 14, 2017

The theme: A NTM author.

Why this one: I’ve been reading a lot of European-set historicals and felt like some Americana.

This author is not only new to me, but I don’t think I’ve heard her mentioned before, so I expected this to be pretty forgettable. While not great, it was lively story that kept me interested until the last fourth. Since it’s almost 400 pages, that’s a reasonable amount of interest, though it really did drag at the end.

After the last of her family dies, twenty-nine year old Isabel Forester impulsively decides to take a teaching position out west. She doesn’t expect much more than a change of scene. But when she arrives in Bittercreek, Texas, she’s amazed to find that she’s no longer considered a plain, superfluous old maid but a desirable woman every bachelor in town wants. Unfortunately, the only one to catch her eye is Eben, a taciturn blacksmith who reportedly adored his late wife so much he’ll never marry again.

This is a fun plot reminiscent of several favorite old movies — “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers,” “The Harvey Girls”… and another I won’t mention, since it would be a spoiler. The setting is well realized, with a strong cast of supporting characters; I enjoyed the wooing hijinks, and the antics of Isabel’s students– likeable in the style of the Avonlea stories. Then the book went into romantic gear, with Eben trying to woo Isabel and doing everything wrong, romance-hero style. There’s some effective tension, and nice sensuality — Eben the blacksmith is quite good with his hands! But the push and pull between them went on way too long, and a whole bunch of extra plot at the end didn’t help my exhausted feeling.

Though I wish it had been shorter, it was a nicely immersive historical and felt like it offered more than just the romance.

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6 responses to “TBR Challenge: Playing With Fire by Victoria Thompson

  1. Valancy says:

    You had me at ‘Seven brides…’ I am totally putting it on my tbr – even with your caveats (*grabby hands*)
    🙂

  2. Dorine says:

    Yes, I’m the same way with the “Seven Brides”! Great review. 🙂

  3. Victoria Thompson wrote about 20 historicals from the mid 1980s up to the late 1990s, all set in Texas. In 1999 she switched gears and started writing a mystery series set in late 1890s NYC featuring a midwife and a policeman. I’m a big fan of the mystery series, which is still on-going.
    Oh, the ’80s! when page counts of 350-400 were not uncommon for historical romances. You will be happy to know that her mysteries are a lot shorter.
    I know I read a few of her older historicals back in the day, but I don’t think I read this one. Your review made it sound interesting–I’ll have to track it down.
    Another ‘Seven Brides’ fan here. Now I want to re-watch that!

  4. Seven brides for seven brothers…. More for my TBR!

  5. willaful says:

    You guys, did you know that Dallas Schulze wrote a 7B47B story?! https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/297491.Short_Straw_Bride

  6. SuperWendy says:

    Well I’ll be – I don’t think I knew she had a historical romance writing past. I’ve been meaning to read the Gaslight Mysteries (that Barb mentioned) forever and ever.

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